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Pistons vs. Celtics preview: 'Surprise' teams of the East face off

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Don't sleep on the Boston Celtics.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons have suffered their share of heart-breaking losses this year, including Monday's OT debacle against the Los Angeles Clippers, yet still find themselves two games over .500 with a chance to improve on that record on Wednesday night against their historic rivals Boston Celtics. If they're going to beat the much improved Celtics they'll have to focus on their match-ups and not suffer a hangover after another "should have had it" type game.

The Celtics are no team to sleep on, even though people around the NBA continue to doubt their talent, they continue to win and look good in doing so. The Cs even look good in their losses, as they almost knocked off the defending champs Golden State Warriors this past Friday.

This game is personal to me, seeing how I live in Boston and have to deal with the moaning and groaning New England fan base on a daily basis. These modern fans do not know pain. All they can remember are championships, whether that be with the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots or Celtics. They cannot look a Lions fan in their saddened eyes and share their experiences; they cannot look a Pistons fan in the face and understand what it's like to rest the hopes of your franchise on the shoulders of J-Smoove and Charlie V.

Every time a Detroit team gets a win against Boston, a dove takes flight and I sleep better at night, especially if it's the Detroit Pistons. So here's to my sleep schedule and to the Pistons taking care of business on their home floor.

Game Vitals

Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills

When: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 7:30PM EST

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, 105.1 FM

Game Analysis

The Boston Celtics enter tonight's game sitting at the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Their overall team stats shed light into why they've played so well, and why they'll continue to improve throughout the rest of the season. The Cs are currently sitting in the top 10 in points per game, assists per game, and opponents points allowed per game. They lack a true superstar, but make up their lack of talent with moving the ball efficiently and playing great team defense. The Celtics are only allowing their opponents to score 98.8 ppg on 43 FG%. Thus, the Pistons cannot afford to go through their all-to-common scoring droughts, when the starters get their rest.

Due to Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart's nagging injuries, Isaiah Thomas has been thrusted into the starting lineup, and he's taken full advantage of his new role. Thomas is currently averaging 20.8 ppg and 6.7 apg. But what his stats don't show, is his true play-making ability, where he's able to penetrate off the dribble, finish at the rim, and pass the ball out to a wing when he sucks in the defense. Thomas is the motor that makes this Celtics engine go.

You can expect to see spurts of Kentavious Caldwell Pope guarding Thomas in the hopes of suffocating the young point guard, which will illuminate the fact that the Celtics don't have a true secondary scoring option. Some nights Evan Turner will be the guy, other nights it's Jae Crowder's turn, but neither of these players have been able to show the ability to score on a nightly basis. If the Pistons are able to shut down the Celtics guards, and not go through long scoring droughts, they should be able to find a way to close the door on their Eastern Conference rivals.

Marquee Matchup

Andre Drummond vs. Boston Celtics Bigs

Andre Drummond is a rebounding machine, this is fact. The Boston Celtics allow 46.4 rebounds per game (good for 26th in the league), this is also fact. The Cs do not have a true defensive big since both Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller are offensive centers and not highly touted for their defensive rebounding abilities. Amir Johnson will physically not be able to keep Drummond off the glass and Jared Sullinger's lack of height will affect his ability to defend Andre Drummond tip-ins. I assume that Brad Stevens will throw everything but the kitchen sink at the big man to slow him down.

If Drummond is able to fight off double-teams, or simply outperform his match-ups, this should bode well for the Pistons offense. One positive takeaway from the Pistons loss to the Clippers, was how well the offense played in transition once Drummond shot the outlet pass to the streaking guards/wings. Look for the Pistons to continue their attacking transition offense if Andre Drummond is able continue playing like...well...Andre Drummond.

Last Time We Met

April 8, 2015 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Celtics won 113-103

The Celtics officially eliminated the Pistons from playoff contention. Isaiah Thomas torched the Pistons for 34 points, and shot 10/17 from the floor. This also marked the first team Stan Van Gundy failed to bring to the postseason. THIS Pistons team is not THAT Pistons team. It's time for revenge.

Lineup Prediction

Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond

Celtics: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger

Injuries/Out

Pistons: Jodie Meeks, Brandon Jennings

Celtics: Marcus Smart

Community Question

Who will finish the regular season with a better record, Pistons or Celtics? Predict their final regular season records in the comments!