Celtics-Pistons preview: Set up for success

Celtics-Pistons preview: Set up for success
April 3, 2013, 9:45 am
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BOSTON -- Health trumps everything else this time of year for the Celtics. But the C's still wouldn't mind moving up from their current No. 7 playoff seed, something that they will have a legitimate shot to do in their final homestand of the season.

Not only will the Celtics be at home, but the bulk of the opponents they face rank among the NBA's worst teams.

"But that's not always good for us," C's guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com. "We sometimes play our worst basketball against teams that if we just played our usual game, we would beat them."

That's why the Celtics know all too well that these upcoming games cannot be overlooked or taken lightly.

Boston's next three opponents -- Detroit, Cleveland and Washington -- have a combined record of 75-148. The last of Boston's four straight games at the TD Garden will be against Brooklyn, currently the No. 2 team in the Atlantic Division with a 42-31 record.

Despite the former three teams having their problems this year, they have a combined 4-3 record against the Celtics.

With the Celtics at home, having a packed crowd to cheer them on will certainly be a factor in the outcome when they play the Pistons tonight.

Here are some other factors to weigh as these two teams meet for the final time this season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  Rebounding will be an even bigger challenge for the Celtics than usual with 6-foot-11 Andre Drummond in the Pistons starting lineup instead of 6-foot-7 Jason Maxiell who is out following season-ending surgery for a detached retina.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Jose Calderon. Bradley is coming off one of his best games in  weeks, tallying 19 points in Monday night's loss to Minnesota. Although the Pistons' record leaves a lot to be desired, Calderon has an assists-to-turnover ratio of 4.18 which is tops in the NBA this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry is starting to show signs of heating up, a good sign for a player who in many ways is still trying to establish his niche with this team. He's averaging 10.3 points this season, but has stepped his scoring up lately with a 15.3 points per game average in his last three games.

STAT TO TRACK: Limiting Detroit's bench scoring has to become a priority tonight. The Pistons' bench scoring ranks in the top 10 for the season, and they have been even more explosive in the last 10 games with a 36.1 points off the bench average that ranks fifth in the league. Not only does missing Paul Pierce rob the Celtics of one of their best players, but it also weakens their second unit because a player they pegged as a backup (Jeff Green, among others) is now rolling with the first group.