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Game 76: Celtics vs. Pistons

4/3/2011

at TD Garden, 6 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)

PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH

  • Clean the Glass: In their 88-83 loss to the Hawks on Friday, the Celtics were outrebounded 52-38 overall, and faced a hefty 14-3 deficit in offensive rebounds, which ultimately deterred their late comeback effort in the fourth quarter. While the Pistons might not be an elite rebounding team, the Celtics need to do a better job of rebounding the ball, plain and simple. This is one area where injured big men like Shaquille O'Neal, Troy Murphy, and Nenad Krstic can help in, which is why it's crucial that they return as quickly as possible with the regular season winding down.

  • Rivalry Renewed: Pistons guard Richard Hamilton and head coach John Kuester might never fully see eye-to-eye, but at least Hamilton is once again a part of Detroit's everyday lineup. With the exception of Detroit's 99-95 victory over the Knicks on March 18, Hamilton played in every game last month, and averaged 16.7 points on 44.8 percent shooting. Tonight should mark the return of his always exciting head-to-head battle with fellow University of Connecticut alum, Ray Allen. Maybe a matchup like this is just what Allen needs to break out of his recent shooting slump. In the Pistons' 101-96 loss to the Bulls on Friday, Hamilton poured in 30 points on 9-of-14 shooting.

  • It's How You Finish: Over the course of their last six games (a stretch Boston boasts a 2-4 record in), the C's have been outscored in the fourth quarter, 152-113. Boston has averaged just 18.3 points in those fourth quarters, while their opponents have registered 25.3 points, which has to make coach Doc Rivers' skin crawl. The Celtics managed to score 30 fourth quarter points in their win over the spurs on Thursday, but still gave up 27 points. Meanwhile, against Atlanta on Friday, Boston was outscored 26-15 in the final frame, as the Hawks completed their comeback from a 12-point third quarter deficit.

GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)

The Pistons are one defeat away from their first consecutive 50-loss campaigns since 1993-94 and '94-95. Detroit has dropped five of six overall after Friday's 101-96 home loss to the Bulls.

Coach John Kuester decided to rest Tracy McGrady due to tired legs and put Will Bynum in the lineup after Rodney Stuckey chose to come off the bench.

"I thought our guys really competed tonight," Kuester said. "I thought they worked hard and they gave us everything they had."

The Pistons made more than half their shots for the third straight game, finishing at 52.0 percent.

Detroit, though, has had at least 20 turnovers every time in that stretch, with 21 on Friday. That hasn't been a major problem for most of the season since the Pistons lead the Eastern Conference in that department with 12.9 per game.

"When you turn the ball over 20 times, that's what kills you," Kuester said. "I thought our guys were really trying hard."

Read the full preview HERE.