Detroit (15-26) at Boston (31-9)

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO, STATS Writer Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 Tipoff: 7:30 pm EST Wed Jan 19, 2011

The last time the Boston Celtics met the Detroit Pistons, Kevin Garnett(notes) was lost for nearly three weeks.

He’s back now.

Garnett looks to build on his impressive return and help the Celtics to a fourth straight win Wednesday night against the Pistons.

Boston (31-9) is entering the midway point of its schedule atop the Eastern Conference, a status that should be easier to continue with Garnett back on the court.

The 13-time All-Star suffered an injury to his right leg on a dunk in the first quarter of a 104-92 loss at Detroit (15-26) on Dec. 29. The Celtics won six of nine without him, but his teammates still missed his physical presence and leadership.

“We look like a totally different team out there,” forward Paul Pierce(notes) said. “You can’t replace what Kevin gives to a ballclub. … He raises everyone’s play when he’s on the court.”

Garnett made a big difference in his return to the court Monday, scoring 19 points while pulling down eight rebounds and making a key steal in the final seconds to secure a 109-106 win over Orlando.

“These last two weeks have been dark days for me. Being hurt is not one of my favorite things,” said Garnett, scoring 15.1 points per game with a team-leading 9.5 rebounds.

He’s averaging 21.5 points on 60.7 percent shooting and 7.5 boards in his last four home games against the Pistons.

With Garnett healthy, Boston looks to continue its dominance at TD Garden. The team is among the league’s best at home this season, going 19-3 and has won three in a row there since opening this six-game homestand with a 108-102 loss to Houston on Jan. 10.

The Celtics should benefit from having Rajon Rondo(notes) on the court for this meeting with the Pistons after he sat out the most recent one with an ankle injury.

Rondo leads the league with 13.4 assists per game, and dished out 17 in a 109-86 win at Detroit on Nov. 2. He’s averaging 12.7 points and 13.0 assists in his last three games.

The Pistons are looking for their first four-game winning streak since a five-game run Dec. 4-12, 2009.

Lineup changes appear to be sparking the current run, which continued with Monday’s 103-89 victory over Dallas.

“I think that foundation has finally been set - guys knowing their role in the starting group, guys know their role coming off the bench and as you see, it’s just clicking right now,” swingman Tracy McGrady(notes) said. “That’s something we’ve been searching for, for quite some time and I think we finally found it.”

McGrady and rookie Greg Monroe(notes) have started the last four games after being used mostly off the bench. McGrady is scoring 11.5 points per contest while playing the point over the last four games, and Monroe has been used at center and is averaging 13.3 points and 8.5 rebounds.

McGrady had 21 points against the Celtics last month.

It’s unclear if Richard Hamilton(notes) will play after going unused on the bench for four games, while reports of a potential trade circulate. The swingman is averaging 21.0 points over the last nine visits to Boston.

The Celtics have won eight of 11 against the Pistons.

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Wednesday, Jan 19