Detroit (14-13): 113– Boston (18-11): 104
Kyrie Irving: 26 PTS 8 REB 4 AST 3 STL
Marcus Smart: 21 PTS 8 REB 3 AST 3 STL
Jayson Tatum: 17 PTS 8 REB 2 AST 1 STL/BLK
Blake Griffin: 27 PTS 8 REB 6 AST 1 STL
Andre Drummond: 19 PTS 20 REB 1 AST 3 STL 5 BLK
Reggie Bullock: 15 PTS 3 REB 1 AST
This game was an example of when the Celtics shoot poorly for an entire game. Disclaimer: it didn’t go well. It was the second night of a back to back, a road game, and was facing a team who had lost some games in a row and needed to get back on track. While the Celtics were throwing bricks up seemingly every time they shot the ball, the Pistons took advantage. Getting monster games out of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, the two were able to pound the ball inside and got their share of easy buckets and free throws out of it. They were a combined 14-30 from the floor as well as a combined 17-22 from the free throw stripe. Their offense is very odd as everything goes through Griffin and they try to force the issue inside nearly every possession. For a team that shoots 32.2% from downtown (29th in the league) it makes sense why they’d go for this type of style. They were rewarded with 35 free throws and constantly put the Celtics in tough situations as their big made posed a lot of issues.
While Detroit made an effort to get it inside, the Celtics jacked up a lot of threes, and not many found the bottom of the bucket (9-33 from downtown). Morris, Tatum, Hayward, Brown, and Rozier all went a combined 0-17 from three-point land. Even more puzzling was the fact that Marcus Smart went 5-7 from that range and was one of the most reliable Celtics on offense in this one. Kyrie led the team in scoring but at an 11-25 clip for the night he wasn’t very efficient.
Another notable discrepancy was in terms of assist numbers as the Pistons edged the Celtics in that category 25-19. For a team who averages 25.1 dimes per night, last night was concerning. During this stretch of 9 games (last night and the winning streak) the Celtics have averaged 27 assists per night and it’s clear that when they’re moving the ball effectively, they’re at their best. It could’ve been a product of poor shot making but even in games this year where we’ve seen the Celtics shoot at a low clip, they’ve usually still compiled a lot of assists.
From my point of view, the Celtics seemed tired. While it isn’t an excuse, they looked to be missing legs in their jump shot’s and looked a step slow. Brad talked about how this would be a challenge for them. Detroit is a tough team to face on the second night of a back to back and even more deadly at home (10-6 at home this season). We saw why he thought this would be a challenge first hand as the Pistons had their way with the Celtics and even saw their lead balloon to as much as 16 early on in the fourth. Every time it seemed like the Celtics would go on a run late, Detroit responded. All in all, a frustrating defeat to watch as Detroit kept forcing their way to the basket over and over again. In the end, the Celtics didn’t have enough steam to keep up and suffered their first defeat in their last 9 games by a score of 113-104
Player of the Game: Blake Griffin
Blake has been having a monster season thus far and this game was no different. He single- handedly controlled the pace and basically acted as the Piston’s main ball handler. It’s such a bizarre thing to watch as Blake runs the point. He had an all-around performance and kept the Celtics on their toes all night long. The combo of he and Drummond is such a difficult one for teams like the Celtics who don’t have many stereotypical big men to throw at them. Blake has fallen in love with the 3-point shot a bit this season but he did an exceptional job of limiting his attempts from out there (1-2 from 3) and focusing on getting to the rim. He was rewarded with 13 free throws of his own and that not only kept the pace down, but gave him some built in rest as well.
A few days off and then the Celtics return to the Garden Wednesday night 12/19 to face off against the Suns (6-24) at 7:30 PM ET.