DETROIT — Celtics started the evening with 4 straight wins on the road. The Pistons came into the night having won 5 straight on their home court. Someone's streak would be broken and it would happen during the Celtics' first ESPN-broadcasted game of the season.
So — the question is, do the Celtics need more ESPN or does ESPN need more Celtics? Perhaps, both. Either way, this was Isaiah Thomas' night. He could not be contained. He had a season high 34 points, scoring 10 points in a row in the 4th quarter.
Boston outscored Detroit by 35 points when Thomas was on the court and after all was said and done, 73 of the Celtics' 113 points came from Boston's bench.
Four other Celtics joined Thomas in double digits on the night: Bass, 16 | Bradley, 11 | Crowder, 17 and Olynyk, 12.
Despite the Pistons shooting over 53% FG, Boston had 91 points through 3 quarters and the Celtics were near perfect from the line, holding off Detroit's advances in the 2nd half.
For Detroit, Greg Monroe didn't appear to struggle fitting back into the offense with 12 points and 5 rebounds in the 1st half. He finished the night with 19 points and 10 boards.
You're welcome, ESPN.
CELTICS Smart, Bradley, Turner, Bass and Zeller
PISTONS Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Butler, Monroe* and Drummond
*Greg Monroe made his return to the court since missing 11 games with a strained knee.
Celtics defense did some good work including a couple of picks by Turner and Zeller stopping Drummond inside but temporarily, Detroit's hustle put them up 14-8, making their first 14 points in the paint. Thomas, Crowder and Olynyk joined the line-up before the 6 minute mark. Crowder quickly banked in a jumper. After being called for his second foul, Drummond checked out of the game. The Celtics went ahead on a three from Bradley at the 3 minute mark as part of a 9-2 run. The sprint continued for the second part of the quarter, 22-2 in favor of Boston including a deep sky hook from Jonas Jerebko and on an exclamation point via an Isaiah Thomas 3-pointer. Celtics led 30-16 to finish the 1st and Isaiah Thomas led all scorers. Monroe had 6 points and 2 rebounds so far in his return. Celtics shot 55% to Detroit's 35%. 17 points from Boston's bench and zero points yet from the Piston's bench.
Aggressive play from Celtics — notably Olynyk and Crowder — and sloppy play from the Pistons kicked off the 2nd quarter. C's had 10 points off turnovers with 9 minutes left in the half. Both teams were perfect from the line thus far. A deep two from Crowder put the Celtics up by 11 but the once 16 point lead was cut in half by the midway point of the quarter. Jared Sullinger's made free throws were his first points since returning from his February-incurred injury and made Boston's lead double digits again. One-time Celtic, Tayshaun Prince made some noise with 6 points. The Pistons shot 76% for the quarter. At the end of two, the Celtics had an 8-point lead, 55-47. C's were 18/18 from the foul line. Isaiah Thomas with 11 points and 4 assists.
Kelly Olynyk would get the start in the 3rd (Zeller went 1/5 in the 1st half). Avery Bradley opened the quarter with a wide open three. Celtics scored 9 points to start the first minute & half of the quarter and pushed the lead to 13. At the 9 minute mark, Brandon Bass led C's scorers with 14. A 9-2 run by Detroit brought them within 6 before hitting the halfway point. Make that a 13-2 run until Bradley made one, fed from Bass. Detroit's Monroe already has 17 points. Even better? Thomas had 16 points on just 5 attempts. Andre Drummond rolled with ease for a dunk and he and Monroe were 14 for 22 combined. Lots of Thomas driving to the basket and trips to the line (19 points with 2 minutes left in the 3rd) and another Crowder shot off the glass (and one) put Boston back up 12 in a 16-4 run by the C's. Thomas was unstoppable in the 3rd quarter at the time having scored 24 points (13 in the 3rd quarter). It was a 2-point Boston lead when Thomas & Crowder (13 points) came into the game. The 3rd ended with the Celtics up 17, their largest lead of the night. Boston had 91 points through 3 quarters and all players in green to see the floor had scored.
The 4th started slow for Boston with 4 points in just under 4 minutes. A Thomas three matched by a Meeks three meant a 14-point lead for the Celtics. Thomas had 31 points with more than 7 minutes still to play and making the night his career high scoring. Once Detroit cut the lead to 1-point, the Celtics responded going on a 32-16 run. Isaiah scored 10 points in a row for Boston, bringing his total to 34. Celtics visited the free throw line often and were 31/32 from the line, Crowder made 2 more to go 7/7 himself. With five minutes left in the game, the Celtics had scored 107 points. Kelly Olynyk stayed with a miss around the rim down low and his patience paid off for two. Drummond was busy for Detroit with 22 points and 13 rebounds with 3 minutes to play. A three from Prince put the Pistons within 10. Back-to-back missed three's from each team kept the lead at 10 for the C's. A Tyler Zeller basket pushed it to a 12-point lead with 45 seconds to go.
Final Score: Celtics 113, Pistons 103
Up next: Celtics head to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers for the first game of a home & home this weekend.
Photo credit: Duane Burleson
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