With 8 games remaining in the regular season for Boston every game from here on counts. Tonight the Celtics will look to win their first game against Detroit. Detroit which has been a surprisingly tough match up for Boston, has won the last two meetings by 15 and 20 points. Detroit has actually been their toughest opponent all season as Boston has their worst Net rating(Offensive Rating minus Defensive Rating) 16.1 against the Pistons.
Paul Pierce missed Boston’s last game against the Timberwolves due to what was reported as “Personal Reasons” but Doc has assured that Paul will be back in the lineup tonight. It still hasn’t been reported when exactly KG is due back but I don’t think Doc is in much of a hurry to get him back. Doc has always preferred rest and health over playoff seeding. Especially since all Boston needs is one win and a Philadelphia loss(or two Philly losses) to clinch a playoff berth.
Player to Watch: Andre Drummond
Coming into the Draft, Dummond was maligned for his perceived lack of effort or motor but he’s certainly been a pleasure to watch and has made Detroit a better team. According to NBA.com/stats Drummond has the highest +/- of any player with at least 700 minutes logged on the court for Detroit(0.7). A strong rebounder and shot blocker combines his excellent athleticism with great strength. The Celtics biggest problem tonight might be defending Drummond on the pick and roll. According to synergy sports Dummond scores 1.14 points per possession on the pick & roll as the roll man. He has the strength and athleticism necessary to finish tough layups/dunks around the rim. It really makes you wonder why it took so long for Lawerence Frank to insert him in the starting lineup. His per 36 numbers certainly warranted a starting nod. Boston really has to look out for this big man tonight.
Keys to the Game:
1. Stop the Pick & Roll: Detroit doesn’t do many things well but one of the few things they do well is finish on the pick and roll. They employ many bigs who are very proficient as the roll man. They rank 10th in the league on possession where the roll man finishes the play scoring 1.03 points per play.
2. Get Jeff going early: Jeff as of late has really come one strong for the Celtics. In his last 10 games Jeff has really stepped up his game averaging 19.2 pts with a 103 offensive rating. I’ve already detailed his clutch outings last week. The point is Jeff has stepped up and it’s been a pleasure to watch.
3. Get contributions from the “Other Guys”: By “other guys” I mean guys like Terry,Crawford, Williams and Randolph. Doc, out of necessity has been tinkering with the lineups giving guys like Randolph more playing time. Now with more playing time means more expected production.
I wouldn’t really expect scintillating basketball but still this game is very important as Milwaukee is closing in on Boston’s 7th spot. Although it has yet to be seen whether Doc really cares where the Celtics are in the standings as long as their in the playoffs. Lets just hope the Celtics show up and not the Welptics(a nickname coined by @JoshZavadil).