Celtics-Pistons preview: Could be a second-half showdown

Celtics-Pistons preview: Could be a second-half showdown

BOSTON – Depending on how you want to look at it, the Boston Celtics have been a team that cruises in the first half and crushes opponents in the second, or one who plays at its best when the game matters most.

Regardless, Boston (18-3) has been a better team in the second half of games this season.

Keeping along those lines won’t be easy tonight when they host a Detroit Pistons team that has played well, particularly in the second half of games … just like Boston.

In Boston’s 108-98 win over Indiana on Saturday, the Celtics were down 54-45 at the half only to bounce back with a dominant third quarter by outscoring the Pacers 37-16.

“We were kind of moving in mud there for two and a half quarters,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens following the win over Indiana. “Some shots went our way, which was good. We were fortunate to pull it out because we weren’t great the first two and a half quarters. To our guys credit, they kind of stuck with it and pulled together.”

That has been among the many strengths of this Celtics team, one that ranks among the league leaders in several categories in the second half of games.

Offensively, the Celtics are draining 5.9 three-pointers in the second half which ranks seventh in the NBA. In addition, they are shooting 39.2 percent (4th) from 3-point range as well as 13.7 free throw attempts (6th) which speaks to how in the second half of games, Boston has found success not only from deep but also do a good job of attacking defenses and getting to the free throw line which has been critical to them having a second-half offensive rating of 112.2 which ranks second in the league.

Defensively, the Celtics have been strong in the third and fourth quarters as well.

Their defensive rating is 95.6 which is tops in the NBA. They have also been extremely stingy when it comes to giving up points off turnovers (6.0, tops in the NBA), second-chance points (5.1, 3rd in the NBA) and fast-break points (3.2, 3rd).

But in the Pistons (12-7), owners of the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics will face a team which has been strong defensively in the second half of games this season.

Detroit (12-7) has a defensive rating (100.5) in the second half of games which ranks seventh in the NBA. The Pistons also rank in the top 10 in fewest points allowed off turnovers (7.8, 10th); second-chance points (4.9, 2nd) and points in the paint (19.7, 7th) in the second half.

While Detroit’s second-half defense is legit, you can bet the Celtics won’t be giving it too much thought heading into tonight’s game.

More than anything else, they will focus on what they need to do to extend their new winning streak to three in a row even if that means rallying from behind which is something that we’ve seen thus far this season, they’re really good at.


Optimism that Kyrie will be back for playoffs

Optimism that Kyrie will be back for playoffs

Kyrie Irving underwent a left knee procedure on Saturday that will keep the five-time All-Star guard out for at least the start of the playoffs.

The Celtics indicated that Irving will be out for 3-6 weeks.

According to the Celtics, the procedure was to remove a tension wire in his left knee. The wire was originally placed there as part of the surgical repair of the fractured patella injury Irving suffered in the 2015 NBA Finals when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Removing the wire is expected to lessen the irritation it was causing in Irving’s left patellar tendon.

The fractured patella injury from in 2015 has fully healed and, according to the Celtics, Irving’s knee has been found to be “completely structurally sound.”

The timetable for Irving's return is roughly the same as that of Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who last week had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb. 

Irving, who turned 26 on Friday, finishes his first regular season with Boston appearing in 60 games while averaging 24.4 points per game on a career-best 49.1 percent shooting from the field.


Report: Celtics to sign Kilpatrick to 10-day contract

AP Photo

Report: Celtics to sign Kilpatrick to 10-day contract

The depleted Celtics will sign guard Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract, according to The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy.

Kilpatrick, 28, 6-4, 210 pounds, who played at the University of Cincinnati, most recently played for the Clippers this season and has spent time with the Bucks and Brooklyn Nets the past two seasons. 

With their spate of injuries lately, including Kyrie Irving undergoing a procedure on his knee Saturday, the Celtics have been granted a "hardship roster exemption" by the NBA.