There's little doubt that the Boston Celtics have rebounded from a recent slump and reclaimed their early-season form over the course of their current nine-game winning streak.
To keep that run alive, they will need to beat a Detroit Pistons team hoping for a similar resurgence.
The Celtics go for their 10th straight win Friday night when they visit the Pistons, who are looking to end a rough three-week stretch by notching their first win against the defending NBA champs since getting eliminated by them in last season's Eastern Conference finals.
Boston (38-9) won 27 of its first 29 games for the best start in the franchise's storied history before dropping seven of nine games from Dec. 25-Jan. 9. The Celtics have snapped out of that funk by winning nine straight by an average of 16.5 points.
They extended the streak with a 119-100 victory over Sacramento on Wednesday night. Reserve guard Eddie House, one of five different Celtics players to lead the team in scoring during its win streak, scored a season-high 28 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field.
"Any given night it could be anyone," said House, who made eight of his nine 3-point attempts.
After failing to score more than 15 points in any of his first 42 games, House has at least 23 in three of his last four. He's 22-for-32 (68.8 percent) from behind the arc in that stretch, an impressive display his teammates think should earn him a spot in the 3-point contest over All-Star weekend.
"He needs to be in the 3-point contest," said Kevin Garnett, selected as an All-Star starter. "That's what this press conference is about: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are here to say that we think Eddie House needs to be in the 3-point contest."
While House has helped fuel the Celtics' resurgence, the Pistons are hoping Rasheed Wallace can do the same for them. The veteran center matched his season high with 25 points and added 10 rebounds in a 98-89 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday night. It was Detroit's fourth win in 12 games since its season-high seven-game winning streak Dec. 23-Jan. 4.
"We really needed it. I think we needed it more than (the Timberwolves)," Wallace said of the victory. "They were pretty hot here in the month of January. I think we just wanted a little more to get off this (darn) slide we were on."
After totaling seven points and 11 rebounds over his previous two games, Wallace has recorded back-to-back double-doubles. He had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a 108-105 loss to Houston on Sunday.
"He's been much better the last couple games," Pistons coach Michael Curry said.
Wallace is convinced that he and the Pistons can build on Wednesday's win as they head into the first of two games against the East's elite. After Boston on Friday, Detroit hosts Cleveland on Sunday.
"Definitely," Wallace told the team's official Web site when asked if the Pistons were ready to compete with the best in the conference. "Definitely. Like I said, it's determination. We're determined and we definitely have to put our foot on the gas coming into All-Star break and we're just going to have to drive forward."
Detroit, though, has had problems beating Boston. Since trading for Garnett and Ray Allen in the summer of 2007, the Celtics have won eight of 11 games against the Pistons, including four of five at The Palace of Auburn Hills and four of six in the Eastern Conference finals last spring.
Boston has won the teams' first two meetings this season by an average of 15.0 points. Wallace has been held to 23 total points and 8-for-26 shooting (30.8 percent) in those games.
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