Big Game at the Garden Tonight

1190922388How long has it been since we could say those words? Really say those words? Pistons and Celtics. At the Garden. Somebody exhume Johnny Most and fire up the oxygen tank. Make sure Pistons trainer Mike Abendour has a good view so he can yell at the refs.

It’s like the 80’s all over again, except in reverse. This time it’s the Celtics trying to take the crown from Detroit, and like those old Celtic champs, Detroit hasn’t taken too kindly to Boston’s bravado. Remember the last time these two played? Big Baby shed his training wheels and the Pistons were none too happy with the Celtics post-game joyousness.

Said Chauncey Billups:

“They’re a little more happy than we were when we won our game at their place. It was just a regular game for us with two good teams playing. They were kind of playing like it was the Super Bowl. It’s just a regular game, man, with two good teams playing. This probably means a little more to them and their psyche than it was for us. But they won, man, they won.”

Yes, tonight will be good.

All of the huff-and-puff stuff is window dressing, though. What makes this so good are the matchups. With Sam Cassell waiting in the wings will Rajon Rondo continue his ascent, or will he continue to have trouble with Billups? Can Ray Allen keep up with Rip Hamilton? Will Tayshaun Prince frustrate Paul Pierce? And on and on.

Both teams are playing well. After a blip in January, the Pistons ripped off 10 straight wins and have won 15 of 18. The Celtics, meanwhile, have regained their mojo after dropping three straight to open their West Coast swing and are riding a five-game winning streak. Three games (four in the loss column) are all that separates the two in the race for the top spot in the East.

Pierce is on record as saying homecourt is a big deal for the Celtics, while as Doc Rivers pointed out, the Pistons really don’t care. They do care about winning this game, though.

“Oh man, it was so much fun, man, so much fun, man. I loved it,” Billups said. “With the East being where it is right now, those games are kind of fun in between. You get real good basketball, teams that are elite status that go at it, and it could go either way. I love it. I love it. You always get excited.”

We are too, Chauncey. We are too.