The Celtics had a rough go of it Sunday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena, letting a tie game in the third quarter slip away and losing a lopsided one in the fourth, a 104-93 final. The Celtics have no time to regroup, either. On Monday night, they return home to face a Pistons team that's coming off a whomping of their own at the hands of an Eastern Conference power — Detroit lost 112-99 in Atlanta on Saturday.
The Celtics have lost three of their last four, and the Pistons are 2-8 in their last 10 games. But this time, one of them has to win.
When and Where
Monday, March 15, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Celtics (41-24, first place in Atlantic Division, fourth place in Eastern Conference)
Pistons (23-43, 4th place in Central Division, 10th place in Eastern Conference)
Head to Head
This one's for the season series. The teams have played twice in Detroit already, with the home team winning one in February and the C's getting revenge earlier this March. This is the rubber match, and it's the Pistons' only visit to the TD Garden this season. The Celtics are 6-3 against Detroit over the last three seasons.
The Pistons were already struggling enough before 10 days ago, when Rodney Stuckey collapsed during a loss to the Cavaliers and John Kuester was suddenly without his best player. The Pistons have already been through a lot over the past year, losing Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace. Now being without Stuckey just adds insult to injury — the Pistons are definitely in rebuilding mode, but they don't have much talent to build around at the moment. This season is sadly a lost cause in Detroit.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Will Bynum
Shooting guard: Richard Hamilton
Small forward: Tayshaun Prince
Power forward: Jonas Jerebko
Center: Ben Wallace
The Celtics are 19-12 at home and 22-12 on the road. They're the only winning team in the NBA with a better record away than home.
They have the fewest offensive rebounds in the league with 549.
Rajon Rondo had eight rebounds on Sunday, his highest single-game total this month. The last time he pulled down eight boards was in a Feb. 7 loss to the Orlando Magic at home.
Kendrick Perkins had six points against the Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon. He has been held to single digits in eight of his last 10 games.
Kevin Garnett shot 8-for-8 from the free-throw line Sunday. He has made 37 of his last 41 attempts and is shooting 82.5 percent for the season.
Ray Allen has had his highest monthly field-goal percentage (54.6 percent) but his lowest scoring average (13.6 points per game) in March.
Paul Pierce has averaged 23.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his career against the Pistons.
The Pistons are 7-25 on the road. Only the Nets, Warriors and Timberwolves have fewer road wins.
They shoot 44.3 percent from the field as a team. Only the Nets, Bucks and Pacers are worse in that category.
Richard Hamilton is the Pistons' leading scorer, averaging 18.7 points per game.
Ben Wallace has 220 offensive rebounds, fifth-most in the NBA.
Tayshaun Prince is shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range, best on the Pistons.
Will Bynum had 16 points in the Pistons' loss Saturday to the Hawks, his highest single-game output in the 2010 calendar year.
Jonas Jerebko is averaging 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in his rookie season.
Black and Blue
No injury updates to report on the Celtics, who are having by far their best month of the season health-wise.
Rodney Stuckey collapsed during a game against the Cavaliers on March 5. He has not played since. The team is calling him day-to-day, but he hasn't yet returned to practice.
Jonas Jerebko returned from his sore left shoulder on Saturday against Atlanta.
Ben Wallace missed Saturday with a strained right knee. His return Monday is questionable.
Chris Wilcox is out indefinitely due to back soreness.
This Date in Celtics History
In 2002, the Celtics come back from a 97-89 deficit with 1:54 to play against the Vancouver Grizzlies, going on a 14-0 run and winning by a 103-97 final. Kenny Anderson has a clutch steal in the final seconds and Antoine Walker makes two free throws to ice the win. Walker finished with 38 points on 13-of-33 shooting.
"I think we?re close. I think we?re really close. But we can say that all we want. You?ve got to prove it at some point. Listen, we had a chance to win this game, but we didn?t. It was frustrating for me, because you can see in a lot of ways how close we are to breaking out and to being really good."
–Doc Rivers, after Sunday's loss in Cleveland, on the talent gap between the Cavs and Celtics
The Celtics were no match for LeBron James and the Cavs.
Boston struggled against Anderson Varejao.
Maybe they're just bored. LeBron thinks so.
Atlanta beat Detroit handily on Saturday.
Still no Rodney Stuckey for the Pistons.
Could the Pistons move to downtown Detroit?
Steve Nash played his 1,000th game.
Dwyane Wade dropped 38 on the Sixers.
Nicolas Batum helped the Blazers to their fourth straight win.
The Pistons were already a pretty tasty cupcake on the Celtics' schedule before Rodney Stuckey went down. Now, they're even less of a threat. Just as the Celtics were happy to see the Pacers on Friday night after an ugly blowout loss to Memphis last Wednesday, the Pistons are another soft opponent that should help the Celtics pick up a nice bounce-back win. As long as the C's stay focused and get a steady contribution from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen offensively, they should be fine. The Garden crowd should enjoy this one.