The Boston Celtics led by as many as 26 points and defeated the Pistons in Detroit, 109-89, Saturday night. Here’s how the Boston Celtics players graded out in the win.
After peaking its head out from the sand in Oklahoma City, the Celtics offense finally came to play for a full 48 minutes and the results were quite impressive. 14 made three-pointers and 25 assists on 39 baskets.
The ball was moving and the players were cutting with purpose and the shots were finally falling. Sometimes, basketball is as simple as sharing the love. Play the game the right way, make your teammates happy, and good things will happen.
Boston finally looked like the team we were all expecting, devastating Detroit with their length and tenacity and pinging the ball from great player to great player until the defense loosens up.
Here’s how each player graded out in the 20-point win.
Irving only scored 3 points, but he dished out 5 assists and snatched 7 defensive rebounds. He competed his rear off defensively, jostling with Blake Griffin on switches and providing timely help-side defense. The 6-foot-3 point guard also freed Al Horford for a handful of open three-pointers with a beautiful back pass he’s become a master at, though Horford missed his shots Saturday.
Throughout his career, Irving has been criticized as someone who is just a scorer and doesn’t help his team in other ways. Against Detroit, Irving proved he can help a team in a variety of ways, even if makes just one shot all game.
In addition, Celtics coach Brad Stevens gave Brown the unenviable task of guarding Pistons forward Blake Griffin to start the game. Griffin entered the game averaging 33.8 points per game, but Brown and Co. held him to just 7 points on 2-of-13 shooting. Brown’s harassing defense and tenacity fighting with Griffin for every inch of position went a long way in making it a long night for the Detroit star.
He sized up Griffin and nailed a sweet hesitation pull up three to put Boston ahead by 21 in the first half. The only knock on Brown is a couple of missed bunnies at the rim.
Hayward scored 15 points in 24 minutes on 6-of-11 shooting. He made 2-of-5 from deep. The 6-foot-8 wing also pulled down five defensive rebounds.
The 15 points were Hayward’s highest point total of the season and came on the heels of his lowest output, when he made one field goal and scored 5 points against Oklahoma City.
Hayward’s smarts and instincts give Stevens another layer to an already deep playbook. When Stevens is at his best diagramming plays, he uses his player’s strengths to put the defense in a no-win situation. With players like Irving, Hayward and Horford, Stevens has players who are adept at adjusting in the moment to the smallest defensive tweak.
However, the offensive diversity allowed the Celtics to find a rhythm they hadn’t had all season and Tatum was more patient and paint-oriented, even if he continues to pass up open three-pointers. Tatum also dished out 3 assists, including a couple really nice dimes to Daniel Theis that are great to see out of the young man.
The 6-foot-8 wing had a season-low three rebounds, but contributed to the overwhelming defensive effort that shocked Detroit. Tatum’s length continues to create problems, while his ability to read an NBA offense only gets better with game time.
Still, Horford’s defense was critical in limiting both Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond and though he only had four rebounds himself, Al kept the Pistons from second-chance points with strong positional defense and boxing out.
Drummond was averaging 6 offensive rbeounds per game for Detroit, and Horford helped hold him to just two, and Detroit to just six, in the Celtics win.
Horford, however, missed all five of his three-point attempts and finished with just four points on 2-of-8 shooting. He dished out a season-low one assist.
Daniel Theis and Marcus Morris both reached double figures in scoring in the first half. Theis finished the game with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Morris had 18 points and 8 rebounds himself. Both guys played phenomenal defense in the paint, the key against the Pistons, and stretched the Detroit defense with their three-point shooting.
Boston’s bench outscored Detroit, 62-34, and continue to show they are going to be one of the best bench units in the league, capable of winning a game on their own in the right circumstances.
The Boston Celtics (4-2) and the Detroit Pistons (4-1) will play again on Tuesday, this time back in Boston. The Celtics will hope to make it three in a row and show their coach they can play consistent basketball, while the Pistons will look to get back in the winner’s circle after losing their first game.