The Celtics just won the biggest game of the season so far when they beat the Pistons. This win clinched a playoff berth, won the season series from the Pistons and gave them the tie breaker in case they finish with identical records. It would be easy for the Celtics to feel that they have arrived and let up a little. But, given the schedule to end the season, they can't afford to rest on their laurels. The Pistons are going to be right on their tails the rest of the way.
The Pistons' schedule is slightly more favorable than the Celtics'. The Celtics have 10 home games and 13 road games left. The Pistons have 13 home games and 8 road games. The Celtics have a tough 5 game road trip through Milwaukee, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and New Orleans that will take a lot of focus to come out of it with more wins than losses. The Pistons don't have any extended road trips left.
Since the Celtics are the front runners and have beaten many of the teams that they will face already, every game is a challenge. Every team will be up for the Celtics and play their best game against them. With the Pistons running behind the Celtics, they aren't as much of a target. Maybe there is something to the articles in the Detroit papers that say that the Pistons are happy to be playing in the shadow of the Celtics.
The Celtics seem to be peaking at the right time. KG is back from the injury and playing great. Ray Allen has been playing his best basketball of the season recently. Perk has been a beast lately and Rondo has gained poise and confidence. Sam Cassell and PJ Brown will be integrated into the team and ready for the playoffs. Even with a tougher schedule, the Celtics are a scary team. But, they have to continue to bring it every night to build momentum going into the playoffs.
Next up is the Bulls in the Garden. The Bulls are an interesting team. They have been playing very well since the trade that shipped Ben Wallace out of town. Noah is doing a good job at center. He is a good passer and last night had 20 rebounds in the Bull's win over the Cavs. The Celtics had a let down after they beat the Pistons the last time and they can't afford to do that now as they are heading down the stretch. Hopefully we will see them come out with the same intensity against the Bulls as they had against the Pistons. Because, after all, the Bulls may end up being a playoff foe as well.