Round 1: Boston Celtics (5-1) at Detroit Pistons (4-1)
It's time for the first battle of the year between these two teams. Last year's Eastern Conference Finals teams and still the best two teams in the East. Anyone that watched these games last year knows how exciting and heated they were. Richard Hamilton and Ray Allen were always at each other’s throats, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett battling in the post, Paul Pierce and Tayshaun Prince playing out on the perimeter, and Chauncey Billups and Rajon Rondo battling at the point. Not to mention watching bench players like Jason Maxiell and Glen "Big Baby" Davis coming in and making an impact. All the games were decided in the final minutes, and stay intense all throughout the entire game. These were some of best games out of all the games in the last NBA season. The rivalry from the 80s between Bird with the Celtics and Isaiah and the Bad Boys with the Pistons seems to be back in full force now.
This game has added a new and interesting element now. Newly acquired Allen Iverson (traded from Denver Nuggets for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samb) will be playing his second game for the Pistons. He looks to be the guy who can get the Pistons back to the Finals, and the Celtics will be the team standing in their way. AI played very well in his first game. He scored 24 points on 50% field goal shooting and 11 for 13 at the free throw line. He also added in 6 assists and 1 steal to complete is first game in Detroit. Despite his play, the Pistons weren't able to defeat the Nets and suffered their first loss of the season. He has shown that he is willing to adapt to the Pistons style. He only shot the ball 12 times, and was passing the ball a lot in trying to be more of a distributor. He also was playing defense. Now, Devin Harris did go score a lot, but he was scoring on everyone, not just AI.
The Pistons are 4-1 at the top of the Central Division so far. Their only loss came to the Nets where Devin Harris exploded for 38 points. They have got off to a good start this year. All their players are continuing to play very good, but a few players have stepped so far this year. Tayshaun Prince has been the best player for the Pistons so far. He has 16.4 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, 1.2 blocks per game, 46.6% field goal percentage, and 58.3% 3-point percentage. He has continued to play very well on the defensive end, and is rebounding very well so far. He also is looking more consistent on the offensive end, being able to get to basket or hit the outside shot. Amir Johnson is the Pistons' starting center this year, and he has played very well so far. He has been contributing some on offense, but has mainly been a factor on defense. He has been able to use his athleticism to get rebounds and forcing turnovers. He won't be lighting up the stat sheet, but he will contribute a lot to this team.
The Celtics are leading the Atlantic Division at 5-1.Their only loss has come to the Pacers where they just seemed to an off game. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett continue to lead Boston with their great play. Pierce has 17.8 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, 1.3 steals per game, and 4.3 assists per game. KG has 15.7 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, and 1.3 steals per game. Ray Allen has also chipped in 14.7 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game. Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, and Kendrick Perkins have all been contributed very well to Boston as well.
Key Matchups of the game:
Leon Powe vs. Jason Maxiell
These two guys might not play head to head very much, but it will important to see which guy will come off the bench and contribute most to their team. Maxiell will be needed to provide tons of energy, rebounding, and defense. He needs to get a few highlight blocks and dunks to get his team pumped up. Powe will need to rebound and provide low post scoring. These will be the two key players coming off the bench for this game.
Allen Iverson vs. Rajon Rondo
Both have lots of speed and athleticism, and both will be at the point for their teams. It will be interesting to see if Rondo can keep AI from having a great game today. Even more interesting will be if AI can keep Rondo from scoring a lot as well.
Paul Pierce vs. Tayhaun Prince
The two wingmen will be battling all night long. Both will be their team's best perimeter defender, and it will be important to see who can slow down the other more. It will be fun to watch these guys battle outside and battle for rebounds. Very key matchup here.
Ray Allen vs. Richard Hamilton
This is probably the most fun matchup to watch. Former UConn guards will be in a tough battle with each all night. Every time these two play, they’re in each other's faces and fighting for position all throughout the game. There will be fouls called, and there will be 3-point shots made. It will be important to see which guy can impact their team the most.
Kevin Garnett vs. Rasheed Wallace
Battle of the big men. Sheed vs. KG is the most important matchup of the game. These two big men anchor their team in the post on offense and defense. They will fight for boards, they will battle for points, and they will see who can score the most points outside the paint.
It's going to be a great game to watch, so I suggest you drop change any plans you already have so you can watch this game. It's on at 6:00 pm ET Sunday, November 9th. Get ready for an Eastern Conference showdown at the Palace tomorrow night. And if everything goes right, my Pistons will win!