Once again, the Celtics found themselves on the road for the second half of back to back. Coming into this game, they had won 10 straight of those games. Unfortunately, they weren't able to turn it up to 11 tonight.
After a terrible shooting performance against Cleveland, Boston responded with a much improved effort against Detroit. Isaiah Thomas led the way to start the game. He was aggressive early, with some nice drives into the paint. The scoring was nice, but he had some nice kick out passes that led to good shots as well.
Andre Drummond is the key to what Detroit does. He's a terrifying rim running threat, who rebounds as well as anyone in the league. Turns out he can hit half court shots too. Who knew? He buried one to give Detroit a three point lead heading into half.
Boston's offense was a little stagnant in the third quarter. They had some turnover issues, and the Pistons capitalized. Detroit extended their lead to 10 points by the halfway mark of the quarter. Drummond had been mostly held in check, but he came alive in the third. He chipped in a quick six points during their run, four of them directly after offensive rebounds.
Brad Stevens went with the Hack a Drummond strategy after Detroit built their double digit lead. Drummond went 3-6 during this stretch and got pulled from the game. Boston scored on each possession following the Drummond free throws, so it helped them cut down the lead.
The third quarter closed with a heavy dose of Thomas and Zeller. They scored 20 straight points for the Celtics, and brought them within 2 points to end the quarter. Thomas was absolutely on fire, and had 28 points after three quarters.
On a side note, Aron Baynes caught an accidental shot to face that drew some blood. This, combined with the hack a Drummond contributed to a seemingly unending third quarter.
The fourth quarter began with yet another Tyler Zeller basket, bringing him to 12 points and finally tying the game. Isaiah came out, and Detroit jumped out ahead again. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continued his hot shooting by nailing two quick shots. With a questionable Drummond tip-in and a pair of Tolliver 3s, Detroit was suddenly back up by 12.
Luckily, Jared Sullinger stepped up to stop the bleeding. He hit a huge three, then added a dunk after Drummond blew a wide open shot at the other end.
Isaiah came back in and sparked a 12-2 Boston run to bring the Celtics within striking distance. A little later in the fourth, Jonas Jerebko hit a trio of threes to get a little revenge against his old team. The biggest issue down the stretch was getting stops. Drummond wasn't on the floor because of his foul shooting, so Reggie Jackson took over. He scored 13 straight points for the Pistons at one point.
Down by 4 with 20 seconds left, Evan Turner made a clutch three-point play to bring the deficit down to one point. After two made FTs, Jerebko couldn't convert a tough layup, and that sealed it for the Pistons.
Defending the Three
The Celtics have been really good this season defending against threes, but tonight was a different story. The Pistons converted 52% of their long distance shots. You wouldn't have expected that coming in given how bad Detroit is from deep, but KCP especially was on fire. Caldwell-Pope would finish with 31 points.
Isaiah Thomas should be an All Star
It's hard to imagine where this team would be without him. He was awesome tonight. He pulled the Celtics out of a hole on in the third, then did it again in the fourth. You can't ask for much more than 38 points and 7 assists.
The Return of Tyler Zeller
We saw Zeller get some minutes tonight. He drew a couple offensive fouls on Andre Drummond and added 12 points of his own. He looked confident despite the lack of recent minutes. He and Thomas were the driving forces behind Boston's run to get back in the game. That's how you want someone to respond when he gets finally playing time. Welcome back Godzeller, we've missed you.