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Preview: Jerebko, Datome return to Palace with new roles and playoff hopes

What: Detroit Pistons vs. Boston Celtics

When: 7:00 p.m. (ESPN, FSD)

Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills

What to Watch For: 

While both teams remain technically alive in the playoff race, it’s the Celtics who find themselves in a more manageable position, standing a half game up on the Miami Heat for the eighth and final playoff position. As such, tonight’s game holds serious implications.

Boston has split both matchups with the Pistons (30-47) this season, with each game going an extra session. Detroit is 8-3 in their last 11 games against the Celtics.

Boston will attempt to snap a six-game road losing streak against the Pistons, who are striving to extend their home winning streak to six for the first time in more than seven years.

The Celtics (35-42) have climbed back into eighth place by winning three of four, including Saturday’s wild 117-116 overtime victory at Toronto.

Boston’s four consecutive road victories are keeping them clinging to the eighth spot, holding off Indiana, Miami and Charlotte for the last postseason spot. After tonight’s game against the Pistons, the Celtics play the Cleveland twice, Toronto once, and close out their regular season in Milwaukee. A tough schedule to say the least, which marks tonight as the biggest game of the Celtics’ season thus far.

The Pistons have won five straight and 15 of 23 at home after opening with an awful 2-13 record in their first 15 games at the Palace.

Detroit was limited to an average of 80.0 points on a winless two-game trip before storming back to beat the Heat 99-98 on Saturday.

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Against the Heat, Reggie Jackson made the game-winning layup with five seconds left as the Pistons closed the game on a 14-2 run. Jackson scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. He’s been on fire at home averaging 23.2 points, dishing out 11.5 assists and shooting 54.0 percent over his last six games at the Palace. He had 17 points, 11 assists, and 9 rebounds in a 105-97 victory on March 22 in Boston.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 27 points in that March 22 contest while big man Andre Drummond added 18 points and 22 rebounds. Drummond has been an absolute beast against the Celtics, averaging 18.5 points and 17.7 boards in his last six games in the series.

As a final note, be on a look out for former Pistons Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome, who are both seeing consistent minutes in the Celtics rotation and are making their first appearances at the Palace as members of the Celtics.

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