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Celtics finally finish season series against the Pistons with 114-103 win

This is the best version of Jayson Tatum we’ve ever seen.

Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Boston Celtics fans collectively breathed a sigh of relief after the final buzzer sounded – the season series between the Celtics and the mighty Detroit Pistons has finally concluded. Boston’s played Detroit 3 times in the last 30 days, and each time, the Pistons have been peskily competitive and gritty for a team at the bottom of the standings. First, the Pistons broke the 9-game winning streak right before the All-Star break. Then the Celtics got their revenge in an annoyingly tough game, and tonight, the Celtics overcame Detroit’s hot shooting to win 114-103. The final score doesn’t reflect how well the Pistons played through three quarters before the wheels fell off in the fourth.

No Pistons in the playoffs, thankfully.

For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum (31 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists) continued the absolute tear that he’s on, and it highlights an important truth that bodes well for this season – Tatum always percolates toward the end of winter each season, but this version of him at his best is the very best we’ve ever seen him play. He’s hitting, well, everything with relative ease.

Aiding him tonight was Marcus Smart (20 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals), who continues to flourish in the starting PG role, Derrick White 11 points, 4 rebounds), who looks increasingly comfortable in the offense this road trip, and, of course, Tatum’s co-star Jaylen Brown (22 points, 8 rebounds) who had a strong second quarter of action.

Cade Cunningham (27 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) continued his ascension as he led the Pistons with controlled playmaking and pace all night long. He’s really going to turn into that guy. In fact, he might already be that guy with how he played in the third quarter. Filling in for the injured Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III (20 points, 11 rebounds) performed admirably, demonstrating some of the potential expected of the former No. 2 overall pick that led Detroit to take him on from Sacramento. Jerami Grant chipped in 20 points as well.

It’s incredibly frustratinge how Detroit raises its level of play each time against the Celtics, but you can tell that the win against Boston from a few weeks ago energized the team, especially with recent wins over other other competition. That fire endured for 3 quarters tonight against Boston.

Boston didn’t play particularly poorly in the first half despite the Pistons entering halftime with the lead. They were just playing out of their mind. Cade Cunningham injects a ton of energy into the team when he keeps the ball zipping. Boston’s defense wasn’t poor in scheme, but the execution left a bit to be desired. Detroit was playing out of its mind, sure, but they were comfortable out there at times before the Celtics turned it up a notch in the third quarter. It got to a point, however, where Cunningham carved the team up no matter how intense the defense got.

To start the fourth quarter, key defensive stops with quick hands disrupted Detroit in a major way while Cunningham sat on the bench. The Celtics ran out in transition and opened up the lead with a swiftness. That stretch to start the period just demonstrated how much that young team in Detroit relies on its No. 1 pick already because they fell apart without him handling the ball. A quick 7-0 start had the rookie back in the game expeditiously.

Unfortunately for Detroit, Cunningham had no legs left after carrying the team through three quarters. Boston’s defense went from passable to elite within the span of minutes. Detroit had to WORK for everything in the fourth, and that was the winning formula for a team that’s relied on defense in 2022 for all of its success. Despite shooting 6-32 from behind the 3-point line, the Celtics were able to pull out a gritty win against a pesky team. It probably helped that the Pistons didn’t score a field goal in the fourth quarter until 30 seconds left in the game.

The Celtics play next on Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks. Even though Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be suited up, the biggest star in the building will be Kevin Garnett on the afternoon of his jersey retirement. Hopefully the Celtics can reward his services over the years with a nice win against a playoff team.

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