Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills - Auburn Hills, MI
When: Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 @ 7:00 PM Eastern
Watch: ESPN, Fox Sports Detroit
Listen: 105.1 FM
The Pistons' playoff hopes could be crushed tonight. One could argue that they were crushed when the Pistons started the season 5-23. One could argue that they were crushed with the Pistons most recent 10 game losing streak. However, mathematically, they have not been eliminated from the playoffs just yet.
Last year the Pistons were officially eliminated from playoff contention on April 6th with an Atlanta Hawks win, putting them six games behind the eighth seeded Hawks with only five Pistons games remaining. Again, the Pistons only have five games remaining. They are exactly five games behind the Celtics who currently control the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. With a loss to the Celtics tonight, Detroit would officially, mathematically, be eliminated from the 2014-15 NBA Playoffs.
The Celtics are playing .500 basketball over their last 10 games. However, those wins and losses are the ones you would expect from Boston. Wins against the Brooklyn
Gnats Nets, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers. They narrowly escaped a 4QC against the Toronto Raptors (in Toronto) to win in overtime by one. Their losses were to the San Antonio Spurs, the Miami Heat, The Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks. Also, thrown in there, was a loss to the Pistons in Boston. Boston comes to Detroit having lost their last six games in Detroit. Pray that streak continues.
The Pistons have been playing inspired ball of late. It could be the team finally meshing with Reggie Jackson. It could be Reggie having the room he needed when Greg Monroe went down. It could be Reggie fighting for a big contract offer this summer. Whatever it is, Reggie has been playing career ball over the last 11 where the Pistons have gone 7-4. Three of those losses severely hurt the Pistons playoffs chances: Philadelphia 76ers, Heat and Hornets. Losing in Chicago was likely to happen.
Monroe will be back in the starting lineup tonight and hopes to keep things working smoothly. Monroe's presence will be needed as Boston has Jared Sullinger back. The Pistons bigs have had some foul trouble of late and could use Monroe against the likes of Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko, Brandon Bass and Tyler Zeller. Detroit is barely favored to win this game.
Players to Watch
Pistons: Greg Monroe
The Moose is back! But is he in game shape? He says he's been running but that is nothing compared to being in game shape. This is also his first lengthy absence of his career and we do not know how that will affect him mentally. Will he be holding back as to not strain the knee again? Also, this is a nationally televised game when Monroe will be coming up on self-appointed unrestricted free agency. The timing just seems non-coincidental. He says he's been paying attention to what Reggie needs and that those lanes will still be there, but will Stan Van Gundy make the lineup changes needed at the right times to win?
Celtics: Jared Sullinger
This is only his third game back after missing the last 24, and he only played 12 minutes in their win against Toronto, but that was likely due to foul trouble on Bass and Zeller. But with Boston barely clinging to a half game lead over the Heat for the final playoff spot, they will need him. In his career he's averaged 13.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game against Detroit in only 27 minutes a game. It may be best to play Monroe against Sullinger every chance they get.
Last Time We Met
March 22nd, 2015: Pistons 105, Celtics 97
Trailing by six points at halftime, the Pistons fought back in the second half to force the game into overtime for an eventual win.
The Pistons would nearly double up the Celtics in the overtime frame, 17-9 on 4-for-5 shooting (2-for-3 from deep) and 7-for-10 from the charity stripe against 4-10 shooting from Boston. In one of the few inefficient games from Jackson (who still finished with 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds) of late, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope filled in nicely scoring 27 points on 10-for-20 shooting (3-for-8 from deep) to go with eight rebounds (ties season high) and two steals. Andre Drummond also had himself a game scoring 18 points go to with 22 rebounds and four blocks. Jodie Meeks played well off the bench scoring 14 points and pulling down 5 rebounds.
Boston was lead by Evan Turner who put up 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Boston would also have five other players score in double figures and four other players with eight or more rebounds.
Pistons 102, Celtics 90
Pistons: Jennings (Achilles)
Pistons: Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Caron Butler, Monroe, Drummond
Celtics: Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Turner, Bass, Zeller
Do the Celtics put an end to the Pistons' playoff hopes tonight?