Game Preview: Pistons at Celtics
Josh Smith has posted back-to-back 30-point efforts for the second time in his career.
Reaching that total again could be difficult in a city where he has had trouble in the past.
Smith and the Detroit Pistons look to continue their recent road success when they meet the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Detroit enters after splitting two games against the league's best teams, falling 111-109 in overtime at home to Portland on Sunday before ending Indiana's 11-0 home start the next night with a 101-96 victory.
Smith scored 31 against the Trail Blazers before a 30-point effort versus a Pacers team that leads the NBA in field-goal percentage defense.
"We keep putting him on the block and he's being aggressive, attacking the rim," coach Maurice Cheeks told the Pistons' official website. "He's getting a ton of opportunities. He's just playing a full basketball game."
The outburst is a welcome one for Smith, who is averaging 15.0 points - his lowest mark in eight seasons.
"We're forming an identity ourselves," Smith said. "That has to be being a physical team, try to dominate the paint."
Smith, though, is a career 39.1 percent shooter in Boston for his second-lowest mark in an Eastern Conference city. That doesn't include six postseason games there in which he averaged 12.8 points on 32.1 percent shooting and his Atlanta Hawks lost every time.
The Celtics are still expecting a tough matchup with Smith, whose other set of back-to-back 30-point games came March 21-23, 2012.
"Josh Smith is playing well, that Indiana game was his second 30-point game so we've got to limit him as much as possible," Boston guard Courtney Lee said.
The Pistons have captured five of their last six road games but have dropped five of six in Boston. The Celtics have won five of six at home overall.
Detroit could be confident in this contest after winning 87-77 at home over the Celtics on Nov. 3. That remains Boston's lowest point total.
Even though the Celtics have the same record as the Pistons, coach Brad Stevens made Detroit sound like title contenders at Tuesday's practice.
"I've always thought they were one of the most talented teams, especially in the East," Stevens said. "They've got a 3-man who is playing like an All-Star in Josh Smith, who is not a normal 3-man. You've got a guy like (Greg) Monroe who's a bonafide scorer, who can get the ball on either block and score, can drive it from the elbow and score, can make mid-range shots.
"(They have) probably other than Dwight Howard the next most athletic center in the league in Andre Drummond. And then you've got perimeter guys in (Rodney) Stuckey, (Brandon) Jennings, (Chauncey) Billups, on down the line, (Will) Bynum, (Kentavious) Caldwell-Pope is playing well, that can go off. So you've got a lot of guys that can do a lot of things. They're a very formidable group in my opinion."
Detroit held a 53-38 edge in points in the paint in the first matchup. Drummond finished with 15 points - 10 on dunks - and 12 rebounds.
"I think when we played them this year in Detroit, Drummond had like eight dunks in a row, so we've got to eliminate that," said Lee, exaggerating slightly.