Pistons to affect Celtics’ playoff hopes?

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (25-50) at Boston Celtics (38-36)
  • Date: April 3, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Boston Celtics should be getting ready for the playoffs. Emphasis on the word should.

But with Kevin Garnett nursing an ankle injury and Paul Pierce missing Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, one is left wondering whether they have a plan in place as it pertains to the postseason.

At present time, Boston has not yet clinched a playoff spot. Thus, winning is still a requirement for this team if they plan on partaking in the tournament.

Granted, because they are an older team, Doc Rivers might be using unconventional wisdom.

The Celtics’ faithful are hoping the team grabs the seventh seed in the east, which would have them avoid the defending champions in the first round.

Mind you the Celtics might not be good enough for a battle with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. The lack of youth and numerous injuries that go hand-in-hand with that make it as such that LeBron and company could potentially easily dispatch them in such a setting.

But in the first round of the playoffs, that might be the healthiest the Cs will be at any point during the second season. Combine that with the fact that Boston always plays Miami tough, and it’s not inconceivable that Rivers would tank for an opportunity to face them in the opening round of the playoffs.

Hence, losing just a few games here and there might not necessarily be the worst idea for the franchise if they truly feel as though they can out the Heat.

Let’s face it: the Celtics aren’t winning any first round matchup without the services of Kevin Garnett.

Per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool, when the Big Ticket is on the floor, the Celtics have the second best defense in the league statistically, right behind the Indiana Pacers. Remove Garnett from the equation though and we’re looking at a bottom 10 ranking.

More importantly, Miami’s league-leading offense drops to roughly ninth overall when they play Boston with KG on the hardwood.

Garnett’s ability to disrupt the pick-and-roll with his quickness and hands are a huge plus against the Heat. He can help and recover quite quickly, which grants him an opportunity to patrol the paint and bump off cutters.

The Celtics have faced a few injuries here and there as of late and that’s a big part of the reason why they have only won three of their last 10 games.

So what to make of all of this entering tonight’s contest with the Detroit Pistons?

Well, Boston’s final eight games will feature five opponents with records under .500. Rivers may very well decide to give his regulars their normal amount of time or simply reduce their load and give every one some playing time much like he did Monday night against Minnesota.

Giving seldom used players minutes will keep guys in the normal rotation fresh and also give the bench players much needed confidence should they be needed in the postseason.

In other words, the Pistons starters might be getting a fairly substantial amount of playing time against second unit players tonight.

If this is Rivers’ plan, he will be labeled as one of two things: genius or buffoon.

Taking out the Heat in the first round would give them a great opportunity at reaching the Finals no matter how improbable it may seem.

There’s no way to know with certainty if this is the Celtics’ plan, but if it is, I must say I’m in favor.

However, what it also means is this: Rivers might be counting on the Pistons to help him out tonight.

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Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Tags: Boston Celtics THN-BOS