The Boston Celtics entered the fourth road game of the season and the 2nd game in a 2-game series in Detroit with an early Sunday matinee tip-off. Boston were looking to rebound from a horrible performance Friday which would see them go scoreless in the last 4 minutes and change, handing the Pistons a first win of the season. With the Celtics moving to 3-3 on the season, Boston started the game in almost a must win scenario to split the 2-game Pistons stretch.
Much has been written about the Celtics two-big lineup this season, but with both Griffin and Plumlee starting for Detroit, Brad Stevens rolled with TT and Theis once more. With a flat footed start last game, Boston would look to the bigs to contribute as Brown and Tatum eased into things.
Boston’s defense has been subpar all season especially in these two games and Jerami Grant was getting whatever he wanted early getting in the lane at will scoring 12 points in the 1st stanza on a perfect 5/5. Detroit as a team were hot to start the game, shooting a blistering 67 percent from the field.
Jaylen Brown would play the entire 1st quarter and he was crucial for Boston pacing them with 13 points on 3-4 triples as the quarter would end 33-31 Detroit.
Boston’s spluttering from the previous game would continue into the 2nd quarter with 3 putrid offensive possessions including a shot clock violation and a Semi Ojeleye prayer with the shot clock expiring. Rookie Payton Pritchard would provide a spark off the bench on both ends as Boston would keep in close. Extra efforts, active hands and hustle would see him stay on the floor with the starters.
I am obsessed with how Payton Pritchard plays defense pic.twitter.com/g48E0xuU8R— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) January 3, 2021
Some brilliant deep shooting from Jayson Tatum (13 points, 3-6 three) and Brown’s continued efficiency (9-11 in the half) would give Boston a lead heading into the half but it was the defensive turnaround that highlighted things with the score 61-57.
Boston’s Daniel Theis would register his 226th foul and counting, best for first in the entire Eastern conference, the Celtics offensive flow would be disrupted somewhat as whistles would highlight the early going in the second half. The solid early shooting of Jayson and Jaylen would see the floor and lane open up for both Theis and TT. Tristan Thompson played solidly in this game registering another big double-double for Boston.
Derrick Rose’s (13 points) penetrating dribbling and pace would give Boston trouble all game with 9 points through three as Detroit managed to hang with Boston 91-88.
Boston would start off the quarter strong behind a pair of Semi Ojeleye (11 points) three pointers taking some of the scoring burden off the shoulders of Brown and Tatum. Boston’s bench has struggled this season to put up points regularly but they came good in this one with rookie Payton Pritchard hitting on a triple and Semi stepping up to make yet another three with 7:30 to go in the quarter.
Jeff Teague would leave the court after he rolled a left ankle on a defensive adjustment just as scored tied at 108 apiece. Teague would not return for Boston as the Pistons would go 16-31 from three fuelling yet another nail biting finish in Midtown Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena.
A late coaches challenge overturned a crucial out of bounds call in Detroit’s favour as scores remained tied 113-113 with 2 minutes to go. Boston would take the lead behind a Daniel Theis made basket and tough Marcus Smart penetration with Derrick Rose draped all over him. At the other end, Blake Griffin who had a reasonably quiet game with 13 points for Detroit split a pair of free throws late.
With under a minute to go, Detroit ran a play for Mason Plumlee who drew a foul on Theis and made the score 118-117 Detroit. Brad Stevens then ran a play for Jayson Tatum (24 points, 12 assists) who drew a ton of defenders collapsing into the key and with Jaylen on the right hand side wing, the 5-year man Brown (31 points, 5-8 from three) would step into the shot with poise and stick a huge 3. Tatum would register a double double on the night with 12 assists as he turned facilitator with Detroit showing extra defenders his way.
However, in keeping with the general theme of this two game series with Detroit and the season as a whole Boston would have the ball on one possession with scores tied 120-120. Jayson Tatum’s (24 points) elbow jumper with Blake Griffin falling down would seal it for Boston 122-120.