Celtics fall to a much improved Pistons team in Boston, 118-108
Boston fell at home against the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference tonight, 118-108. It's clear the Pistons are a much better team than last year and with old friend Avery Bradley at the helm of the leadership of their squad, his presence and influence has clearly boosted the team.
There was no doubt about it that the Pistons came to play tonight, and they had themselves quite the first half, putting up 60 points on the best defense in the NBA. Boston started out cold in the first period and Detroit found themselves up 31-23 after the first quarter. However, the Celtics as usual fought back into the game on a 13-2 run and got themselves a brief lead in the 2nd quarter.
Unfortunately, the Pistons worked the pick-and-roll game very with Avery Bradley and Andre Drummond and Drummond got some very easy look inside the paint. Tobias Harris also heated up with 8 straight points for the Pistons and finished with a team high 15 in the first half. Drummond himself had a double double in the first half with 12 points and 14 rebounds. For the Celtics, Irving led the way with 14 points in the half, despite being smothered by Bradley on defense. Both teams shot very well but it was the Pistons that got the better of Boston in the half and led 60-57 going into the locker room.
Both teams came out of the locker at continued their high percentage shooting on offense, going back and forth. Tobias Harris really started to percolate and took over the game for Detroit. He added another 14 points in the 3rd period and had 29 by the end of the quarter. Celtics really had trouble keeping up with him off the pick-and-roll. Luckily, midway through the third, threes by Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum, plus a beautiful spinning layup by Smart tied the game at 77-77. The teams went into the final period tied at 86-86.
After exchanging some threes to start the quarter, Detroit started to pull ahead a bit thanks again to some foul trouble for the C's and the Ishe Smith and Andre Drummond pick-and-roll. However, Marcus Smart's hot shooting continued making two huge threes 15 seconds apart to put Boston up 100-99 with 6 minutes to go. Unfortunately for Boston, Andre Drummond began to exert his force on the offensive end and got inside at will against Boston's bigs.
The green team tried the "Hack-a-Shaq" with Drummond but he made them pay by hitting most of his free throws. With just over two minutes to go, the Celts made a little rally with a Smart three and Tatum bucket to make it a 112-108 game, but foul trouble once again caught up the Celtics and after some made free throws, the Pistons had this one in the bag. After some more missed shots due to some great Pistons defense, the Celtics just couldn't finish the game in the final period.
For the Celtics, Marcus Smart finished with 23 points on 8-13 from the field and 6-9 from three. His hot shooting is a great sign going forward. Kyrie Irving finished with 18 points and 9 assists but had a tough night shooting with Avery Bradley clamped down on him. For Detroit, Andre Drummond had a monster game with 26 points, 22 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals. Tobias Harris led the game with 31 points while Reggie Jackson added in 20 points as well.
Up next for the Celtics (18-4) is the 76ers at home on Thursday night. Tipoff is set for 7:30pm E/T.