The Celtics got off to a sleepy start in Indianapolis, riding a deficit all the way into the fourth quarter, where a 29-point effort paved the way for a 95-83 victory. A slow start against the Pistons might not condemn the Celtics, but it’s a nasty habit to get into, especially considering the challenging schedule that lies ahead in the New Year.
It won’t be easy to spark a quick start on the tail end of back-to-back road games, but it will serve Boston well to get on the Pistons early, creating a comfortable cushion from the get-go. Not only will it help get the Big Three’s juices flowing, but it will also give the reserves a little breathing room.
It was the backup squad that lifted the C’s out of their funk on Tuesday night, as Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels boosted a 14-5 run to end the third quarter, leading to their offensive burst in the fourth.
It will also be important for the Celtics big men to keep their fouls (and tempers) in check. The old Detroit-Boston rivalry tends to flare up whenever these two teams meet, and it was no different during their last matchup on Nov. 2. Wednesday’s game marks the first meeting between Kevin Garnett and Charlie Villanueva since the infamous “cancer patient” remarks, and Detroit will be looking to get into KG’s head.
The Celtics have been fairly tame when it comes to fouls lately, though Shaquille O’Neal ranks 10th in the league in personal fouls per game (3.5) and fouled out against the Pacers in 16 minutes played. To take some pressure off Jermaine O’Neal (whose still rusty after sitting out six weeks) and Big Baby (whose been taking on much of the center responsibilities lately), it will help if Shaq keeps his foul count under control.
Boston was fortunate to hop back on the winning track after a tough loss on Christmas Day — especially after the slow start against the Pacers — and they’ll need to maintain that mindset heading into Detroit. The Pistons are not a dominant opponent, but they’re not one the Celtics should take lightly either.
Detroit should be fully rested and charged for their rematch with the Celtics, but if the C’s get a jump early, they should have no problem putting the Pistons away for the second time this season. But if they let past controversies and foul trouble creep into their heads, however, it could spell trouble.