The Celtics will be facing their toughest test yet when they play Detroit at home on Wednesday. The Pistons are 17-7 on the year and 8-2 in their last 10 games. They are 8-5 on the road. A win on Wednesday will move the Celtics in to the history books with the best star in franchise history. It would also move them to 14-0 at home. But the biggest thing it would do is to quiet the naysayers who question their record because of not having faced the top teams.
The Pistons have the second best record in the Eastern conference and are third overall behind the Celtics and the Spurs. The Pistons are a proven team having won championships with the same group. this same unit for the Pistons have been together many years. They also pride themselves in playing tough defense. The Celtics are tops in points allowed with 86.5 and the Pistons are second with 91.2.
If the Celtics have been playing down to some of their competition lately, they should definitely play up to the Pistons. This will be a statement game for both teams. The Pistons want to prove that they are still the class of the East and are the team to beat. The Celtics want to prove that they are for real and that their record isn't a fluke because of weak competition. This should be a defensive battle from start to finish and a win by the Celtics will put to rest all those questions about their ability to beat the better teams. A loss will just raise more questions.
Following the Pistons game, the Celtics face the Bulls at home on Friday night. The Bulls haven't exactly been tearing up the league but they are still a dangerous team and in spite of a slow start are expected to challenge in the East. They are 8-13 but are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Bulls are 3-8 on the road. Hopefully they won't be the let down game for the Celtics after playing the Pistons 2 days before.
After the Bulls, the Celtics have a rematch with the Magic, this time at home. The Magic are 17-8 and 5-5 in their last 10. They are 12-3 on the road and one of the best road teams in the league this season. They are dangerous with Dwight Howard inside and Jameer Nelson to slash to the hoop and Hedo Turkoglu to shoot from outside. The Magic are another of the top teams that the Celtics need to beat to remove the asterisk from their record. This is a game to avenge the earlier loss.
After the 3 game home stand, the Celtics head out West for their first extended road trip of the season. They will face Sacramento (9-14), Seattle (7-18), Utah (14-12) and the Lakers (14-9). There are several interesting sub-plots in these games that will make each one a little tougher.
In Sacramento, they face Ron Artest and the Kings who they embarrassed earlier in Boston. The Kings will be looking for revenge and Ron Artest, who wasn't much of a factor in the first game will be playing for pride. In Seattle, we will face Delonte and Wally for the first time since the trade. They would love nothing better than to beat their former team. Utah is a strong team that has been slumping but are dangerous. And, the Lakers also were embarrassed on the parquet and will be looking for payback. They are 7-3 in their last 10 and any team with Kobe on it is dangerous.
The road ahead won't be easy, but a good showing in the next 7 games will go a long way toward quieting the doubters. The first and biggest step will be to beat Detroit on Wednesday and cement their place in Celtics lore. Ray will be back and well rested and hopefully his jumper will be back with him. Tony has gained some valuable experience starting and playing big minutes in Ray's absence. There won't be any lack of motivation in this one. But, the Pistons aren't likely to be intimidated by the Celtics defense and will play some very tough defense of their own. There is a lot to be worried about in this matchup but hopefully the Celtics will come out and take care of business and remove the asterisks from their record.