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Celtics continue their playoff push as they visit the Detroit Pistons

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The Celtics continue on their quest to the playoffs as they visit the Detroit Pistons and look to avenge their March loss to them.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (35-42) at Detroit Pistons (30-47)
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
7:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #78, Road Game #39
TV: CSNNE, FS Detroit, ESPN
Radio: 100.7 WZLX, 105.1 FM
Palace of Auburn Hills

Referees: Danny Crawford, Eric Dalen, Courtney Kirkland

This is the third and final game between these two teams this season. The series is tied 1-1 with the Celtics winning one game in Boston and the Pistons winning their last meeting in Boston. Both of their previous games went into overtime. The Pistons snapped an 8 game road losing streak with their last win in Boston. Marcus Smart was serving his one game suspension in that game and Sully and Isaiah Thomas were both out injured also.

Detroit has won 8 consecutive games against the Celtics in Detroit. The Pistons are also looking to extend a home win streak to six for the first time since 2008. The Celtics 4 consecutive road games are their most since 2010. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games and are 16-22 on the road. The Pistons are 6-4 in their last 10 games and they are 17-21 at home.

Greg Monroe has missed 11 games with a right knee strain. He practiced with the team on Monday and is expected to start for the Pistons in this game. Spencer Dinwiddie is questionable with an ankle injury and Brandon Jennings is out with an Achilles tear. Jae Crowder didn't practice on Monday with an ankle sprain but is expected to play in this one.

Jonas Jerebko and Gigi Datome are making their first trip back to Detroit since the trade deadline when they were sent to Boston for Tayshaun Prince. I'm sure that they would very much like to show the Pistons and their fans that they are capable of helping a team win, a chance they didn't get with the Pistons for the most part.

The Celtics are hanging onto the 8th seed currently but are in a dog fight with 4 other teams. Brooklyn is 1 game ahead of the Celtics in the 7th spot. Miami is .5 games behind the Celtics while Indiana is 1 game back. Charlotte is 2 games behind the Celtics. Detroit is out of the playoff picture and they are holding the 8th worst record, 2 games behind Denver, who own the 7th worst record. For those watching the scoreboard, Toronto @ Charlotte, Atlanta @ Brooklyn and Indiana @ Knicks.



Probable Starters

PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Evan Turner
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Tyler Zeller

Celtics Reserves

Gerald Wallace
Phil Pressey
Jonas Jerebko
Gigi Datome
Kelly Olynyk
Isaiah Thomas
Jae Crowder
Jared Sullinger

Injuries

Jae Crowder (ankle) probable

With Red Claws
Chris Babb
James Young

Head Coach
Brad Stevens



Probable Starters

PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Greg Monroe
C: Andre Drummond

Pistons Reserves
Joel Anthony
Spencer Dinwiddie
John Lucas III
Cartier Martin
Jodie Meeks
Quincy Miller
Tayshaun Prince
Shawne Williams
Anthony Tolliver

Injuries
Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle) questionable
Brandon Jennings (Achilles) out

Head Coach
Stan Van Gundy



Key Matchups
vs
Marcus Smart vs Reggie Jackson
Jackson is very quick and is always a threat to drive to the basket. He is averaging 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. Marcus Smart missed the last meeting between these two teams and the Celtics will very much need his defense to keep Jackson from having a big game.

vs
Tyler Zeller vs Andre Drummond
Drummond is a beast in the paint and is averaging 13.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Zeller is going to have to play very well on both ends of the court to keep him in check.

Honorable Mention
Brandon Bass vs Greg Monroe
Monroe is rejoining the team after missing the last 11 games with a knee injury and is expected to start. The Pistons have played very well without him in the lineup and there are questions as to how he will fit in on his return. He is a very good player and he will also be a free agent this summer so his play down the stretch will be important for him. Will his return help or hurt the Pistons?

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 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 inside. 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 4th in the league in rebounding with 45.0 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 other team from scoring more. They must play defense and get stops especially at the end of the game. No let ups!

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.

Focus and Motivation

The Celtics are on the road and have to stay focused and try to block out the distractions and hostile crowd that come with being on the road. They also have to keep their goal of making the playoffs at the front of their minds and give 100% effort to make it happen.

Official Report

Danny Crawford

Entering his 30th NBA season, Dan Crawford has officiated 1,926 regular season and 265 Playoff games, including 30 NBA Finals games. During his NBA tenure, Crawford has officiated the 1994 and 2001 NBA All-Star Games, and the 1992 Japan Games in Yokohama. Prior to joining the NBA, Crawford spent four years officiating in the CBA. He has eight years of collegiate officiating experience in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conferences, and he officiated the 1983 and 1984 National Junior College Nationals.

After one of the Celtics playoff games in Chicago in round 1 in 2008, there was some controversy when he was seen leaving the arena with his family all decked out in Chicago Bulls gear (along with Marc Davis and his family). He was in the news last season because he was accused of having a bias against Marc Cuban because the Mavs were 2-16 in games officiated by Crawford two seasons ago and Cuban was very vocal about it. The Celtics are 1-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Crawford on the court while the Pistons are 3-2 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 with Crawford. His home win/loss record this season is 35-23.

Eric Dalen

Eric Dalen officiated 336 regular season games in his first six NBA seasons. Prior to the NBA, Dalen worked for five seasons in the NBA Development League and officiated the 2008 D-League All Star Game and the 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 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.

The Celtics are 0-2 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Dalen. He called 4 games for the Celtics 2 seasons ago. The first 3 were well officiated. But in the fourth, a loss to Chicago, the Bulls shot 28 free throws to 14 for the Celtics and the officiating was terrible. The Bulls shot 9 free throws before the Celtics shot 1 in spite of a lot of contact and no calls on behalf of the Bulls. Last season he called the OT loss to the Hawks where Atlanta took 36 free throws to 20 for the Celtics and the officiating was pretty much in their favor all game. He also called a loss to the Blazers, a win over the Jazz and a win over the Bobcats where the officiating was even in all 3. He wasn't bad in the two losses this season. The Pistons are 0-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games with Dalen officiating. His home W/L record this season is 19-8.

Courtney Kirkland

Over the past 14 seasons, Courtney Kirkland has officiated 852 regular season games and six playoff games. He also officiated two seasons in the WNBA, including the 2000 WNBA Finals and the 1999 Conference Finals. Kirkland also officiated the 2010 and 2011 Venezuelan LPB basketball championships. Prior to joining the NBA, Kirkland worked three seasons in the CBA where he officiated the 1999 and 2000 CBA Finals as well as the 2000 CBA All-Star Game. He was a high school official for four years as a member of the Baton Rouge (La.) Basketball Officials Association and was named Rookie Official of the Year in 1994.

Kirkland earned some measure of notoriety when he jumped in to block a Kris Humphries free throw in a Nets game last season. This season in a game vs the Grizzlies, there were quite a few terrible calls. One of the worst was when the ball hit the rim and the Celtics tipped it in and they called a 24 second violation without checking on the monitors in spite of pleas by every Celtic to do so. There were a lot of head scratching calls and non-calls in that game. In the win over the Pacers this season the free throw differential wasn't bad with 18 for the Celtics and 23 for the Pacers, but there were quite a few head scratching calls prompting "That's terrible!!" from Tommy several times. The Celtics are 4-0 this season and 4-6 in their last 10 games that Kirkland officiated. He can be good or bad depending on the game. The Pistons are 2-3 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Kirkland. His home W/L record this season is 30-25.