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The Read & React: we miss you, Avery

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Chin: Boston shot 12 for 21 (57 percent) from the charity stripe. Through 22 games, Jaylen Brown's rate from the line (59 percent) is lower than Andre Drummond's (60.5). The sample size has reached 115 career games, and Brown remains an underwhelming free throw shooter. FT rate is crucial for any player who relies on drawing contact at the rim, and Jaylen is worse now than as a rookie. Still, there are many players who struggle with free throws to begin their careers—no reason to panic yet. Detroit's half-court execution was pinpoint sharp tonight, but attention to detail was a contributing factor in the result.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It was great to see the bench produce some quality offense. Recently, the second unit had not been able to find much reliable playmaking. Tonight, Marcus Smart's 23 points and 6 assists changed that, and the bench was a combined +26. Additionally, Brad Stevens opted to stagger the minutes for Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, and their constant presence helped the offense maintain a continued groove. Boston shot 52 percent in the game. They certainly didn't lose this one on offense.

Bill Sy: That’s basketball. It’s a “pick your poison” sport, and that’s particularly true when it comes to the pick-and-roll. That screen forces the defense to make a decision. Since Brad Stevens’s arrival, the Celtics have predominantly chose to ICE PnRs: the defensive big will retreat and track the ball handler as the defending guard recovers and tries to steer the action away from the basket.

It’s all in an attempt to bend, not break. It’s not as aggressive as trapping the ball handler and forcing him to get rid of the ball quickly (which the Pistons did with Kyrie Irving all night). Instead, when you ICE a pick, you’re trying to keep all the action in front you and force a bad shot. You’ll accept a contested shot at the rim or a long 2-point shot.

Last night, the Pistons took advantage of the Celtics’ defensive strategy, and it led to a bunch of easy rolls for Andre Drummond and drives for Reggie Jackson. Here’s a good example:

Jackson isn’t exactly Chris Paul with his passing ability or Russell Westbrook with his driving, but because Boston doesn’t really commit to stopping him or Drummond, he can make that easy lob at the rim or drive on the backpedaling Al Horford.

If the defense sinks in to prevent the easy bucket, there are shooters all around the perimeter. Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley were a combined 7-for-10 from behind the arc.

It wasn’t just Reggie Jackson either. Remember all those dribble hand-offs that AB used to run as a Celtic? Stan Van Gundy runs some similar stuff for him in Detroit, but he’s added a few wrinkles. Not only does Bradley come off a few screens, but the big also rolls and makes Bradley a playmaker instead of just a mid-range shooter.

The bitter irony is that what could have neutralized the Pistons’ PnR was an on-ball defender like Avery Bradley, someone who could fight over screens and hang on the hip of Reggie Jackson as he turned the corner. But not only is this a “pick your poison” game, but it’s also a “pick your poison” league. After signing Gordon Hayward, the Celtics had to make a decision.

Alex Kungu: The Pistons have proven to be a really good team that could potentially be a nightmarish matchup for the Cs. They can match the Celtics’ versatile lineups, they have an amazing defender in Avery Bradley who always gives Kyrie issues, and they have a blossoming big in Andre Drummond who was able to stay on the court late when Boston played small thanks to the efforts of the Pistons perimeter players who made the Celtics’ attempts at dribble penetration futile.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston missed 9 FTs, turned the ball over 17 times, and looked nothing like the team that has ranked as the top defensive team by a mile. Maybe fatigue caught up to them? Boston was coming off their 3rd game in 4 nights and are tied with Orlando for most games played in the Eastern Conference at 22. Meanwhile, the Pistons got the weekend off and were waiting for Boston when they came back from Indiana. All of that isn't to say that the Pistons weren't the better team, but it wouldn't be surprising to see a different Celtics squad when they take them on again next Friday.

Bill Sy: Sunday, December 10th at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Need a pen, Kyrie?

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