Game Preview: Celtics at Pistons
While Josh Smith has been solid, the Detroit Pistons may become even more dangerous on the offensive end with their other big-name acquisition on the court.
Brandon Jennings could make his season debut when the Pistons go for a fifth consecutive home victory over the winless Boston Celtics on Sunday night.
Acquired in a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee this summer, Jennings has yet to play due to an impacted wisdom tooth and hairline fracture in his jaw. Jennings, who has averaged 17.0 points in his four NBA seasons, is considered a game-time decision.
"It's just a process," he told the team's official website. "When you have a broken jaw, you can't just come back and start chewing everything. I'm still eating soft food right now."
Jennings could further boost a Pistons team that's shot 48.5 percent in splitting its first two games. After beating Washington 113-102 on Wednesday, Detroit fell 111-108 in overtime at Memphis on Friday.
"(Friday) night was a good opportunity for us to see where we are to see if we can compete with a team that was in the Western Conference finals," Jennings said. "I took a lot of confidence off of that, to know we're going to be pretty good this year."
Smith shot 7 of 23 and had 19 points against the Grizzlies, but added eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks. Andre Drummond posted 12 points and 16 boards while Greg Monroe added 16 and eight.
"I think we have a dominant frontcourt, so it's going to be important that we get those guys the ball, especially Greg Monroe and Josh Smith," Jennings said. "I definitely have been paying attention. This year, my goal is to live in the paint. That way, I can make things happen for everybody."
The Pistons now turn their attention to Boston (0-2), which has been outscored by an average of 15.5 points during a four-game losing streak at Detroit.
The Celtics are trying to avoid losing their first three games for the second time in three seasons. They gave up a 22-point lead in the second half of a 105-98 defeat to Milwaukee on Friday.
"I want losing to hurt, first and foremost," coach Brad Stevens said. "Losing should hurt. But I don't want it to be something that lingers. You lose, you learn from it, and you move on."
Undrafted rookie Vitor Faverani had 12 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks, but Jeff Green shot 4-of-13 and had 13 points.
"We can't play like that. It all starts with me," said Green, who scored 25 in a 93-87 loss at Toronto on Wednesday. "We've got to get it going in the right direction and I take responsibility for that."
Despite the Celtics' poor start, Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks doesn't expect his team to take them lightly.
"Our mindset is that it doesn't matter who we're playing. We have to try to play a consistent style of basketball," Cheeks said.
Smith averaged 18.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists in his last seven regular-season games against Boston while with Atlanta. Jennings was limited to 9.7 points while shooting 29.4 percent in his last three against the Celtics.