Pistons-Celtics Preview

It was a rough week for the Boston Celtics. A visit from the

lowly Detroit Pistons to open a brief home stretch could help them

get back on track.

Coming off another disappointing loss to the top team in the

Eastern Conference, the Celtics look to bounce against the

struggling Pistons on Monday night.

Boston (41-24) shot 40.0 percent and allowed LeBron James to

score 24 of his 30 points in the second half of a 104-93 loss at

Cleveland on Sunday. It was the Celtics’ second consecutive

decisive loss to the East leaders, and it concluded a six-day

stretch where the Atlantic Division leaders went 1-3 after winning

four in a row.

Though the aging Celtics have a comfortable division lead, they

are fourth in the East, 10 games behind the Cavaliers and looking

like a team that’s playing tired, rather than inspired.

“Looking at the defense from the (2008) championship year, when

we won it, it doesn’t look the same,” said former Celtic and

current Cavalier Leon Powe. “It looks like the rotation is slower

and they ain’t getting to the shooters and closing out like they

did before. I don’t know if it’s effort or maybe they’re a little

older.”

Though Boston’s big three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray

Allen are in their 30s, they are still some of the NBA’s top

all-around players. Allen scored 20 points while Pierce and Garnett

each had 18 on Sunday. As a group, however, Boston’s struggles have

come on both ends of the court.

Boston has been held to 93 or fewer points in four of five

games, and it’s allowed an average of 106.0 in its last three.

“We’ve just got to keep dealing,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Our

goal (is) to get us at our peak when the playoffs start and see

where we are at, but we’ve got to get there and we have to work

there. We have a lot of work to do.”

The Celtics can start Monday in the opener of a favorable

two-game home stretch against Detroit (23-43) and New York.

Though Boston split the two previous games with Detroit – both

at The Palace of Auburn Hills – this season, the Pistons have lost

eight of 10 overall heading into this contest, including a 105-100

loss to the Celtics on March 2. Allen had 18 points and Rajon Rondo

added 15 with 11 assists for the Celtics in that contest.

Rondo is averaging 18.0 points and 9.0 assists against Detroit

this season.

The Pistons, on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first

time since 2000-01, look to bounce back from a 112-99 loss at

Atlanta on Saturday.

Jason Maxiell had 19 points with 12 rebounds and Richard

Hamilton added 18 as Detroit trailed by as many as 28 while losing

its sixth straight road game and falling to 7-25 away from

home.

“It’s always tough to come back when you’re down by so much,”

Hamilton said. “You’re fighting an uphill battle the whole game. “I

can’t see any positives out of this game.”

Detroit’s 6-foot-10 rookie Jonas Jerebko had 16 points and 10

rebounds earlier this month against Boston, but his status is

uncertain after injurying his shoulder against Atlanta.