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Boston’s depth shows up and 9 other takeaways from Celtics/Pistons

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10 players contributed for the shorthanded Celtics

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Boston hit the All-Star break on a high-note, as they rolled by Detroit. The Pistons made it closer at the end than it should have been, as the Celtics may have started dreaming of vacation a little early, but this one was in-hand for almost the entire second half.

2. The first half of this game was one of the weirder halves of basketball in a while. Detroit ripped off a 17-0 run to take control in the first quarter. Boston responded with an 18-0 run of their own to take control back. It’s often said that the NBA is a game of run, and this was an extreme example of that.

3. The Celtics played shorthanded with several players injured or ill, but the 10 players who did play all contributed. Six players scored in double-figures, while the others contributed with solid defense or rebounding. This was the kind of game that showed off the depth that was supposed to be one of Boston’s strengths for this season.

4. It was another strong game for Gordon Hayward, who really seems to have turned a corner over the last month or so. He has the occasional dud now and again, but what player doesn’t? After the monster effort against the Philadelphia 76ers, Hayward scored 18 points against the Pistons, while grabbing five rebounds and handing out eight assists. Really encouraging? He got to the line for eight free throw attempts and made seven.

5. Al Horford was another player to play a second straight great game. After being one of the keys to winning in Philadelphia, Horford came back with a big effort with a 17/14/8 line against Detroit. On this play, you can see how special Horford’s all-around game is. Because he can hit the three-pointer, he’s able to drive the close-out from Andre Drummond. As the help comes at the rim, instead of passing to a guarded Marcus Smart in the corner, he whips a pass to the break and Brad Wanamaker drills the open triple:

6. Jaylen Brown is becoming really adept at scoring over smaller defenders. Here, Brown works out of the mid-post area, takes a dribble, uses his shoulder to create space and buries the jumper. The smaller defender has no chance. And if teams start putting bigger players on him, Brown is comfortable to take them outside and work them off the bounce. His offensive game is really starting to round out now.

7. Daniel Theis has become one of the best roll-men in the league. He has a good understanding of when to set the screen, when to slip the screen or when to step back for the jumper. Here he works with Jayson Tatum to get a dunk by slipping the screen early. And watch Tatum too. He delivers an on-time hook-pass. This isn’t an easy pass to make in traffic, but Tatum is getting better at it by the game.

8. Semi Ojeleye has become the poster boy for “be ready when your number is called”. He doesn’t play often, because the Celtics have a bunch of depth at the forward spot. But he always seems to contribute when he gets his chance. He came up with nine points, including a couple of three-pointers and this “Wow!” play:

9. Smart didn’t have the best shooting game against Philly, but of course had the huge dunk late to help Boston win. After putting together one of the best shooting stretches of his career, he’s hit a bit of slump. In the second half he showed signs of coming out of that slump, as he drilled 4-of-5 three-pointers. On this play, he makes the Pistons pay for helping off him. Smart becoming a weapon from behind the arc changes his game and the Celtics ceiling.

10. This is another nice play from Theis, as he takes one from the Horford playbook of attacking off the bounce. Drummond tries to jump the screen, but Theis never sets it. Instead, Hayward hit Theis with the quick pass and Theis goes off the bounce for the dunk. These sorts of plays are why Boston may have the most versatile set of bigs in the NBA. And why they feel comfortable matching up however necessary come the playoffs.

Enjoy the All-Star break everyone!