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Game 4: Pistons at Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  December 30, 2011 09:27 AM

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This should be the one.

136155839__1325042999_6074.jpgYou could give the Celtics passes for an opening-day loss to the Knicks and a loss in Miami against the league's prohibitive favorite two days later. They were still losses, but good showings in those games gave Celtics fans some hope.

Wednesday's loss in New Orleans, however, was extremely disheartening. It's no secret the Celtics might not be world-beaters in back-to-back games this season, but losing by 21 points to a mediocre Hornets team without its best player doesn't really qualify as showing up. Paul Pierce's absence can't excuse that one. The Celtics need to play better.

A Comcast promo during Wednesday night's broadcast previewed tonight's game with the words, "I am not South Beach. I am Causeway St. I am home." The Celtics are indeed home tonight, but the big question is whether or not the location will make a difference in the team's play. It should help, and the opponent should help as well, though it can be debated whether or not the Pistons are a worse team than the Hornets team the Celtics lost to the other night.

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Celtics (0-3), Pistons (0-2)
Broadcast info: CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tom Heinsohn), WEEI 93.7 FM/850 AM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Jermaine O'Neal

Pistons:
PG: Rodney Stuckey
SG: Ben Gordon
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Jonas Jerebko
C: Greg Monroe

Storylines:

Pierce: The Celtics captain tweeted last night, "I'm close very very close very" after telling reporters on Wednesday that he would give them 24 hours notice on Twitter before his return. That mean's he's likely in tonight. Pierce's return would be a huge boost to a team that is desperate for scoring outside of Ray Allen. Pierce's return would also take Sasha Pavlovic out of the rotation.

Kevin Garnett: This should be an "on" night for Garnett with the day off and return home. Garnett has been dreadful in two out of three games this season, and there are legitimate concerns about him slowing down this season. There are legitimate concerns about the center position, but the Celtics may be able to get by without huge production in the middle. They won't be able to go very far without an effective Garnett.

Eye test: The Celtics passed the eye test in much of the first two games because they hung in with good teams and made the games close. How will they look tonight? The win is important at this point because they're desperate, but a close win against a bad team won't calm the nerves of many fans. Can the Celtics put their foot down?

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