Just when the Boston Celtics appeared to be in dire straits, they pulled off a big win at Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The Celtics will try to avoid a letdown and carry some momentum into the All-Star break when they host the streaking Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
Playing without All-Star guard Kyrie Irving (knee) and just three days removed from a dismal collapse against the Los Angeles Clippers that finished an 0-2 homestand, Boston pulled off a gritty 112-109 win over the 76ers to seize back fourth place in the Eastern Conference. "Good teams have clunkers, but good teams respond to those with the right effort and approach," Celtics coach Brad Stevens told the media. "... I just thought the whole night we played the right way." The Pistons have won four in a row -- one victory shy of matching their longest streak of the season -- and have moved into the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. They've hit the 120-point mark in three of the four straight victories, including Monday's 121-112 triumph over Washington at home.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS Detroit, NBCS Boston LINE: Celtics -6.5
ABOUT THE PISTONS (26-29): Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond combined for 63 points, 26 rebounds, nine assists (all Griffin's) and four steals (all Drummond's) in the win over the Wizards. "It's incredible. They're playing the way we obviously need them to play," teammate Luke Kennard told reporters. "Obviously, Dre in the last couple games has been unbelievable. Reggie (Jackson) the past couple weeks has been great for us. Obviously, Blake all year has been really, really consistent." Drummond is averaging 23 points and 15.5 rebounds during a string of eight consecutive double-doubles, while Jackson is 8-of-9 from 3-point range over his last two games.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (36-21): Gordon Hayward endured a recent seven-game stretch in which he scored four or fewer points on four occasions, but the reserve forward has since found his stroke and buried a career high-tying six 3-pointers in seven attempts en route to 26 points at Philadelphia. Al Horford added 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals as Boston improved to 26-10 against the East. Jayson Tatum chipped in 20 points and 10 boards and he is averaging 20.8 points and 8.8, respectively, over his last four games.
1. Irving was not with the team in Philadelphia and his status is uncertain for Wednesday's game.
2. Pistons SG Wayne Ellington missed all seven of his 3-point tries and had two points in 19 minutes in his team debut Monday.
3. Boston won both ends of a home-and-home in October before dropping a 113-104 decision at Detroit on Dec. 15.
PREDICTION: Celtics 109, Pistons 108 Bet Now
See all the NBA basketball Previews and Predictions