National Basketball Association
Boston at Detroit
When: 7:00 PM ET, Friday, February 23, 2018
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
The Boston Celtics limped into the All-Star break with an 0-3 homestand while falling out of first place in the Eastern Conference. They hope some rest and a change of scenery sparks a turnaround, beginning with a visit to the Detroit Pistons on Friday.
"I think the break came just at the right time for our group," forward Al Horford told the team's website. Boston leads the Eastern Conference in scoring defense (99.6 points per game) but it gave up an average of 115.7 during the winless homestand. The Pistons were also struggling to limit opponents on the defensive end during a three-game slide of their own, but they managed to buckle down in a 104-98 win over Atlanta prior to the break. Detroit is 5-3 with power forward Blake Griffin - acquired in the blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Clippers last month - in the lineup.TV:
7 p.m. ET, NBCS Boston, FS DetroitABOUT THE CELTICS (40-19):
The break allowed guard Marcus Smart to heal a bit more and the point guard, who cut his hand punching a framed picture in January, has been cleared to return Friday, thankful he avoided a season-ending situation. "They pulled a glass piece out of the palm of my hand," Smart told reporters Wednesday. "And they said there are two tendons that ran along the pinkie and the glass was sitting right in between them." In addition to providing some sorely needed defensive toughness, Smart averaged 12.8 points while shooting 44.2 percent - well over his season mark of 35.7 - in eight January games.ABOUT THE PISTONS (28-29):
A busy game schedule limited Detroit's practice opportunities after the Griffin acquisition, but there are chances coming out of the break to refine things for a team that sits 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. "This is the second live practice we've had since Blake's been here," Van Gundy told the media Wednesday. "How much are you going to do in one day? We did a little today and we'll do a little more tomorrow, but you're not going to do 10 or 15 new things in a matter of two days. We'll just have to do it day by day, step by step." Griffin fell an assist shy of a triple-double in the win over Atlanta while center Andre Drummond had 13 points and 15 rebounds for his 12th straight double-double.BUZZER BEATERS
1. Pistons PG Reggie Jackson (ankle), who last played Dec. 26, has been cleared for light running and shooting.
2. Celtics All-Star PG Kyrie Irving averages 25.8 points while making 42.8 percent of his 3-point tries on the road, compared to 23.7 and 36.6 percent at home.
3. The road team won each of the first two meetings, with Boston picking up a 91-81 triumph in Detroit on Dec. 10 behind 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists from Horford.PREDICTION:
Celtics 106, Pistons 103
Stats and Records