In a nutshell
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Sometimes you go on a 17-0 run. Sometimes the 17-0 run goes on you. The Celtics picked up a quality win over Detroit, led by Jayson Tatum’s 19 points and Gordon Hayward’s 18 point, 8 assist performance. Al Horford added 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists as well.
What went right
- Attacking matchup advantages with reckless abandon has paid off for the Celtics. Just like they went at JJ Redick in Philadelphia, the Celtics were aggressive against Luke Kennard to open the game against Detroit. Boston has favored isolation play for a couple years now, but this is the first stretch where they look comfortable exploiting mismatches by using their muscle near the basket and not just settling for midrange shots.
- Boston went on an 18-0 run in the second quarter fueled by some classic drive-and-kick offense. Semi Ojeleye and Brad Wanamaker were shot a combined 3-3 from deep in that span. Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the quarter and Boston held onto a 57-52 lead at halftime.
- Marcus Smart went on a TEAR in the third quarter with four made threes in a row (he had missed his previous 20 attempts.) And that helped the Celtics WIN a third quarter! They outscored Detroit 34-20 and led 91-72 going into the fourth.
What went wrong
- Because karma is a real thing and it sucks, I was punished for writing my earlier paragraph about the Celtics driving to the basket. They stopped doing that shortly after my premature celebration. Furthermore, the interior defense crumbled with Horford out of the game, leaving Theis to check Andre Drummond. This led to a 17-0 Pistons run that was mercifully ended by a Semi Ojeleye three-pointer. Boston trailed 29-28 after the first quarter and they were fortunate to not be down by double digits.
- The Celtics got lazy with a big lead again. They let a 25 lead in the fourth quarter dwindle to 12 pretty quickly and had to work twice as hard to clean up their mess. It’s a pretty typical pattern as far as fourth quarters go for any team: instead of playing to win, you start playing to not lose. That kind of mentality is a disaster waiting to happen (again) and I’m hoping the Celtics can shake it off well before the playoffs start.
What the hell
- Daniel Theis was called for a technical foul because Andre Drummond ran into him at half court. Normally a physical altercation would be a flagrant while excessive use of language would be a tech. Since Theis was supposedly too physical, it’s pretty unclear why it was ruled a technical.
- The Pistons shot 34 free throws to Boston’s 15 (and that’s including some stupid late game garbage fouls from Detroit). And the Celtics were actually driving to the basket frequently in this game! We’ve been urging them to get to the rim more all year and it’s finally happening. Still, they can’t buy a free throw.
Sneaking this one in here: