The Celtics complete their 3 game home stand with a visit from the Detroit Pistons. This is the 2nd of 3 meetings between these two teams this season. They beat the Pistons 114-93 in Boston on December 20 in their first meeting. The Celtics were missing Smart, Hayward, Poirier, and Robert Williams in that game. Their final meeting will be in Detroit on April 13. The Celtics won the series 3-1 last season and are 206-108 all time against the Pistons. They are 97-41 vs the Pistons at home.
The Celtics are back to second in the East, half a game in front of Miami. The Pistons are 11th in the East. The Celtics are 16-3 at home while the Pistons are 6-14 on the road. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Pistons are 3-7 in their last 10. The Celtics are looking for their third straight win. The Pistons are hoping to avoid a 4 game losing streak. The Celtics are 19-7 vs Eastern Conference teams while the Pistons are 10-20 vs the East.
The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games. They will face the Bucks in Milwaukee on Thursday to complete the back to back set. The Celtics are 3-3 on the first night of back to back games and they are 2-1 when the games are home and then road. Both teams last played on Monday night and had Tuesday off.
Jayson Tatum bumped knees in Monday’s game against the Bulls and has some soreness as a result. He is out for this game but will travel with the team to Milwaukee for Thursday’s game. Daniel Theis is still dealing with some knee soreness and is listed as questionable. He stated that he was hoping to play tonight after going through Wednesday’s shoot around and is probable to play tonight.
I’m guessing that Semi Ojeleye will start in place of Tatum but they may start Smart at shooting guard and move Brown and Hayward up a slot or they may give Grant Williams a start at power forward. The starters will likely be announced 30 minutes before game time and until then, I am just guessing. Robert Williams is still out with the hip injury. Carsen Edwards was with the Red Claws on Tuesday night and will likely still be with them for this game.
For the Pistons, Blake Griffin had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and will be out for the foreseeable future. Reggie Jackson has been out since late October with a stress reaction in his back and is out for this game. Luke Kennard will be out until at least the All Star break with knee soreness. Khyri Thomas has been out for 2 months after having surgery on his foot and remains out for this game.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Semi Ojeleye
C: Daniel Theis
Carsen Edwards (assigned to G-League) out
Robert Williams (hip) out
Daniel Theis (knee) game time decision
Jayson Tatum (knee) out
Two Way Players
Probable Pistons Starters
PG: Bruce Brown
SG: Svi Mykhailiuk
SF: Tony Snell
PF: Sekou Doumbouya
C: Andre Drummond
Reggie Jackson (back) out
Khyri Thomas (foot) out
Blake Griffin (knee) out
Luke Kennard (knee) out
Two Way Players
Enes Kanter vs Andre Drummond
Drummond is a unique challenge for the Celtics. He is averaging 17.4 points, 15.7 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. He is shooting 52.6% from the field but doesn’t play on the perimeter, which explains his 5% shooting from beyond the arc. Theis (and Kanter) will need to box him out and try to keep him out of the paint.
Marcus Smart vs Derrick Rose
The only starter that averages double figures for the Pistons is Andre Drummond. Derrick Rose is averaging 18.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. He is shooting 48.8% from beyond the field and 32.4% from beyond the arc. He may have lost a step or two from his MVP season but he is still very capable of putting up a lot of points if he isn’t guarded closely.
Kemba Walker vs Bruce Brown
Brown is the second highest scorer in the Pistons starting lineup. He is averaging 8.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals. He is shooting 44% from the field and 33.8% from beyond the arc. Hopefully the Celtics can take care of business and Kemba will get to rest in the 4th quarter and leave guarding Brown to Brad Wanamaker.
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 4th (104.5). 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 111.7, which is 23rd. The Celtics need to play tough team defense and not allow the Pistons to stay close.
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 grab rebounds 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. Their 3 game losing streak was the result of mostly lack of effort and the Celtics have to have maximum effort in every game.
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 completing a 3 game home stand. They should get a boost from the home crowd. The Pistons are just 6-14 on the road and they may be distracted by the crowd and the hassles of playing on the road. The Celtics need to take advantage of the friendly atmosphere and let that motivate them to get a win.
Officiating - The officiating is an x-factor in every single game. 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 and no calls frustrate them. Hopefully the refs will let both teams play and call it fairly in this one.