Teams at opposite ends of the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings will face each other Wednesday night when the Detroit Pistons visit the Boston Celtics in the final game before the All-Star break for both teams.
The Celtics are at the top of the standings, one-half game ahead of Milwaukee following Tuesday night’s 131-125 overtime loss to the Bucks. The Pistons are at the bottom of the conference and enter Wednesday’s matchup one-half game behind Charlotte.
Boston’s four-game winning streak ended with the loss at Milwaukee. Jayson Tatum (illness) didn’t make the trip to Milwaukee and Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said Tatum is unlikely to play against the Pistons.
Tatum was one of four Boston starters who didn’t suit up against Milwaukee. The Celtics were also missing Jaylen Brown (facial fracture), Marcus Smart (ankle) and Al Horford (knee). Boston’s starting lineup was Derrick White, Sam Hauser, Mike Muscala, Grant Williams and Blake Griffin.
White led the Celtics with 27 points and 12 assists. Malcolm Brogdon came off the bench to score 26, and Williams finished with 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Tatum (30.5 ppg) and Brown (26.5 ppg) are Boston’s leading scorers. Tatum is also the team’s top rebounder (8.6).
“Detailed, focused effort,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said following Tuesday night’s loss. “Did all the right things to win. They made a couple more plays than we did down the stretch. It was two great teams playing against each other, regardless of who’s in, who’s out. We played hard. Credit to our guys.”
Detroit, which acquired center James Wiseman from Golden State last week, is coming off Sunday’s 119-118 road loss to Toronto. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 33 points in the loss. Alec Burks had 21 while Hamidou Diallo and Jaden Ivey each finished with 18. Bogdanovic leads the team in scoring (21.7 ppg).
Detroit committed 16 turnovers in the loss.
“We’ve just got to be smarter with the ball, stronger with the ball,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “A lot of our turnovers were self-inflicted — throwing it to nobody, throwing it to air.”
The Pistons, who beat San Antonio in double overtime Friday, haven’t won back-to-back games since they beat Denver and Utah on Nov. 22-23.
Detroit center Jalen Duren injured his right ankle in the second quarter of the loss to Toronto, but started the second half and finished the game with six points in 21 minutes. The rookie scored a career-high 30 points in Friday’s win against San Antonio. He is also averaging a team-high 8.8 rebounds per game.
“He turned it pretty good,” Casey said of Duren’s ankle. “Just trying to go up and down the floor and when they were attacking the rim he just couldn’t pivot and move. Hopefully it’s not something that’s long-lasting.”
Boston beat Detroit in each of the three previous meetings this season and would complete the season sweep with a win.
–Field Level Media