1. The Boston Celtics didn’t destroy the Detroit Pistons, but they still won by double-digits on the road. Even against a beat-up and bad team, that’s a solid win. The best way to term this one is business-like.
Detroit hung around for a half, and then Jayson Tatum created some separation in the third quarter. The Pistons made a run early in the fourth, but never truly threatened. From there, the Celtics regained full control and closed it out.
No one is going to get too excited about a win over Detroit, not with games against the Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks looming before the All-Star break. But these ones count for the same amount in the standings. That means taking care of business is still something to be satisfied with.
2. Derrick White got Boston off and running early. A one-dribble fastbreak would have had Tommy Heinsohn out of his seat, chortling with glee. White finished it with the nice lob to Rob Williams:
White has some of that sneaky athleticism that surprises you when he breaks it out. This was a great cut when Jayson Tatum drew two, and an outstanding finish for the and-1:
This game turned into a spin-move showcase for Boston. White got to a nice lefty and-1 off the spin here:
A little later, with the Pistons perhaps wary of the spin-move, White used a spin-back to leave Killian Hayes in the dust for the layup:
3. We asked a few questions about certain items pregame. One was if Sam Hauser could get going with being inserted into the starting lineup to replace an ill Jaylen Brown.
Yes. Yes, he could get going.
Derrick White did a good job here of being patient to let Hauser get to his spot in transition:
A couple of trips later, with the Pistons in cross-match hell, Jayson Tatum got into the lane before kicking it to Hauser:
By the end of the half, Hauser has the confidence flowing. This is a bad pass from Tatum, but Hauser catches it low and rises immediately into his jumper:
This one is great, because the defender is close. But when the defender doesn’t get a hand up, Hauser goes right into his shot:
4. Over a five-minute stretch in the latter half of the third quarter, Jayson Tatum took over the game. He got in on the spin-move showcase:
This drive is one of those “I’m bigger, faster, stronger and better than you” moves:
Of course, when Tatum has it going, you know you are getting the classic step-back:
Those of us from the 80s and 90s will appreciate that sometimes you just have to “hit ‘em with the finger roll”:
5. With Jaylen Brown sidelined due to illness, another focal point were the non-Tatum minutes. Boston was only -4 without Jayson Tatum, but that’s not telling the whole story. When Tatum rested to open the fourth quarter, things got really messy.
Tatum got 4:06 of rest to open the final period. The Pistons outscored the Celtics by a 14-3 margin during that stretch.
With or without Jaylen Brown, the Celtics continue to have a problem when Tatum rests. Logging nearly 40 minutes to beat one of the NBA’s worst teams isn’t something Boston should continue to have to ask of their superstar.
6. One thing was encouraging was Boston did some nice work against Detroit when they sent two players at Jayson Tatum late in the game.
On this play, Tatum gets the ball a little late, but he sees the second defender coming. Derrick White lets it fly to beat the clock:
On this play, Tatum invites the double-team. Again, the ball ends up with White. No jumper this time, as White drove and went back to the spin-move again:
7. Rob Williams was outstanding in this game. He finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. The offensive boards were part of Williams cleaning up messes for what felt like the entire game.
In the fourth quarter, Williams had a pair of big putbacks. His timing and soft touch at the rim are remarkable:
Williams also has an incredible knack for reading airballs. It seems like he makes at least a play or two like this per game:
8. The last of our three pre-game queries was wondering who would get the fourth-big minutes, and how many of them, with Luke Kornet out due to a sprained ankle. As expected, the answer was Blake Griffin. He logged 13 productive minutes, despite not putting up an eye-popping stat-line.
Griffin continues to make the hustle plays and to do the dirty work. He took a charge, set a million screens and handled a lot of the boxing out. And, because he always does, Griffin came up with a ball to save a possession for Boston:
9. With Jaylen Brown out, Joe Mazzulla went to a few more set plays than usual. He continues to draw up calls that get Boston good looks on ATOs. This set has some really good floor balance, but what’s important is Payton Pritchard staying rooted to his spot. With Jayson Tatum going to the opposite wing, he’s going to pull the defense. As Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams work the middle pick-and-roll, with Blake Griffin in the dunker spot, Pritchard ends up open:
This one is another Mazzulla favorite. Tatum comes off the staggered screen. Hauser pops to the corner, while Rob Williams uses the traffic to slip to the rim. Jalen Duren can’t help off Al Horford too early from the corner, or Williams will kick it out on the short roll. Even Derrick White staying so high takes Killian Hayes out of help position. It’s just perfect play design and the players reacting to an on-the-fly play-call:
10. The Celtics now head back home to welcome the 76ers. That’s a big game, as Philadelphia is only two behind Boston in the loss column. That’s also the final game before Thursday’s trade deadline, so there’s bound to be a lot of roster-related intrigue heading into that one for both teams too.