Celtics look to continue winning ways against weak Pistons

Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson, right, has stepped up big this season on both ends of the floor.

The Celtics had arguably their biggest victory of the 2011-12 season against the Bulls on Sunday at TD Garden.

Sure, Chicago was without MVP Derrick Rose, but a win is a win against the Eastern Conference’s top team. Boston faces Chicago again on Thursday, this time on the road, but it is crucial that the Celtics start taking care of business against weaker opponents like the Pistons beginning tonight.

Three things to look for:

KG, Pietrus doubtful
Kevin Garnett (hip flexor) and Mickael Pietrus (knee) both missed Tuesday’s practice and are listed as doubtful for tonight’s game against the Pistons (7:30, CSNNE).

On one hand, Detroit is one of the worst teams in the NBA, and if the C’s are to be short some key players, this is a good game for it to happen. On the other, every game is important at this point, and we’ve seen the Celtics stink up the joint against terrible teams in the past (namely last Friday against Toronto). Brandon Bass (knee) will also be out until the All-Star Break, as reported last week.

Who will step in?
With KG, Pietrus, and Bass all most likely out tonight, it’s on the Celtics bench (what’s left of it anyways) to step up in their absence. Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson has looked decent as of late, and is coming off a career-high 33 minutes against the Bulls. He could be in line for his first career start if Garnett doesn’t go. If not Johnson, Chris Wilcox will get the nod.

Either way, both players will get a lot of burn, and Wilcox has proven over the last few games to be a dependable bench option. As for the guards, Keyon Dooling and Avery Bradley should see increased minutes.

Jermaine O’Neal is also likely to be back in action and may even start at center.

Watch out for Monroe
When it comes to the Pistons, there really isn’t a lot to be scared of. But one player on the team, second-year center Greg Monroe, is a guy that can and most likely will hurt the C’s tonight. He went for 22 and eight the first time around against Boston, and with no Garnett and a banged up O’Neal, look for Monroe to have his way around the paint. He’s averaging a shade under 17 points and 10 rebounds this year and he’ll like exceed both of those tonight.



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