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Celtics begin home stand with a visit from the Detroit Pistons

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The Celtics look to win their 4th straight game as they host the Detroit Pistons for the 3rd of 4 meetings this season.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

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Detroit Pistons (21-26)  at  Boston Celtics (29-18)
Monday, January 30, 2017
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #48, Home Game #25
TV: TNT 
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 105.1 FM
TD Garden
Referees: Zach Zarba, Leroy Richardson, Justin VanDuyne


The Pistons visit the TD Garden to take on the Celtics for the 3rd of 4 game this season.  The series is 1-1 so far this season with each team winning on the other team's court.  They will meet one more time in Detroit on February 26. 

The Celtics have won 3 in a row while the Pistons have lost their last two against the Kings at home and the Heat on the road.  Both teams last played on Saturday night.  The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Pistons are 5-5 in their last 10.   The Celtics are 15-8 at home while the Pistons are 9-16 on the road. 

The Celtics have won their last two games without both Avery Bradley (Achilles) and Al Horford (groin).  Both are listed as game time decisions for this game.  The Celtics could use Al Horford back for this game as Andre Drummond is tough to slow down and Al certainly would help.  The Pistons don't have any injuries to report at this time. 

I'm taking a guess with the Celtics starting lineup.  If Al Horford or Avery Bradley come back, they would more than likely return to the starters.  If neither return,  the Celtics would likely stick with the lineup that has been successful over the last 3 games with Jaylen Brown and Jonas Jerebko in the starting lineup.   Jerebko may remain with the starters even if Horford returns with Amir Johnson coming off the bench.  At this time,  it's all just a guess. 



Probable Starters

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Jonas Jerebko
C: Amir Johnson

Celtics Reserves
Gerald Green
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Marcus Smart
Kelly Olynyk

Injuries
Avery Bradley (Achilles) game time decision
Al Horford (groin) game time decision

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Starters

PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Marcus Morris
PF: Jon Leuer
C:  Andre Drummond

Pistons Reserves
Aron Baynes
Henry Ellenson
Michael Gbinije
Darrun Hilliard
Stanley Johnson
Boban Marjanovic
Beno Udrih
Ish Smith
Tobias Harris
Reggie Bullock

Injuries
None

Head Coach
Stan VanGundy

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Reggie Jackson
Isaiah Thomas has been on a tear.  He has scored 20+ points in the past 31 games and is within reach of Havlicek's Celtics record of 40.  The Celtics are 22-9 in those 31 games.  In the 22 games since Isaiah returned from the groin injury, he is averaging 31.6 points per game.  Jackson has averaged 16.2 points in 12 career games vs Boston.  He is averaging 17.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists on the year.  This should be a fun matchup to watch. 

vs
Amir Johnson vs Andre Drummond
Drummond is a beast in the paint on both ends of the court and is averaging 14.3 points, 13.6rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game.   Last season in the 3 games against the Celtics, he averaged 22.3 points and 16.7 rebounds. In the first 2 meeting between these two teams, Drummond averaged 20 points and 17 rebounds.   Amir (or Al) will definitely have his hands full trying to slow him down and to rebound against him. 

Honorable Mention
Jae Crowder vs  Marcus Morris
Morris is averaging 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists.   In the first meeting  between these two teams, Morris scored a team high 24 points playing power forward.  He's now moved to small forward and Jae will have his hands full keeping Morris from having a big game again in this one. 

Keys to the Game
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.  Their defense has shown some improvement in recent games and hopefully that will continue in this game.  Detroit was #2 in defense over their first 27 games but have regressed to 28th in the 20 games since then.  The Celtics especially has to defend the pick and roll with Reggie Jackson because the Pistons rely on that especially late in games. 

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.  In their loss to the Pistons this season,  the Celtics were out-rebounded 52-33.  The Celtics will have to work extra hard to beat them to the boards and prevent that from happening once again. 

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 threes especially if they aren't falling . Good things happen when they get inside. They have to be hungry and play like the team that wants it more. We've seen that over their last 3 wins and hopefully they bring that aggressive gritty play in this game.   They have to play aggressively for 48 minutes. 

X-Factors
Home Game - The Celtics are at home and should get a boost from the home crowd.  Also, the Pistons for some reason have struggled on the road this season, winning just 9 of 25 games away from home.  The Celtics need to take advantage of the friendly atmosphere and exploit the Pistons' struggles on the road. 

Focus - The Celtics have won 3 straight game and the Pistons have been slumping somewhat.  Hopefully the Celtics keep their focus and not underestimate the Pistions.  We know from their losses to the Knicks and Trailblazers that they can lose focus and get beaten by teams that they should dominate.  If the Celtics can stay focused and stay aggressive, especially on defense, they should get a win. 

Motivation
- After the Raptors lost to the Magic on Sunday, the Celtics are in sole possession of the second seed in the East.  A win in this game would put them a full game ahead of The Raptors with a meeting with the Raptors coming up next.  Second place would mean that Brad Stevens would coach the East team at the All Star Game.   Can the Celtics use that motivation to keep them playing hard enough to get a win? 

Officiating -  Officiating is always an X-Factor.  Every crew calls the game a little differently.  Some let them play and some call every little touch foul.  The Celtics definitely do better when the refs let them play.  Hopefully the refs will call the game fairly and let them play in this one.  They may even get a little home cooking, but probably not.