Weekly Preview: Welcome back, Paul Pierce

Who: Detroit Pistons
When: Monday
Where: TD Garden
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub

Breakdown: After having four games in five nights last week, Boston opens a four games in six nights stretch with this one against the Pistons but at least all four games are at home and they don’t have to travel anywhere. The Pistons are the only team in the Eastern Conference that’s currently allowing under 102 PPG and the Celtics know just how great this team can defend after being held to just 94 points in their first meeting with each other. Detroit comes into this game fairly well rested – having played just two games over the last seven days – but it doesn’t seem to be helping them as they lost to the Miami Heat on Saturday while coming off a four day break. This is a team with size that might beat Boston on the boards with their size and they might keep it close throughout because of their ability to defend, but you just have to feel like the better team is wearing green and will pull through on this one.

Prediction: Celtics win 104-97


Who: Toronto Raptors
When: Wednesday
Where: TD Garden
TV: CSN New England
Radio: 100.7 WZLX

Breakdown: Toronto is really struggling right now and it’s allowed the Celtics to pull into second place in the Eastern Conference despite suffering a three game losing streak recently. The Raptors have lost six of their last seven – including home games against the Magic and Suns – and something just doesn’t seem quite right for the team up north. It should make anybody worry about how they will be long term because everybody goes through some rough times during the course of a season, but it would be nice to see Boston take advantage of them while they’re down. But the bigger issue is that it still appears that Avery Bradley will be out with his lingering Achilles injury and the Celtics have really struggled defending strong two guard backcourts without their best defensive player in the lineup, as shown by recent losses to the Wall/Beal tandem in Washington and the Lillard/McCollumn duo in Portland. The Raptors have Lowery and DeRozan to help take over a game like this and they could come in pretty motivated to turn things around against the team that recently passed them.

Prediction: Celtics lose 119-110


Who: Los Angeles Lakers
When: Friday
Where: TD Garden
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub

Breakdown: It’s Hollywood meets Boston part one as the Clippers will be in town after this to finish off the week right after this one, and an easy one this should be for the Celtics. It wasn’t too long ago that Luke Walton seemed like a savior for the Lakers as they started 6-4 – putting a couple impressive wins on their resume – but now the team has fallen back to expectations and it wasn’t a graceful fall. This team has been awful in recent weeks as they’ve won just once over their last nine games and some of the losses have been complete embarrassments, including a 122-74 beating at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. A little side battle to keep your eye on could be Jaylen Brown vs. Brandon Ingram, the second and third picks from this past draft. Ingram is playing close to 30 minutes per game this year because the Lakers really have no batter options – so his number look far better at first glance – but in shorter minutes Brown has been the far more efficient player and he’s been great the last two times out when extending his minutes as a starter. If he gets to start again because Boston is still shorthanded, that could be fun to watch out for.

Prediction: Celtics win 114-97


Who: Los Angeles Clippers
When: Sunday
Where: TD Garden
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub

Breakdown: This will be the Celtics first game on network television since Doc Rivers departed and…oh…look at the other team’s bench…it’s Doc Rivers, looks like Brad Stevens still isn’t good enough for network TV on his own yet. All jokes aside, this game was hand picked to be shown on ABC because it’s what we all assume is Paul Pierce’s final game at the Fleet Center and it’s also the only game on the schedule this Sunday that involves two winning teams. Playing the Clippers right now is a golden opportunity because they’re struggling to deal with a number of injuries and the window is wide open to knock them off and pick up what is a good win on paper. A struggling, injury riddled, west coast team playing at 2:00 in Boston should be open season and it would actually be a pretty bad loss if the Clippers wound up stealing this one. The Paul Pierce thing will make this game special though and it’s probably the must see game of the week if you’re a real fan.

Prediction: Celtics win 109-102


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