Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Girls talk sports: looking ahead to Celtics-Pistons

The Pistons are right smack in the middle of the Melo-drama. Rip Hamilton has been benched for the past 3 games, which, in my opinion is completely disrespectful and unnecesary. He's been with the Pistons for the past 8 years and has been a staple of the franchise for every one of those 8 seasons. For people my age, I think Richard Hamilton is synonymous with the Pistons, especially now that most of the other noteable members of the championship teams (Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace) have gone on their own ways. Rip is just an all around tough, solid player. For his career, he's averaged 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. There's no way that benching him isn't causing tension on a team that's already not flowing chemistry wise. I'm sure that Tyshaun Prince and Ben Wallace don't look kindly on it. To bench him for a trade that's not even iminent is just rude... And that will be the end of my tirade defending Richard Hamilton. 

Despite all of this drama, the Pistons come in to the Garden the winners of their last three games, blowing Dallas out 103-89 in their last outing. Who's been playing well for Detroit? A couple of people. Tyshaun Prince has scored more than 20 points in 2 of the 3 games. Rodney Stuckey and Tracy McGrady have also had solid games (McGrady dropped 22 against Toronto, the first of the 3 game win streak. Maybe he was trying to show his former team that he's still got it...). The Pistons also have three guys in Charlie Villanueva (booooo), Will Bynum and Ben Gordon who can come off the bench and  score in the double digits. 

How can the Celtics beat the Pistons? 

The last time the Celtics and Pistons played, on December 29, Rondo wasn't playing and KG injured his calf. They will both be on the floor tonight, which gives Boston an advantage because we've just been reminded of how well they can perform with their core healthy and active. Look for KG to be even more hyped than usual (if that's possible), because of his ongoing drama-rama beef with Charlie Villanueva. Since he hurt himself last time against the Pistons and couldn't play, tonight will be his chance to take it on to the court and show people who's boss. 

This a game where the Celtics can win the battle of the boards. The Pistons don't rebound particularly well. They pull down an average of 38 boards a game, good for 29th in the league. Ben Wallace is the teams leading rebounder (6 RPG), but he's sidelined with an ankle injury. If the Celtics are active, there's no reason why they can't dominate in the paint, score easy baskets, and cash in on second chance points. 

Defensively, without the veteran presence of Richard Hamilton, Detroit won't be too interested in playing home. Rip is the reason why Ray Allen started wearing an arm band. He let his nails grow out, and after the Celtics played the Pistons, Ray's arms would be all scratched up. And no, I'm not going to launch in to another thing about Rip. Just an anecdote this time. 

A quick preview of potential match ups:

Rodney Stuckey and Rajon Rondo. It's a tough match up for Rondo because Stuckey is bigger and stronger, but Rondo is quicker and more disciplined than him. Stuckey's mindset is score first, pass second, so as long as Rondo can keep him out of the paint, he should have the advantage in the match up. 

Since the Pistons have been sitting Richard Hamilton, Tracy McGrady will more than likely be matching up with Ray Allen. There is no way that McGrady can stay with Ray. He will have no interest in battling through picks and chasing after Ray. It just won't happen. The problem could be on the other end of the floor, because McGrady has a good 3 or 4 inches on Ray. 

Tayshaun Prince and Paul Pierce. I like this matchup. These two have played against each other for years and it's always a good battle. Prince is long and quick, so Paul will need to take him in to the paint and out muscle him. Defensively, Prince can get it going from the perimeter, so Paul will have to stay home on him. 

Greg Monroe and Shaq. To be completely honest, I don't know too much about Chris Wilcox. He's in his first year out of Georgetown, and he's been thrust in to the starting line up as a result of an injury to Ben Wallace. He's coming off a 16 point, 9 rebound and 4 steal performance against the Mavericks. He's 6'11 and 250. The Celtics should go to Shaq early and often. No, he's not as fast as he once was, but he's strong and experienced, and there's a good chance he can take the young Wilcox to school. 

Chris Wilcox and KG. Wilcox has been plagued by a steady stream of injuries- he injured his back last season, his hamstring in the preseason, and his groin at the beginning of the regular season. He is momentarily healthy, and made his first start of the season against the Raptors on January 14. This is another case where the experienced player (KG) should have the upper hand. I'd bet that the Pistons are going to go to their bench to look for help against KG... That would come in the form of Villanueva. It might could get chippy out there.  

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