Game Preview: Pistons Host Celtics in First Game After the All-Star Break
At ninth in the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Pistons (28-29) are right in the thick of the playoff race. They start the push for the postseason tonight at home against the Boston Celtics (40-19). Boston lost their last three games heading into the break, including a blowout on their home court to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons, in case you forgot over the break, won their last game over the Atlanta Hawks 104-98. However, that came on the heels of a three-game losing streak.
Since acquiring Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers the Pistons have looked substantially more athletic and rejuvenated. The offense, however, has gone through its ups and downs. Head coach Stan van Gundy will have to figure that out moving forward if they are to get into the playoffs. While Griffin has a cavalcade of offensive moves, Detroit still has not quite been able to replace the consistent scoring Tobias Harris provided. Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock have been able to provide sporadic bursts of offense, but Detroit will need more consistency.
Trying to get offenses going against the Celtics has not been the easiest thing to do, up until a few games ago. They boast one of the top defensive units in the league, but gave up over 121 points to the Cavaliers and 129 to the Clippers in their last two games. That bodes well for the Pistons as they look to get the offense going, but Boston should still be a feared unit. The Celtics will also get back Marcus Smart, one of the team’s best defenders. He has missed the last 11 games with right hand lacerations after punching a glass case. His presence should help bet Boston’s defensive unit back on track.
Detroit is hoping to get one of their injured guards back soon too. Reggie Jackson was cleared for light basketball activities, but still does not have any official timetable for his return to the court. Coach van Gundy described Jackson as the third “big-three” piece along with Griffin and center Andre Drummond. Getting him back would help the Pistons get into the playoffs, but the road will not be easy. Detroit will play 15 of their remaining 25 games on the road, including a long six-game road trip in the middle of March.
After relinquishing the top spot in the Eastern Conference, Boston is really looking to get back on track. Getting Smart back will help on and off the court and should be a nice boost. The Celtics are reeling though, and Detroit is in a nice position to make a strong impression after the All-Star break. Regardless, it is nice to have a full slate of NBA games back.