Celtics-Pistons preview: Frustration building

Celtics-Pistons preview: Frustration building
April 5, 2014, 12:15 pm
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DETROIT — The goal this time of year is build as much momentum as possible in closing out the season.

The Boston Celtics are doing that, although a seven-game losing streak is not what they had in mind.

For those Celtics fans who find joy in every loss and the potential ping-pong ball it may add this lottery-bound club, there's a clear and unmistakable frustration that has infiltrated this locker room.

It's not the losing that's getting to them; but rather how the losses are beginning to pile up that's the bigger concern.

For the second time in as many games, Boston came out flat and were ultimately flat-lined by their opponent,.

"We're not pulling in one direction right now and you know that's got to be the responsibility of the head coach," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Stevens has maintained a level-headed, cool-as-they-come demeanor through what has been a challenging season for the first-year coach.

But on Friday, it was one of the rare moments when Stevens' frustration and anger with his team's play, was evident both to the media and earlier to his players in the locker room.

"He ripped us a little bit, more than usual," said Celtics Captain Rajon Rondo. "We deserved it."

And so after a pair of lackluster performances, no one has a clue as to what to expect from the Celtics as they take on a Detroit team that has lost 10 if its last 12 which includes a blowout defeat to Philadelphia that snapped the Sixers' 26-game losing streak.

And while there's ample evidence of various player breakdowns at both ends of the floor, Stevens reiterated that the disconnected nature of his team's play of late is on him.

"I don't think we've been a great detail team all year," Stevens said. "We can get a lot better in that area and we, just in the last two games I thought we were just even a little bit behind in that area. And again, that's the responsibility of everyone pulling in one direction, it's on me."

Here are more keys to tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  With Boston being as undermanned as we've seen them this season in the frontcourt because of injuries, look for the Pistons to try and establish their super-sized frontcourt of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, early and often.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jeff Green vs  Josh Smith

Green had a team-high 27 points when the Celtics beat Detroit at the TD Garden on March 9. The scoring from Green doesn't have to be great, but his impact does. He has to find ways to contribute when his shot is off or he's not being assertive in looking for his shot. Because we all know Josh Smith is going to get his shots, regardless of what Green does.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jerryd Bayless

He has been one of the Celtics' best players in the last week or so, showing the kind of consistency that has elluded him most of his playing career. In his last five  games, Bayless has averaged 15 points per game. For the season he's averaging 9.2 points per game.

STAT TO TRACK:   Although neither club has shot the ball well this season, don't be shocked if points come pretty easy for both teams. Limiting opponents shooting the ball has been a season-long issue for both squads, but it has been even more problematic lately. In the last five games, Boston and Detroit have been the NBA's two worst teams in terms of limiting opponents shooting from the field. In that span, the Pistons have given up a league-worst 51.9 percent shooting to opponents, with Boston right behind them, at 51.7.