Boston Celtics

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.

Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

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Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

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"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."

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