2/13 Game Preview: Pistons at Celtics
Following two miserable months, the Detroit Pistons are heading toward the All-Star break on a high note.
They will try to collect their fifth straight victory when they play at Boston on Wednesday in their last game before getting eight days off.
Not surprisingly, the surge has been led by All-Star power forward Blake Griffin and center Andre Drummond. Griffin is averaging 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists during the winning streak while Drummond is averaging 26.3 points, 16.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks.
Both players topped the 30-point mark in Detroit's 121-112 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday. Drummond powered for 32 points, one shy of his career high, and grabbed 17 rebounds, while Griffin posted 31 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
"Blake and I have really done a good job of communicating both on and off the court of things we can do to help each other," Drummond said. "It's a nightmare for teams. You've got to pick your poison, who you want to get going. And it's scary when we both get it going."
Griffin believes his frontcourt partner should have joined him on All-Star weekend. The team's losing record made it tough for the league's coaches, who chose the All-Star reserves, to give two Pistons that honor.
"What happens if you lead the league in your record the second half of the season?" Griffin said to the team's website. "So now somebody got penalized for having a slow start or whatever it may be at the beginning? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I think Andre's taken that and really shown that he deserves to be there as well."
The Pistons have their eyes on a team prize -- their second playoff berth in a decade. They are one of six teams vying for the final three Eastern Conference playoff positions.
"Obviously, every (game) from here on out is an important one for us, but we're 5-1 in the last six," Detroit reserve guard Luke Kennard said. "We've got one more before the (All-Star) break, and it's just as important. We can't take our break now. We've got one more to take care of."
The Wednesday contest is the finale of a four-game season series. Boston won the first two and Detroit took the latest meeting 113-104 at home on Dec. 15.
The Celtics will be playing the second end of a back-to-back set. They bounced back from two home losses last week by going on the road and defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 112-109 on Tuesday.
Gordon Hayward scored 26 points off the Boston bench while Al Horford supplied 23 points and Jayson Tatum contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving sat out due to a knee injury and is doubtful to play on Wednesday.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was pleased by his team's performance without its best player.
"Good teams have clunkers, but good teams respond to those with the right effort and approach," he said. "That was a good one ... I just thought the whole night we played the right way. We fought. And that's what you have to do."
The Celtics committed just six turnovers, which is just what Stevens was looking for prior to the game.
"We have to play harder and better together," he said. "That's it. That's the bottom line."