OFFSEASON

C's-Pistons preview: Turnovers are points of contention for Celts

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C's-Pistons preview: Turnovers are points of contention for Celts

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. Forcing the Chicago Bulls into turning the ball over 21 times on Friday was considered a pretty good night for the Boston Celtics.

But it meant very little . . . literally. Look just a tad bit deeper into the numbers, and you'll see that Chicago's mistakes only netted the C's seven points. Seven points!

Doing a better job of making a team pay for its mistakes will be important for the C's tonight against a Detroit Pistons team that, on paper at least, seems to be just what the Celtics need right now.

Detroit (14-25) comes in ranked 24th in turnovers, with 15.2 per game. According to teamrankings.com, 14.2 percent of the Pistons' plays this season result in a turnover, which puts them 27th in the league.

Boston (20-19) has lost two in a row and its inability to convert opponent turnovers into points has been part of the problem.

In the C's last two games, they have forced a total of 39 turnovers but have only converted those mistakes into 25 points.

"You should score at least one point per turnover," said coach Doc Rivers. "And on a good night, it would be nice to have more."

The C's are certainly looking for a good night -- and a win -- against a Detroit team that has won its last three matchups against Boston, including a 20-point thumping of the Celtics at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 18.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Celtics are a bon- fide jump-shooting team, but they may not have much of a choice against Detroit. In addition to being one of the league's best rebounding teams, the Pistons are also one of the NBA's best at blocking shots. Their 5.7 blocks per game ranks ninth in the league this season.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jared Sullinger vs. Andre Drummond: While there's a lot more star power than these two on display, both have been coming on strong of late for their respective teams, to the point where one has to legitimately question whether they have earned the right to start. Look for these two Rookie of the Year candidates to be difference-makers off the bench.

PLAYER TO WATCH: With the Celtics coming off back-to-back losses, don't be surprised to see Paul Pierce have a huge game. He's averaging a team-best 19.3 points per game this season, but has averaged just 12.5 points in Boston's last two games -- both losses.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston's second unit has to step up tonight, and it'll have to do it against a Detroit team whose backups rank among the league's best in terms of scoring. According to Hoopsstats.com, Detroit's second unit ranks ninth in the league in scoring (37 points per game) while the C's backup bunch comes in at No. 18, with a 31.3 points-per-game average.

OFFSEASON

Celtics are anything but "a middle of the road team"

Celtics are anything but "a middle of the road team"

Charles Barkley said Friday that the Boston Celtics are a "middle of the road team in no man's land." Kevin O'Connor joined Greg Dickerson on Sports Tonight and explained just how foolish of a statement that is.

Make sure you watch the video above, but here are some of the key stats O'Connor mentions regarding the state of the Celtics.

Competitive teams rarely select at the top of the draft, but the Celtics have already done it before and could again in 2017 and 2018. Over the last 40 years, only 10 teams have won at least 45 games and used a top five pick in the draft. Here’s the list:

PLAYER TEAM WINS YEAR PICK
Greg Ballard Washington 48 1977 4
Mychal Thompson Portland 58 1978 1
Magic Johnson LA Lakers 47 1979 1
Kevin McHale Boston 61 1980 3
James Worthy LA Lakers 57 1982 1
Charles Barkley Philadelphia 52 1984 5
Sam Bowie Portland 48 1984 2
Len Bias Boston 67 1986 2
Darko Milicic Detroit 50 2003 2
Jaylen Brown Boston 48 2016 3

Two of those teams won a single championship (Washington and Detroit). Two became dynasties (Boston and the Lakers). Four of the players are Hall of Famers (Johnson, McHale, Worthy, Barkley). You’ll also find Jaylen Brown, who could be a cornerstone even if we don’t know it yet.

If they play their cards right and the Nets struggle as much as everyone expects them to, they’ll be right back in the conversation for another star next season. Due to their tremendous flexibility, that could happen through the draft, the trade market, or free agency.

For more on this topic, click here.

OFFSEASON

Carroll: Crowder doesn't understand what it takes to win in playoffs

Carroll: Crowder doesn't understand what it takes to win in playoffs

Celtics forward Jae Crowder recently said, “Toronto is not a team we’re worried about,” and Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll thinks that's a silly comment to make.

“It’s a comment from a person who hasn’t really been in the playoffs that much. That’s how I reacted to that type of comment. When you haven’t been on that level and you don’t understand what it takes to get to that level. Myself going to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, I understand what it takes,” Carroll said on SportsNet.ca. “It’s a comment from a guy who hasn’t been on that level, who hasn’t played on that level. It sounds like a young comment.”

The Raptors won 56 games last season and went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling in six games to the Cavaliers, so Carroll is right that he’s speaking from experience.

But you can understand the confidence Crowder has. After winning 48 games last season, the Celtics just landed Al Horford, and they have repeatedly said they’re not done making moves. So perhaps their roster will look even better on Opening Night than it does right now.

Carroll doesn’t care about that though.

“We’ll let Jae Crowder do all the talking,” Carroll said. “We’ll just fly under the radar and do what we’re supposed to do.”

The Celtics went 1-3 versus the Raptors last season. They better hope they perform better next season, or Carroll might be the one talking.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics 'won't give up much' for Okafor

Report: Celtics 'won't give up much' for Okafor

Just recently, CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely laid out a compelling case why the Celtics are far more likely to trade for Jahlil Okafor than make a blockbuster for Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin.

But, apparently, they're not willing to give up a whole lot to get him.

According to Keith Pompay of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Celtics have concerns about Okafor's off-court problems, including two incidents in Boston, and "will not give up much" to get him:

"[The Celtics] have concerns about his playing in the city after being involved in two street fights there in the early hours of Thanksgiving morning. Nor do they like the fact that the center saw a gun pointed at his head in Old City and that he was stopped for going 108 mph over the Ben Franklin Bridge."

Pompay reports the Sixers "are determined to receive equal value in any trade," which -- if the Celts actually are hesitant to bring Okafor on board -- would seem to make Okafor-to-Boston unlikely. Especially since, in the words of NBC's Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin, "Okafor would fit with the Celtics -- the guy can score inside and rebound, valuable NBA skills -- but he’s not the game-changer they need. He’s okay. He’s not the answer."

Or perhaps the two sides using the media to lower/raise the price tag.

Stay tuned.