Pistons-Celtics Preview

Josh Smith has posted back-to-back 30-point efforts for the

second time in his career.

Reaching that total again could be difficult in a city where he

has had trouble in the past.

Smith and the Detroit Pistons look to continue their recent road

success when they meet the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Detroit (12-14) enters after splitting two games against the

league’s best teams, falling 111-109 in overtime at home to

Portland on Sunday before ending Indiana’s 11-0 home start the next

night with a 101-96 victory.

Smith scored 31 against the Trail Blazers before a 30-point

effort versus a Pacers team that leads the NBA in field-goal

percentage defense.

“We keep putting him on the block and he’s being aggressive,

attacking the rim,” coach Maurice Cheeks told the Pistons’ official

website. “He’s getting a ton of opportunities. He’s just playing a

full basketball game.”

The outburst is a welcome one for Smith, who is averaging 15.0

points – his lowest mark in eight seasons.

”We’re forming an identity ourselves,” Smith said. ”That has

to be being a physical team, try to dominate the paint.”

Smith, though, is a career 39.1 percent shooter in Boston for

his second-lowest mark in an Eastern Conference city. That doesn’t

include six postseason games there in which he averaged 12.8 points

on 32.1 percent shooting and his Atlanta Hawks lost every time.

The Celtics (12-14) are still expecting a tough matchup with

Smith, whose other set of back-to-back 30-point games came March

21-23, 2012.

“Josh Smith is playing well, that Indiana game was his second

30-point game so we’ve got to limit him as much as possible,”

Boston guard Courtney Lee said.

The Pistons have captured five of their last six road games but

have dropped five of six in Boston. The Celtics have won five of

six at home overall.

Detroit could be confident in this contest after winning 87-77

at home over the Celtics on Nov. 3. That remains Boston’s lowest

point total.

Even though the Celtics have the same record as the Pistons,

coach Brad Stevens made Detroit sound like title contenders at

Tuesday’s practice.

“I’ve always thought they were one of the most talented teams,

especially in the East,” Stevens said. “They’ve got a 3-man who is

playing like an All-Star in Josh Smith, who is not a normal 3-man.

You’ve got a guy like (Greg) Monroe who’s a bonafide scorer, who

can get the ball on either block and score, can drive it from the

elbow and score, can make mid-range shots.

“(They have) probably other than Dwight Howard the next most

athletic center in the league in Andre Drummond. And then you’ve

got perimeter guys in (Rodney) Stuckey, (Brandon) Jennings,

(Chauncey) Billups, on down the line, (Will) Bynum, (Kentavious)

Caldwell-Pope is playing well, that can go off. So you’ve got a lot

of guys that can do a lot of things. They’re a very formidable

group in my opinion.”

Detroit held a 53-38 edge in points in the paint in the first

matchup. Drummond finished with 15 points – 10 on dunks – and 12

rebounds.

“I think when we played them this year in Detroit, Drummond had

like eight dunks in a row, so we’ve got to eliminate that,” said

Lee, exaggerating slightly.