The Celtics host the Detroit Pistons for the first of 3 games this season. They will meet again in Boston on March 18 and then again in Detroit, 4 days later, on March 22. The Celtics won the series 4-0 last season and have won their last 6 meetings with the Pistons. The Celtics are 250-140 overall all time against the Pistons and they are 40-14 at home.
The Celtics remain in 1st place in the East. They are 1 game ahead of 2nd place Milwaukee, 2.5 games ahead of 3rd place Philadelphia and 5.5 games ahead of 4th place Orlando. They are 14-0 at home and 8-2 in their last 10 games. They are 19-4 against Eastern Conference opponents. They have won their last 3 games.
The Detroit Pistons are last in the East. They are 21.5 games behind the Celtics. They are 3.5 games behind 14th place Washington and 11 games out of 10th place and play in contention. They are 1-14 on the road and they are 0-10 in their last 10 games. They are 2-19 against Eastern Conference opponents. They have lost 27 straight games and now hold the record for most consecutive losses in a single season.
The Pistons just completed a home and home set against the Nets. After this game they return home for a game against the Raptors and then they have a 4 game road trip through Houston, Utah, Golden State and Denver, so things don’t get much easier for them. The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games. They play Toronto on Friday at home and then they face San Antonio and Oklahoma City on the road.
For the Celtics, Svi Mykhailiuk is probable with a heel contusion. Lamar Stevens is probable with a non-covid illness. Jaylen Brown has been listed as out with a back contusion after taking a knee to the back from LeBron James on Monday. Jayson Tatum was originally listed as questionable but is now expected to play. I’m guessing that Hauser will start in Brown’s place.
For the Pistons, Killian Hayes is probable with a non covid illness. Ausar Thompson is also probable with a non-covid illness. Monte Morris is out with a quad injury. Isaiah Stewart is out with a toe injury. Since Ausar Thompson is probable, I’m going to guess that he will get the start in place of the injured Isaiah Stewart.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Derrick White
SF: Sam Hauser
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Kristaps Porzingis
2 Way Players
Svi Mykhailiuk(heel) available
Lamar Stevens (illness) available
Jayson Tatum (ankle sprain management) available
Jaylen Brown (back contusion) out
Probable Pistons Starters
PG: Cade Cunningham
SG: Jaden Ivey
SF: Bojan Bogdanovic
PF: Ausar Thompson
C: Jalen Duren
Kevin Knox II
Two Way Players
Monte Morris (quad) out
Isaiah Stewart (toe) out
Ausar Thompson (illness) probable
Killian Hayes (illness) probable
Jrue Holiday vs Cade Cunningham
Cunningham is averaging 23 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal per game. He is shooting 44.5% from the field and 33.1% from beyond the arc. He is coming off a 41 point game on Tuesday and so the Celtics need to defend him well as he is capable of having a big game.
Oshae Brissett vs Bojan Bogdanovic
Bogdanovic is averaging 19.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1 steal per game. He is shooting 46.6% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc. As I said above, I’m not sure who will start here so Brissett is just a guess.
Kristaps Porzingis vs Jalen Duren
Duren is averaging 12.5 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. He is shooting 62.3% from the field and does not shoot from the perimeter. The Celtics need to box him out and keep him out of the paint.
Keys to the Game
Defense – Defense will always be key to winning every game. The Celtics are 5th in the league with a 110.5 defensive rating while the Pistons are 26th with a defensive rating of 119.0. The Pistons are 28th in the league, averaging 109.3 points per game. The Celtics have to come into this game with the mindset that they need to play tough defense and not underestimate the Pistons, who have a lot of young and hungry players and, in spite of their 27 game losing streak, if the Celtics don’t take them seriously, the Pistons may surprise them.
Rebound – Rebounding is important to give the Celtics extra possessions and to limit possessions for their opponents. The Celtics are averaging 47.0 rebounds per game (2nd) while the Pistons are averaging 43.3 rebounds (20th). 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. The Celtics should not underestimate this Pistons team because they are very hungry for a win and so if the Celtics lose focus they may just get beat.
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 are at the bottom of the league and are on a historic losing streak. 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, especially playing short handed, they could be surprised by a loss.
Pitiful Pistons – The Celtics are back at home and they need come out ready to protect home court. Young teams often struggle on the road and hopefully the Garden will be loud and will be able to distract the young Pistons team who also have to face the distractions of travel. The Celtics will possibly be short handed if Tatum and Brown are out, and so every player has to step up their game, even against the team at the bottom of the East. Too often we have seen the Celtics relax and let up and lose to teams they should absolutely beat.
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 the no calls and bad calls to affect their focus on playing the game.