The Detroit Pistons visit the TD Garden for the first of three games between the Celtics and the Pistons this season. They will meet again in Boston on January 15 and their final meeting will be in Detroit on April 13. The Celtics won the series 3-1 last season and are 205-108 all time against the Pistons. They are 96-41 vs the Pistons at home.
The Celtics are back to second in the East. The Pistons are 10th in the East. The Celtics are 10-1 at home while the Pistons are 4-9 on the road. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Pistons are 5-5 in their last 10. The Celtics are looking for their second straight win. The Pistons are hoping to avoid a 3 game losing streak. The Celtics are 11-4 vs Eastern Conference teams while the Pistons are 8-15 in the conference.
The Pistons will be missing point guard Reggie Jackson, who is out with a back injury. He will be evaluated again in 2 weeks. Khryi Thomas will miss this game and is expected to miss the next 6 weeks. Christian Wood is questionable with a knee injury and is expected to be a game time decision. Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard are both late scratches for this game with knee injuries. It’s just a guess that Langston Galloway and Markieff Morris will replace Kennard and Griffin in the starting lineup.
The Hospital Celtics are still very short handed. Carsen Edwards is still with the Maine Red Claws and had 23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals on Thursday in the Las Vegas Showcase. Brad Wanamaker was added to the injury list on Thursday with a sprained ankle but is now listed as probable. Victor Poirier is out after finger surgery. Robert Williams remains out with the hip injury.
Marcus Smart is still out with the eye infection. He has been isolated at his house and unable to do anything basketball related. He is expected back by Christmas. Gordon Hayward still has pain in his left foot where the toe and the foot join. They aren’t sure what is causing it. He had an MRI on Thursday which came back clear but he is out for this game. I am going to guess that Semi will start once again if Hayward can’t play.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Semi Ojeleye
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Daniel Theis
Carsen Edwards assigned to G-League
Marcus Smart (eye) out
Vincent Poirier (finger) out
Robert Williams (hip) out
Gordon Hayward (foot) out
Brad Wanamaker (ankle) probable
Two Way Players
Probable Pistons Starters
PG: Bruce Brown
SG: Langston Galloway
SF: Tony Snell
PF: Markieff Morris
C: Andre Drummond
Reggie Jackson (back) out
Khyri Thomas (foot) out
Christian Wood (knee) out
Blake Griffin (knee) out
Luke Kennard (knee) out
Two Way Players
Daniel Theis vs Andre Drummond
Drummond is a unique challenge for Theis. He is averaging 17.8 points, 16.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. He is shooting 55% from the field but doesn’t play on the perimeter and hasn’t hit a 3 pointer this season. Theis will need to box him out and try to keep him out of the paint.
Jayson Tatum vs Markieff Morris
Tatum will think he is back to last year playing with Marcus Morris as he faces off against Marcus’ twin brother Markieff. As I said, this is just a guess that he will start in place of Blake Griffin. Morris is averaging 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He is capable of a big game when given the minutes so Jayson can’t relax on defense just because Blake Griffin is out.
Brad Wanamaker vs Derrick Rose
Rose is averaging 16.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. He is shooting 48% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc. He may have lost a step from his prime, but he is still capable of putting up big games if not defended well.
Keys to the Game
Defense- Defense is always very important to winning. When the Celtics lose it’s usually because they allow their defense to slip. The Celtics’ defensive rating has slipped to 8th (104.2). The Pistons have a defensive rating of 110.5, which is 19th. The Celtics offensive rating is 110.9 (6th) and the Pistons offensive rating is 110.1 (8th) With the offensive rating so close, the Celtics must win this game with defense.
Rebound - Rebounding takes effort and desire. The Celtics will need both in order to beat front line of the Pistons to the rebounds. Andre Drummond is an excellent rebounder and the Celtics are going to have to put out extra effort in order to beat the Pistons to the boards. The Celtics can’t score without the ball and in order to get the ball they are going to have to work harder to crash the boards as a team.
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 to the basket. They have to be hungry and play like the team that wants it more.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have to start strong and not let up. They can’t get a lead and then let up and allow the opponent to catch up and they can’t start slow and have to spend the game trying to make up a huge deficit. They have to play hard from start to finish.
Don’t Underestimate - It would be easy to underestimate the Pistons and think that this will be an easy win but that would be a mistake. The Celtics always seem to get the best game of the season from teams, even the ones that don’t usually play well. Every team seems to hate the Celtics and play their best against them. The Celtics need to play as though they were playing the top team in the league and not take them for granted.
Home Game - The Celtics are at home and should get a boost from the home crowd. The Pistons are just 4-9 on the road and the Celtics are 10-1 at home. The Celtics need to take advantage of the friendly atmosphere and let that motivate them to get a win.
Next Man Up - Both teams are missing key players. The Celtics are missing their heart and soul with Marcus Smart not with the team. The rest of the team must step up and pick up the slack on the defensive end. They will also miss Gordon Hayward, who has been playing very well. Two centers are also out against a very dominant opposing center. Which team will fill in better for their injured teammates?
Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor. Every crew calls the game a little differently and teams need to adjust to how the game is being called and not let bad calls frustrate them. Hopefully the refs will let both teams play and call it fairly in this one.