Celtics-Pistons Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 19, 2013
The Boston Celtics' recent roller-coaster ride of results has taken another downward dip. That's the same trend they've been on against the Detroit Pistons lately. The streaky Celtics look to get back on track Sunday night when they visit a Detroit team playing for the first time since its trip to London. After losing four straight Dec. 27-Jan. 2, Boston won six in a row. The Celtics (20-19), however, have since suffered back-to-back losses at home - the latest coming when Marco Belinelli made an off-balance fadeaway with 3.1 seconds left to give Chicago a 100-99 overtime victory Friday. "I didn't think we played very well," coach Doc Rivers said. "I didn't think we played very smart. We hung in there, which is a good sign." Boston will try for its third straight road victory Sunday, but recent history suggests it won't come easy. The Pistons (14-25) have won three in a row at home against the Celtics by an average of 15.7 points, and they've taken three in a row in the series overall. Greg Monroe, Detroit's leader with 15.4 points per game, has played a big role in that. He's averaged 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 64.3 percent in the last four against Boston, scoring 20 and grabbing 13 boards as the Pistons took the latest meeting 103-83 at home Nov. 18. Guard Rodney Stuckey, who's totaled 22 points in his last three games, has scored 18.3 per contest in his past three against the Celtics. The Pistons have also been very inconsistent recently, dropping three of four since a 6-1 stretch that followed a six-game losing streak. They'll be looking to avoid their third straight home defeat while trying to shake off a 102-87 rout by New York in London on Thursday. "We came here to play a competition ... on an international stage, which is a privilege and an honor to be selected, so it's disappointing that we came up short and didn't play our best," coach Lawrence Frank said. Detroit will try to regain its shooting touch, having made 32.3 percent from 3-point range and 61.1 percent from the free-throw line in the past five games. That may not be easy to do against Boston, which has limited opponents to 26.1 percent from beyond the arc in its latest five contests. Rajon Rondo will look to carry over the momentum from a season-high 30-point performance against the Bulls. The point guard had a career-high 35 points in a 98-88 loss to the Pistons on Feb. 15, but he's totaled 17 points in the last two meetings and had six turnovers both times despite also recording 10 assists in those two games. Boston needs stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to get their shooting back on track. Pierce has made 32.7 from the floor in the last three games, while Garnett has shot 31.3 or below in two of those three contests. The Celtics have averaged 88.7 points in that stretch. They've scored 84.0 per contest during their three-game skid versus the Pistons. Boston guard Avery Bradley is doubtful to play Sunday after missing Friday's game because of a rib injury.
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