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.

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford was destined to play in tonight’s game between Boston and Houston.
 
But for which team?
 
That was the question the four-time All-Star pondered this summer when he narrowed his list of suitors outside of Atlanta to Boston, Houston and Washington, in that order.
 
“I really considered coming here,” Horford told reporters on Monday. “But them and Boston and Washington. (Houston) and Boston were probably the two teams I was really, really looking at. Just a lot to consider.”

When you look at how seamless Horford has fit in with the Celtics and how well the Rockets (13-7) have played this season, you get the feeling that Horford would have found success individually and for whichever team he chose.
 
“At the end of the day, I just felt I was better off being here in Boston,” Horford said.
 
Rockets All-Star James Harden was among the party Houston sent to try and woo Horford to the Rockets.

“I thought we had a chance,” Harden said. “I thought we had a real good chance, but obviously it didn’t work out. Which is fine.”
 
Indeed, the Rockets have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA this season in large part to Harden moving to the point guard position full-time.
 
Not only is he once again ranked among the NBA’s top scorers at 28.3 points which ranks fourth in the NBA, but he’s also dishing out a league-high 11.8 assists per game.
 
“They made it pretty clear in the offseason that he was going to be the point guard,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “He’s got the ball all the time. He had the ball a lot before, but certainly now with their spacing and his ability to make the play himself or the right read to the big rolling or to the many good shooters around, it’s a perfect setup for him and his skillset.”
 
The ability to draw defenders and create space for those around him is one of the many reasons why the Rockets felt Horford would have been an ideal fit for their system.
 
But the same argument can be made for the Celtics who unlike the Rockets, at least attempt to play defense at a high level.
 
Boston began the season ranked among the worst defenses in the NBA, but are currently up to 18th with a defensive rating of 105.0. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ defense ranks 27th in the league with a 107.2 defensive rating.