Pistons' Bullock expected to return against Celtics

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
The Pistons have missed the 3-point shooting of Reggie Bullock, left. Bullock has missed the last five games with a sprained ankle.

Auburn Hills — Much to Pistons coach Dwane Casey’s dismay, it’s been a day-to-day deal with Reggie Bullock’s return from a sprained ankle.

Saturday looks to be the day.

After missing the last five games, Bullock looks to be ready to return against the Boston Celtics, bolstering the Pistons’ starting lineup, which has been in flux since Bullock suffered the sprain against Oklahoma City on Dec. 3.

“I went through practice today and felt good,” Bullock said after Friday’s practice. “I think I’m pretty close; it’s all about the trainers and my confidence to be able to go out there and help the team.”

The Pistons (13-13) have missed Bullock’s 3-point shooting, as they’ve had two of their worst outings this season from beyond the arc, hitting just 19 percent against the Thunder and 24 percent against the Bucks.

Langston Galloway and Bruce Brown had been starting in Bullock’s position but having the outside threat back in place will be a big help, as the Pistons look to end their six-game skid, which began with the Thunder game.

It’s the second sprained ankle for Bullock this season; the other caused him to miss two games. Having another sprain on the same ankle caused more pain this time around but it also caused concern with ensuring that it was completely healed before he returned.

That concern led to Bullock testing the ankle in shoot-around and pregame workouts to see if it was good enough to play on. When it wasn’t, the training staff took a cautious approach instead of trying to rush him back too soon.

“Both ankle sprains hurt a bit but with this one, because I did it twice, I need to recover and try to get it back all the way to 100 percent,” Bullock said. “I feel like I’m pretty much there. We’ll see how (Saturday’s) shoot-around goes and we’ll make a decision for (Saturday) night.”

Bullock said the first issues appeared against the Celtics in October but he tried to play through it, but it got worse after being reaggravated against the Thunder.   

“I tweaked it in the Boston game and tried to play on it and rolled it and sat out some games,” he said. “Against OKC, I stepped on (Jerami) Grant’s foot and rolled it all the way over. This one is pretty much worse.”

Bullock’s return could provide the first glimpse at the Pistons' two best-shooting wings on the court together. Luke Kennard has started the past two games and could be paired with Bullock.

Casey isn’t focused on that pairing but is just interested in the whole group playing well and establishing better habits.

More:Pistons' new, outside-the-box medical team being put to the test

Try again

The Pistons still are feeling the sting of squandering a 10-point lead in the final five minutes against the Hornets on Wednesday, a game that could have ended their losing streak. Instead, they’re left to pick up the pieces and try to break the string against one of the best teams in the East.

“Like I told the players, there’s nobody on this team that shouldn’t be teed off from the position we’re in right now,” Casey said. “It’s not the end of the world, but we’ve got to have a bad taste in our mouth to create a sense of urgency for a longer period of time.”

Casey has focused on creating winning habits for the entire team, which includes the blown lead and other games in which the Pistons have come close — but not close enough to get a victory.

Celtics at Pistons

Tip-off: 7 Saturday, Little Caesars Arena

TV/radio: FSD/950

Outlook: The Pistons (13-13) have lost six straight and dropped both meetings this season to the Celtics. Al Horford (knee) has missed the last three games and will remain out indefinitely.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard