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Celtics visit Pistons looking to avenge earlier loss

Celtics travel to take on the Pistons for the 2nd of 4 meetings this season.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (16-13) at Detroit Pistons (17-13)
Saturday, December 26, 2015
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #30, Road Game #15
TV: CSNNE, FS Detroit, NBA-LP 754(xfinity), 759(DTV)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 105.1 FM
Palace of Auburn Hills

Referees: John Goble, Curtis Blair, Eric Dalen

The Celtics travel to take on the Detroit Pistions for the second of 4 meetings this season. They will meet for the final 2 games on 1/6 and 2/3 in Boston. These two teams meet for the second time in 10 days with the Pistons beating the Celtics 119-116 on December 16 in Detroit.

That game ended the Celtics 10 game back to back on the road win streak. Detroit opened the fourth quarter in that game on a 14-2 run to take a game-high 14-point lead with 7:50 remaining, but the Celtics made a comeback to slice the lead to just one point with 19.3 seconds remaining. The Pistons put the game away from the free throw line in spite of a 3 pointer from Isaiah Thomas, who finished the game with a game high 38 points.

The Celtics are 8-6 on the road, while the Pistons are 10-4 at home. In that last game, the Celtics were coming off a tough game the night before against the Cavaliers while the Pistons came into the game well rested. In spite of the Celtics depth, it seemed that they just ran out of gas. Both teams should be rested for this game.

According to the Globe, Amir Johnson is likely to play this game after missing 2 games with plantar fasciitis in his foot. Jared Sullinger who missed a game last week started their last game on Wednesday and should be available to start this game as well. Marcus Smart has been cleared to play and may make his return on Saturday against the Knicks.. Kelly Olynyk has started the past 2 games and played well in them and probably should start this one as well.

For the Pistions, they will once again be missing Jodie Meeks who is out with a foot injury and Brandon Jennings who is out with an Achilles injury. They will have the same starting 5 as they did in the December 16 game between these two teams. The Celtics are just 1/2 a game behind the Pistons for the 8th spot in the East. The Pistions lost their last game and are hoping to avoid a 2 game losing streak while the Celtics have won 2 in a row and are looking for their 3rd straight win.

Probable Starters

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Kelly Olynyk
C: Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves
Evan Turner
Jonas Jerebko
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jordan Mickey
Tyler Zeller
David Lee
RJ Hunter

Marcus Smart (leg) out
Amir Johnson (plantar fasciitis) questionable

Head Coach

Brad Stevens

Probable Starters

PG: Reggie Jackson

SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

SF: Marcus Morris

PF: Ersan Ilyasova

C: Andre Drummond

Pistons Reserves

Joel Anthony

Aron Baynes

Steve Blake

Reggie Bullock

Spencer Dinwiddie

Darrun Hilliard

Stanley Johnson

Anthony Tolliver


Jodie Meeks (foot) out

Brandon Jennings (Achilles) out

Head Coach

Stan Van Gundy

Key Matchups


Isaiah Thomas vs Reggie Jackson

Jackson is very quick and is always a threat to drive to the basket. He is averaging 20.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.0 steals. It will be up to the combo of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley to slow him down on the offensive end.


Jared Sullinger vs Andre Drummond

Drummond is a beast in the paint on both ends of the court and is averaging 18.0 points, 16.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game. Last season in the 3 games against the Celtics, he averaged 22.3 point and 16.7 rebounds. In the first game with the Celtics, Drummond had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Drummond's weakness seems to be from the line where he is shooting just 37.9%. Jared will definitely have his hands full trying to slow him down and to rebound against him.

Honorable Mention

Avery Bradley vs Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

In the first game between these two teams, Caldwell-Pope scored a career high 31 points and he hit 4 clutch free throws down the stretch. Avery needs to concentrate on defense to keep KCP from having another big game.

Keys to the Game

Run, Run, Run - The Celtics have proved that when they run and move the ball up the court quickly, good things happen. When they over dribble and slow the game down, they struggle all the way around. They need to push the ball on every opportunity and push the pace, but also play under control.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be aggressive in going for loose balls, rebounding and defending. They also have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for jumpers. Good things happen when they get into the paint. They have to be hungry and play like the team that wants it more. They have to play aggressively for 48 minutes.

Rebound - Rebounding takes effort and desire. The Celtics will need both in order to beat the big front line of the Pistons to the rebounds. The Pistons are 3rd in the league in rebounding with 47.6 per game. The Celtics will have to work extra hard to beat them to the boards.

Defense- The Celtics need to play tough team defense, especially in the paint. It doesn't matter how much they score if they can't stop the Pistons from scoring more. They must play defense and get stops especially at the end of the game. No let ups! They allowed 119 points to the Pistons in their first meeting and they have to do much better on defense in this one. The Celtics are 15-2 when holding teams under 100, showing how important defense is to their success.

Play as a Team - The Celtics have to play as a team and move the ball to find the open man. They have to defend as a team and rebound as a team. Hero ball rarely wins games and so they need to have each other's backs and play together. The Celtics have had 8 games in which a Celtic has scored 27 points or more but 6 of those performances came in losses. The Celtics are best when they spread the scoring and play as a team.

Move the Ball - The Celtics must move the ball and find the open man. They struggle to score when the ball stops moving. In the 3 losses before the win over the Wolves, the Celtics had 18,17, and 19 assists. In the win on Monday, they had 34 assists on 46 made baskets in the win on Monday and 25 assists on 36 made baskets on Wednesday. It's not a coincidence that they win when their assist total is higher.


Revenge Factor - The Celtics have the loss to the Pistons 10 days ago still fresh in their mind. The fact that this loss ended their streak of back to back wins on the road should give it a little extra sting. This should give them extra motivation to do whatever it takes to get the win in this game.

Kelly Factor - Kelly Olynyk didn't score in 16 minutes of play in the Celtics loss to the Pistons on 12/16. He led 6 Celtics in double figures in the win over the Timberwolves and he led 5 players in double figures in the win over Charlotte. He averages 12.5 points in the Celtics wins but just 6.2 points in the Celtics losses. As Kelly said, "The bounce is real."

Officiating Factor - The officiating is always an x-factor in every game. Will the refs let them play or will they call every little bit of contact. Will they call it evenly or will they favor one team or the other. In the first game vs the Pistons, the Celtics took just 24 free throws to 43 for the Pistons and the Pistons got the benefit of quite a few questionable calls.

Official Report
John Goble

John Goble enters his ninth season having officiated 514 regular season games and 28 playoff games. He also officiated the 2010 NBA All-Star Rookie/Sophmore game. Prior to working in the NBA, Goble officiated 104 games over four seasons in the NBA D-League and was selected to officiate the 2007 Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Southeastern Conference, where he was a tournament official in 2006 and 2007, and the Sunshine State Conference.

In the past, Goble has been good in some games and terrible in others. He was the referee who called the clothesline on Barbosa in a Nets game 3 seasons ago a regular foul. He also called a foul at the end of that game on an obvious clean steal that could have changed the outcome of the game. In a Clippers game two seasons ago, he ignored fouls by the Clippers and called phantom fouls on the Celtics all game. Tommy made the comment that the Celtics had no shot to win after the officiating took over. Last season, against the Timberwolves, the officiating was terrible and the Wolves shot 32 free throws to 9 for the Celtics. In the last game he called for the Celtics last season against the Pacers, there were quite a few head scratching calls prompting Tommy to yell "That's terrible" several times. The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Goble and the Pistons are 5-5 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 12-10.

Curtis Blair

Curtis Blair is entering his ninth NBA season having officiated 383 regular season games. Blair has six seasons of NBA D-League experience and worked the 2008 NBA D-League Finals. He also officiated in several college conferences, including the Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast Conference and the CAA. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 1992 and played professionally in Australia, Austria and Turkey.

Like most refs, Blair has been good and bad in previous Celtics games. He called the Clippers game with Goble two seasons ago that very much favored the Clippers. In his final game with the Celtics last season against OKC, the game was called fairly in the first half, but in the third quarter, OKC took 15 free throws to 4 for the Celtics with many bad calls going in favor of the Thunder. The 4th was again called fairly evenly, but with every ticky tack foul called, there was no flow to the game. This season, he called the Bulls game and in that game they let them play and the officiating was good. Blair calls an average of 45.2 fouls per game with 51.5% of those being called on the road team. The Celtics are 1-0 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Blair while the Pistons are 6-4 in their last 10. His home W/L record is 12-8.

Eric Dalen

Eric Dalen officiated 367regular season games in his first seven NBA seasons. Prior to the NBA, Dalen worked for five seasons in the NBA D-League and officiated the 2008 All-Star Game and Finals. He also officiated for three years in the Southeastern Conference. Dalen was a two-year letter winner at the University of Minnesota where he played tight end for the football team.

I couldn't find much controversy on the guy other than an article where Andrew Bynum was complaining about Dalen calling all 6 fouls on him in a game in 2008. Some games he has called for the Celtics have been evenly called and well officiated while others have been terrible with bad and no calls and one sided officiating. In a game vs Detroit last season, the Celtics shot 34 free throws to 10 for the Pistons and the Celtics got the benefit of most of the questionable calls. He may be good or he may be bad depending on the other refs and the game. He called the game vs the Sixers this season and the officiating was good and they let them play. Just 18 free throws for the Celtics and 15 for the Sixers. The Celtics are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Dalen. The Pistons are 1-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10. Dalen calls 40.4 fouls per game with 51.3% called on the home team. His home W/L record this season is 11-8.

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