The Celtics are looking to win their third straight game as they visit the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are winless so far on the season, losing to Minnesota, Cleveland, Atlanta and Golden State. They have stayed within striking distance in all 4 games, but just couldn’t close them out to get a win.
These two teams will meet a second straight time on Sunday for a matinee game. That game will also be in Detroit as the league is trying to limit travel. The Celtics and the Pistons played only 2 games last season and tied the series 1-1 with both games taking place in Boston.
The Pistons return only 4 players from last season: Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Sekou Doumbouya so a slow start is to be expected as they try to build chemistry. They also have 4 rookies suiting up for them. They are the only team in the league with 4 top 4 picks on the roster: Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Jahlil Okafor, and Josh Jackson.
The Celtics will be missing Kemba Walker (knee) and Romeo Langford (wrist) once again. Javonte Green missed Wednesday’s game due to covid protocols and is also out for this game. Tristan Thompson also missed Wednesday’s game for hamstring recovery but is expected to be back for this one.
For the Pistons, starting point guard Killian Hayes left Tuesday’s game with an ankle injury but was able to go through a workout on Wednesday. He is considered questionable for this game and will be a game time decision. If Hayes can’t play, I would guess that Derrick Rose will start in his place. Blake Griffin left Tuesday’s game and was put into concussion protocol and will miss this game. I’m going to guess that Sekou Doumbouya will likely get the start in his place. Jahlil Okafor is probable after injuring his ankle on Saturday.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson
Romeo Langford (wrist) out
Kemba Walker (knee) out
Javonte Green (covid 19 protocols) out
Probable Pistons Starters
PG: Killian Hayes
SG: Josh Jackson
SF: Jerami Grant
PF: Sekou Doumbouya
C: Mason Plumlee
Killian Hayes (ankle) game time decision
Jahlil Okafor (ankle) probable
Blake Griffin (concussion) out
Frank Jackson (NWT) out
Jayson Tatum vs Jerami Grant
Grant has been a bright spot for Detroit so far. He is averaging 22.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 blocks. He has scored at least 27 points in his last 3 games. Slowing Grant down will go a long way toward slowing Detroit down.
Jaylen Brown vs Josh Jackson
Jackson is averaging 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Jayen Brown is coming off a career high 42 points against the Grizzlies and should be filled with confidence coming into this game. Along with his offense, he needs to work on the defensive end to slow Jackson down.
Tristan Thompson vs Mason Plumlee
With Griffin out, the power forward spot is not as big a matchup and the center position becomes more important for them. Plumlee is averaging 7.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.5 steals. The Celtics especially need to keep him out of the paint and off the boards.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense always will be key to winning. Last season the Celtics had a top 4 defense but so far this season, they are lacking on the defensive end of the court. The Celtics are allowing 114.0 points (18th), which isn’t good enough if they hope to be contenders. The Celtics are last in the league, allowing teams to shoot 49.9% from the field. They must get better on defense.
Rebound - Rebounding is important to give the Celtics extra possessions and to limit possessions for their opponents. The Celtics are averaging 41.8 rebounds per game but the Pistons are averaging 48.5 rebounds (4th). Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics must increase their effort to crash the boards.
Run and Move the Ball - The Celtics need to run and get up the court before the Pistons defense is able to get set. They also need to move the ball to find the open man and not settle for iso plays and hero ball.
Get to the Hoop - The Celtics need to make an effort to get into the paint and get to the basket. When they drive inside, they either get a basket or draw a foul. This was missing in their 2 losses and they need to make an effort to go inside and not settle for all outside shots.
Underestimation - The Celtics are facing a team that doesn’t have a win as yet and is young and has many new faces. It would be easy to underestimate this team and come out with less than their best basketball. But, the Pistons are hungry for a win and will play hard and the Celtics need to be ready to match their intensity.
On the Road - The Celtics are back on the road and even though there aren’t fans, playing in another city can cause some hardships and problems for the visiting team. The Celtics need to stay focused and shake off the inconveniences to play their best.
Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. Every crew calls the game differently. Some call it tight and call every bit of contact while others allow more physical play. Some favor the home team while others call both sides evenly. The Celtics have to adjust to the way the refs are calling the game.