A pair of Eastern Conference foes looking to get the second half of the season off on the right foot take the floor in the Motor City. The Boston Celtics are on the road to face the Detroit Pistons Friday night. Boston stumbled into the break with three straight losses after losing 129-119 at home to the Clippers last Wednesday. Detroit snapped a three-game slide as they beat Atlanta 104-98 at home in their final contest before the break last Wednesday. The Celtics have a 237-135 edge in the all-time regular-season series: the teams split two meetings this season, each winning on the road. In the last meeting, it was Boston taking a 91-81 win here on December 10, 2017.
Boston Celtics Look to Put Struggles Behind Them
Boston sputtered heading into the break, going 5-5 in their last 10 but losing three straight at home to Indiana, Cleveland and the Clippers. The Celtics enter the second half of the season second in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Toronto for the top spot in both the conference and the Atlantic Division. Boston trailed by nine after the opening quarter and cut the deficit to two after three: they couldn’t slow the Clippers in the fourth and ended up with the loss. The Celtics shot 43.3 percent from the field, including 15 of 31 from beyond the arc in the contest. Boston’s defense was leaky as they allowed LA to shoot 50 percent from the floor and 11 of 29 from beyond the arc. Kyrie Irving had 33 points and eight assists to lead the Celtics in the loss.
The Celtics are 25th in the league in scoring offense with 103.1 points per game. Boston is 11th in the league in rebounding with 44.3 boards per game and stand 21st with 22 assists per contest. Boston is above average on the defensive end: they are 2nd in scoring defense, allowing 99.6 points per game. Kyrie Irving leads the team with 24.7 points and five assists per game in his first year with the team. Al Horford averages 13.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. Marcus Smart chips in 10.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists per contest. Jaylen Brown (14 points, 5.4 boards), rookie Jayson Tatum (13.5 points, 5.1 rebounds), the recently signed Greg Monroe, Terry Rozier (10.1 points), Marcus Morris (12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Aron Baynes are key pieces in the rotation. Gordon Hayward, who is likely done for the year after suffering a fracture dislocation of his ankle in the opener, is progressing: he is no longer wearing a brace to stabilize his ankle. There is the potential chance that he could return for the postseason though it remains cloudy at this point. The Celtics are 25th in field goal percentage as they shoot 44.6 percent from the floor as a team. Boston is tied for 6th in three pointers per game with 11.6 per night while the team is tied for 7th in three point percentage as they hit 37 percent from beyond the arc.
Detroit Pistons Shoot to Return to .500 Mark
Detroit snapped a three game slide by beating the Hawks at home. The Pistons have some work to do in order to get back in the playoff picture: they enter this one 1.5 games behind the Heat for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Detroit led by eight after the first quarter, by 12 at the half and by 21 after three quarters before having to hold off a fourth quarter charge by the Hawks. The Pistons shot 42.2 percent from the field and went 13 of 33 from long range in the contest. Ish Smith led Detroit with 22 points and nine assists in the win.
The Pistons have been up and down offensively, ranking 23rd in scoring offense with 103.4 points per game. Detroit is tied for 18th in rebounding with 42.9 boards per game and are average sharing the ball, ranking 13th in assists with 22.8 per night. The team is 8th in scoring defense as they allow 103.5 points a game. Blake Griffin, who was the centerpiece of a deal consummated with the Clippers on January 29, puts up 22.2 points, eight rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. Reggie Jackson adds 14.6 points plus 5.5 assists per contest while Andre Drummond contributes 15.1 points, 15.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per night. Ish Smith chips in 10.7 points and 4.5 assists per game. Reggie Bullock, Anthony Tolliver, Langston Galloway, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Jameer Nelson and Jon Leuer all are key pieces for the Pistons rotation. Jackson injured his ankle against Indiana December 26 and was just cleared to do some light running: he is recovering from a Grade 3 sprain. Leuer has been out since October 31 with a sprained ankle: he could be done for the year after surgery. Detroit is tied for 22nd in the league by shooting 45 percent from the floor. The Pistons are currently tied for 13th in the league in three point field goals with 10.7 per game while ranking 5th by sinking 37.5 percent from downtown.
- Celtics are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
- Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games
- Pistons are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss
- Pistons are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games
- Pistons are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game
Boston struggled down the stretch heading into the All Star break but perhaps the break will help them get back on track. The good thing for the Celtics is that they’re well rested and they’re getting healthier at this point, plus they are solidly in the playoff picture. Detroit has some work ahead and a nasty schedule to deal with if they hope to make the postseason. The Pistons are at home here but both games in the season series have gone to the visiting team this year. Look for Boston to come up with a win here to get back on track.
Pick: Boston Celtics -1
Boston hopes to get back on track in the second half of the season and it starts here. The Celtics are expected to get Smart back after he missed the last couple weeks after slicing his hand open punching a picture frame in Los Angeles. He suffered a quad contusion and didn’t practice Thursday but still is expected to be back in action for this contest. Detroit is still trying to stay in the playoff picture but they’re going to have their work cut out for them down the stretch with an absolute brutal schedule over the next few weeks. The Pistons have been up and down all season: can they harness a hot streak when they need it most?
The under is 14-6 in the Celtics’ last 20 Friday games and 9-4 in their last 13 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game. Detroit has seen the under go 7-0 in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600, 13-3 in their last 16 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600 and 4-1 in their last 5 home games. The teams have stayed under the total in each of their last four meetings in Detroit. Given the way that things have been between the teams, look for this to be a defensive struggle that stays under the total.