The Celtics begin a 5 game home stand as they welcome the Detroit Pistons for the first of 3 meetings this season. They will meet twice more in Detroit on December 10 and February 23. The Celtics lead the Eastern Conference and the Pistons are right behind them in 2nd place just 4.5 games back.
The Celtics have won two straight and are playing in the 3rd game in 4 nights. The Pistons are looking to win their second straight but haven't played since their 99-98 come from behind win over the Thunder on Friday night. The Celtics are 8-1 at home while the Pistons are 5-4 on the road. The Celtics won the series 3-1 last season, winning both games in Detroit and splitting the two games in Boston.
In the offseason, the Celtics traded Avery Bradley, who had been with the Celtics for 7 seasons, to the Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris. The trade has worked out well for both teams and this is the first time for both players facing their old teams. Avery should get a warm welcome from the fans and former teammates alike. In addition, Aron Baynes, who signed with the Celtics as a free agent, played for the Pistons last season.
Jaylen Brown missed Saturday's game due to the funeral of his best friend. I expect him to be back to play in this game. Marcus Morris sat out Saturday's game with knee soreness and I also expect him to be back for this game. I included Aron Baynes in the starting lineup because I think he matches up better with Drummond. However, Brad may go with Morris to start. Both have had plenty of practice guarding Drummond in practices when they were with Detroit last season.
Jon Leuer is out with an ankle injury for Detroit. I've included the starters from the Pistons' game notes. The last time these two teams met, Avery Bradley was starting for the Celtics and Marcus Morris started for the Pistons.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Aron Baynes
Jaylen Brown (personal) probable
Marcus Morris (knee) probable
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Two Way Players
Probable Pistons Starters
PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Stanley Johnson
PF: Tobias Harris
C: Andre Drummond
Jon Leuer (ankle) out
Two Way Players
Kyrie Irving vs Reggie Jackson
Jackson is averaging 15.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. Kyrie has been the best point guard in every matchup this season and there's no reason to think that he will do otherwise in this one. I'm sure that Avery will be defending him for the most part rather than Jackson.
Al Horford vs Tobias Harris
Harris is leading the Pistons with 18.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Al has been the key to the Celtics defense this season and he will need to keep Harris from having a big game in this one.
Jaylen Brown vs Avery Bradley
Avery, who is the Pistons' best defender will likely defend Kyrie to try to slow him down. Whether Jaylen guards Avery or Reggie, he will have a height advantage and should be able to win the matchup.
Aron Baynes vs Andre Drummond
I’m thinking that Baynes will get the start at center because he matches up better with Drummond, who takes 80% of his shots within 5 feet of the basket. Drummond is averaging 13.7 points, 15.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game this season. Last season he averaged 21.3 points and 17.8 rebounds in 4 games against the Celtics. Baynes has plenty of experience defending Drummond after being his teammate the past two seasons. He will need to keep him off the boards as well.
Keys to the Game
Defense- Defense wins games and the Celtics have been winning with their defense. The Celtics are 14-0 when they hold opponents under 100. The Celtics are still ranked first with a defensive rating of 97.1. The Pistons are 13th with a defensive rating of 103.7. The Celtics have to continue to make defense a priority.
Rebound - Rebounding takes effort and desire. The Celtics will need both in order to beat front line of the Pistons to the rebounds. The Celtics have rebounded very well in most games this season but in their loss to the Heat, they allowed the heat to out-rebound them. The Celtics are 6th with 46.3 rebounds per game. The Pistons are 18th with 42.8 rebounds per game but the Pistons are 6th in second chance points with 13.9 per game. The Celtics have to put out the effort to keep the Pistons off the boards.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be aggressive in going for loose balls, rebounding and defending. They also have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settle for threes especially if they aren't falling . Good things happen when they get inside. They have to be hungry and play like the team that wants it more. They have to play aggressively for 48 minutes.
Play 48 Minutes - Both of these teams have come back from double digit deficits this season to win. It's certain that the Pistons are going to play hard right until the final buzzer and the Celtics will need to do the same. The Celtics need to start strong and play hard for the entire 48 minutes because even if they build a lead, the Pistons are always a threat to fight back.
Home Game - The Celtics are at home and should get a boost from the home crowd. Also, the Pistons are 5-4 on the road and so the Celtics need to take advantage of the friendly atmosphere and exploit the Pistons' struggles on the road.
Motivation - The Celtics are at the top of the Eastern Conference and the Pistons are second just 4.5 games behind them. The Celtics should be motivated to get this win and move another game ahead of them. The Pistons, on the other hand, are looking to gain a game on the Celtics and move closer to the top themselves. Which team's motivation will be stronger?