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Pistons-Celtics Preview

Jan 6, 2016 - 2:31 AM The first two games between the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics resulted in entertaining duels at point guard between Reggie Jackson and Isaiah Thomas.

Now the Pistons have another dangerous guard to throw into the equation.

Brandon Jennings has gradually been getting up to speed for the Pistons, who try to end a three-game road slide Wednesday night against a Celtics team struggling at home.

This contest features two of the leaders in drives per game, with Jackson averaging an NBA-best 12.0 and Thomas fourth at 11.3.

These teams split two meetings last month, with Detroit (19-16) winning 119-116 on Dec. 16 despite Boston holding a 28-16 edge in drives. Thomas had a team-high 15 and scored a season-best 38 while Jackson had seven drives and scored 23.

The Celtics (19-15) won 99-93 on Dec. 26 even though the Pistons held a 24-20 edge in drives, with Jackson recording 12 and Thomas 10.

Perhaps the production of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been more critical to the outcome. He scored a season-high 31 in the Pistons' win but was held to six in their defeat.

Boston is concerned about defending Jackson and Caldwell-Pope.

"Those guys off the pick-and-roll, Reggie Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, all those guys making plays," Celtics center Kelly Olynyk said. "You've got to make sure that you pull in and help each other."

Slowing down those players could be even more difficult because Boston guard Avery Bradley is expected to miss a second straight game with a left hip contusion. The other issue is that Jennings is back and rounding into form.

The veteran guard has played four times since returning from rupturing his left Achilles last January. He had season highs of 17 points and six assists in 18 minutes in Monday's 115-89 rout of Orlando.

''He continuously pushed the pace, which might be something that most people probably wouldn't look for with that injury that he came off of,'' Jackson said. ''He really was a floor general out there.''

Coach Stan Van Gundy now says he's working with the idea of playing Jackson and Jennings together at times.

Jackson is 4-0 in his career at Boston, a city he is familiar with from his career at Boston College.

The Celtics are known for pushing the pace, averaging 100.8 possessions per 48 minutes to lead the Eastern Conference.

Detroit's Andre Drummond posted his league-best 30th double-double Monday with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He is averaging 19.0 and 17.1 over a nine-game streak of double-doubles against Boston.

"Obviously you just have to be alert to guys of that size and that ability to block shots and try to move them around as much as you can, it's easier said than done," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "And he poses a huge problem on the other end obviously with his deep post-ups and offensive rebounding."

Boston won 103-94 at Brooklyn on Monday behind Jae Crowder's 25 points and Thomas' 19.

Now the Celtics hope to avoid a second three-game home slide. They have dropped five of seven in Boston while Detroit has lost 11 of 15 on the road.