The Celtics travel to Detroit to face the Pistons for the second time in the same week. These two teams faced off in Boston on Wednesday and the Celtics came away with a 128-112 win. This is the second of 4 meetings between these two teams this season. They will meet for a second time in Detroit on February 6 and for the second time in Boston on February 15.
This is the second of back to back games for both teams. The Celtics beat the Nuggets at home on Friday night while the Pistons played at the Knicks. This is the 3rd back to back set for the Celtics and they are 2-0 in the first two back to back games. Both of those games were on the road also. This is the fourth back to back set for the Pistons and they are 0-3 in the second of back to back games and 0-1 when the second game is at home.
The Pistons are 15th in the East and are coming off 2 losses. The Celtics are 3rd in the East, behind the Milwaukee Bucks and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and have won their last 5 games. The Celtics are 4-2 on the road while the Pistons are 3-3 at home. The Celtics can’t take them for granted because they beat them easily on Wednesday. The Pistons have a lot of hungry young players who want to win and will if the Celtics give them the opening to win.
Malcolm Brogdon missed Friday’s game with hamstring soreness and will be out for this game also. Robert Williams III (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) both remain out. Al Horford will miss the second half of the back to back with the back soreness that pops up every time the Celtics have back to back games. Jaylen Brown is questionable with a knee contusion he suffered on Friday night against the Nuggets. I’m going to guess that Luke Kornet will start at center. If Brown can’t go I would guess that either White or Hauser would get the start in his place.
For the Pistons, Cade Cunningham is out for the second straight game with shin soreness. He had an off game on Wednesday and it’s possible that his shin was bothering him then. Cory Joseph started on Friday night and will likely get the start once again. Marvin Bagley III has been working his way back from a knee sprain and is listed as probable to make his season debut in this game. Alec Burks has missed the season so far with a navicular fracture in his foot but returned for Friday’s game in New York.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Grant Williams
C: Luke Kornet
2 Way Players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Robert Williams III (knee) out
Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring) out
Al Horford (back) out
Jaylen Brown (knee) questionable
Head Coach (Interim)
Probable Pistons Starters
PG: Cory Joseph
SG: Jaden Ivey
SF: Saddiq Bey
PF: Bojan Bogdanovic
C: Isaiah Stewart
Kevin Knox II
2 Way Players
Marvin Bagley III (knee) probable
Cade Cunningham (shin) out
Jaylen Brown vs Jaden Ivey
Ivey was the Pistons best player in Wednesday’s game vs the Celtics. He finished the game with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal while shooting 50% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. He is averaging 15.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game. The Celtics need to be sure to slow him down in this game.
Jayson Tatum vs Saddiq Bey
Bey finished Wednesday’s game against the Celtics with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal. He is averaging 17.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. He is shooting 44.3% from the field and 31.9% from beyond the arc. The Celtics need Jayson Tatum to continue to play well on both ends of the court.
Grant Williams vs Bojan Bogdanovic
Bogdanovic finished Wednesday with 17 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. He shot 54.5% from the field but just 25% from beyond the arc. He is averaging 19.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He is shooting 48.7% from the field and 45.7% from beyond the arc. He may have had a tough game from the perimeter on Wednesday, but he is capable of hitting 3s and the Celtics need to stay with him beyond the arc.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense will always be key to winning every game. The Celtics are 22nd in the league with a 112.5 defensive rating while the Pistons are 30th with a defensive rating of 117.3. The Pistons are 26th in the league with 108.1 points per game. The Celtics have to come into this game with the mindset that they need to play tough defense. The Celtics have shown signs of playing the kind of defense that had them at the top of the league last season but they haven’t been consistent and so at times allow teams to score way too easily. They have to get back to making defense their priority.
Rebound - Rebounding is important to give the Celtics extra possessions and to limit possessions for their opponents. The Celtics are averaging 41.4 rebounds per game (22nd) while the Pistons are averaging 44.3 rebounds (17th). The Pistons are 10th in offensive rebounding with 12.0 per game and they are 5th with 16.2 second chance points per game. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics need to give extra effort to beat the Pistons to rebounds. When they show extra effort on the boards, it often shows up in other areas of the game as well.
Stay Focused - The Celtics must stay focused on playing the right way. They have to take care of the ball and they have to focus on making crisp passes and on careful ball handling. They also have to focus on taking good shots and making them. The Celtics have to come into the game focused and keep that focus throughout the game. Their offense has been very good, but they still lapse into iso ball from time to time and they need to avoid that and keep the ball moving.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics can’t come into the game expecting an easy game and to be able to take it easy on both ends of the court because the Pistons don’t have a good record. They have to come in and be aggressive on defense, on taking the ball to the basket, on diving for loose balls, on rebounding and on playing as a team. If they allow the Pistons to play harder than them, they could be surprised by a loss.
Back to Back Road Game - Both teams are playing in the 2nd back to back games. The Celtics are on the road and had to travel before the game. The Pistons are at home but also had to travel since Friday’s game was in New York. The Celtics need to continue to focus on the game and not allow the distractions of playing on the road or in front of a hostile crowd affect their focus or their play.
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 and not allow no calls and bad calls to affect their focus on playing the game. They especially need to keep their poise and not complain to the refs on every call.