Just 24 hours after an impressive win against the conference rival Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics took the court once again, this time facing the lowly Detroit Pistons. This game had “schedule loss” written all over it, as an unplanned back-to-back created by schedule reshuffling after Boston’s COVID-related postponements. Unfortunately, tired legs seemed too much for the Celtics to overcome, and they fell to the Pistons at home, 108-102.
While the Celtics triumphed over Toronto behind unlikely scoring performances from role players, order was restored tonight against Detroit. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown returned to their rightful places as Boston’s two primary scorers (Kemba Walker sat for rest purposes). This time, though, the problem was a lack of support. The Jays combined for 60 points, but the rest of the Celtics’ roster managed only 42. For the Pistons, rookie forward Saddiq Bey had a breakout performance, scoring 30 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field, while Delon Wright tacked on 22 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists on 7-of-9 shooting.
For the second time in two nights, the Celtics started out the night on a hot streak. After rattling off a 15-2 advantage against Toronto on Thursday night, they opened up tonight’s contest against Detroit with a 12-2 run. The offense didn’t flow quite as effectively as it did against Toronto — shooting 20-of-39 from three is hardly sustainable, after all — but on the other side, Detroit’s offense seemed cursed in some fashion, with a handful of seemingly good shots going halfway down, only to roll back out again.
sometimes you gotta just let JB do his thing@FCHWPO = #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/bonsqHpLDm— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 13, 2021
Brown led the way for the Celtics in the opening quarter, bouncing back from a tough 3-of-12 outing against Toronto to connect on four of his first five shots on the evening. Alongside him, Semi Ojeleye continued his breakout shooting from Thursday, opening the scoring for the evening with a corner three and tallying up a very quick six points in the opening minutes. However, fortunes quickly changed as the quarter drew to a close. The Pistons found a spark behind their second unit, and rattled off an 18-5 run in the final minutes, flipping the lead. The Celtics entered the second quarter behind by four, 27-23.
The Celtics restored a small advantage early in the second quarter, but the effects of the back-to-back (and the absence of Kemba Walker) could be felt as the quarter moved forward. Detroit seemed to be playing with more energy, and the Celtics appeared to be forcing shots a little more frequently than they had been against Toronto the night before. The rookie Bey proved to be a significant issue — he piled up 19 points in the first half, including 14 in the second quarter, and kept the Boston defense on their heels. The Pistons led by two at the half, 54-52.
JAYTEEE— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 13, 2021
RT to make @jaytatum0 an #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/mJVD7Z6BVb
The second half opened with competing mini-runs from both the Celtics and Pistons. The two traded buckets up to the midpoint of the quarter, with neither seemingly able to find an edge. The game remained within one possession for most of this time. Just under the five minute mark, however, the Celtics suffered an unfortunate loss, as Ojeleye came up limping after contact with Blake Griffin on the offensive end. He departed the game with reported right knee soreness and did not return.
Following Ojeleye’s departure, the Celtics seemed to fizzle. The Pistons were simply executing better on both ends. Led by the continued excellence of Bey, who had pushed his scoring total to 27 by the end of the third quarter, the Pistons started to push their lead further ahead. At the end of the third, the Celtics trailed by 10, 82-72.
February 13, 2021
The fourth quarter began much as each of the three before it. The Celtics made up small amounts of ground, but the Pistons found adequate ways to keep them at arm’s length. Most concerningly, the Celtics seemed unable to catch up even with the Detroit second unit on the court. They made up just one point of the Pistons’ lead before the first stoppage in play with eight minutes remaining in the quarter.
As play resumed, the Celtics found some momentum. Brown converted a pair of free throws after being whacked in the face by Jackson (questionably ruled a common foul after review), then returned to the line and converted on one of two, with the miss turning into a Daniel Theis put-back, cutting the Detroit lead to five. Unfortunately, the Pistons fended off this rally as well, keeping the Celtics at bay down to the closing minutes of the quarter.
With the game verging on getting out of hand as the end of regulation began to loom, the Celtics finally found some answers. They forced the Pistons into some tough misses, and tough drives by Brown and Tatum resulted in four quick points, this time trimming Detroit’s lead to four. Following a wild miss by Detroit’s Svi Mykhailiuk, Theis connected on a pair of free throws with two minutes to play to bring the Celtics within two points.
Jackson connected on a three-pointer for Detroit, followed by a Tatum layup on the other end to make Detroit’s lead just three points. But with 38 seconds remaining, the Pistons found their dagger — Saddiq Bey, the star of the evening, nailed a massive three-pointer that ultimately preserved Detroit’s lead for good. The Celtics played the free throw game for the waning seconds of the contest, but the Pistons connected at the charity stripe when they needed to, and came away the victors.
Next up, the Celtics travel to the nation’s capital to face off with the Washington Wizards. They’ll tip off at 1 PM EST on NBA TV.