The Boston Celtics rebounded from a recent swoon by beating up on a few sub-.500 teams, but some significant tests are on the horizon. They will try to avoid looking too far ahead when they host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday in the finale of a three-game homestand.
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After the Pistons leave town, Boston finishes a back-to-back with a visit to the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks and four days later hosts the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics had dropped three in a row before knocking off New Orleans by 35 points to open the homestand and then riding Jayson Tatum's 21 points to a 113-101 win over Chicago on Monday. Two nights after the Pelicans were blown out in Boston, they defeated the Pistons in Detroit by a 117-110 margin in overtime. Derrick Rose scored 23 points to lead Detroit, which has dropped three straight and 12 of 15.
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: FS Detroit, NBCS Boston
ABOUT THE PISTONS (14-27): Detroit has been playing shorthanded for some time and it went without star center Andre Drummond in the fourth quarter and overtime in Monday's loss, although coach Dwane Casey indicated the move was just in the flow of the game. "In a situation like that, we're looking for five or six men who are playing hard and who can finish the game for us," Casey told reporters. "It wasn't a message for Andre as much as a message for everyone who wasn't on the floor. The young guys were playing hard and earned the right to be out there." Christian Wood ate up most of those available minutes and finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (27-11): Guard Marcus Smart endured some inconsistent efforts after returning from an eye issue that cost him eight games, but he has now put together a few solid performances and was the catalyst against the Bulls. "It feels good," Smart told reporters after posting 12 points, eight assists and three steals off the bench. "Those [three] weeks I was out really took a toll on me mentally, physically and emotionally - not being out there with those guys, and just really stuck in one room, in solitary confinement, and not being able to do anything. It was tough. So it feels good to get my legs back under me and to really get my wind back." Center Enes Kanter made his first start in nearly two months in Monday's win and finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
1. Celtics C Daniel Theis (knee) sat out the win over Chicago and is day-to-day.
2. Drummond has logged a total of 41 minutes over the last two games after putting in a season-high 49 in an overtime loss to Cleveland on Thursday.
3. Tatum and G Jaylen Brown scored 26 points apiece to lead Boston to a 114-93 win in the first matchup Dec. 20.