Boston Celtics (3-2) @ Detroit pistons (0-4)
7:00, NBC Sports Boston
James Capers (#19), Scott Wall (#31), Suyash Mehta (#82)
Boston: Javonte Green (Out, Health and Safety Protocols), Romeo Langford (Out, right wrist surgery rehab), Kemba Walker (Out, left knee strengthening)
Detroit: Blake Griffin (Out, Concussion Protocol), Killian Hayes (Questionable, right ankle sprain), Frank Jackson (Out, not with team), Jahlil Okafor, (Probable, right ankle sprain)
Spread: Boston -8.5
Money Line: Boston -365, Detroit +295
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Icon Edition vs. Statement Edition
This is the first of two straight games in Detroit for the Celtics. They play again Sunday at 3 PM.
3 Things to watch for
1. The mindset
After the blowout win over Memphis, Brad Steven praised the team’s approach to the game.
“I thought the energy we played with as a team led to the ball going in in a good way,” he said. “We came out with the right mentality coming out of yesterday. Yesterday was a hard-fought game, first back-to-back of the year, knowing we’re heading back to the Midwest tomorrow after getting back last night. I just think there’s a lot of reasons why we could have been a little bit sloppy and we didn’t. That’s a good sign.”
The Celtics are certainly not alone in their tendency to sometimes play down to competition, so coming out strong against a shorthanded team is certainly a nice sign. They’re facing a bad Detroit team that is without Blake Griffin, and the Celtics might be feeling themselves a little after two straight wins. If they come out strong again, then it will be another great signal that, while this team is still figuring itself out, they still possess a focus that will serve them well this season.
The unfortunate aspect of this is that it’s hard to tell if that focus is going to be there until the ball is tipped.
“Some days it looks like you had a great shoot around and then you come out and lay an egg,” Stevens said. “Other days you don’t look like you’re going to have it, and all of a sudden you find this level, and there’s a reason why you don’t always come out with that – it’s because everybody’s human.”
2. Double big start?
Tristan Thompson missed Wednesday night’s game as the Celtics rested him on the back to back. If he’s available, does he start against the Pistons, or does Brad Stevens go back to Theis as the starter?
Personally, I see them going double big because it allows both Theis and Thompson to get minutes while finding a role for Robert Williams. Williams has been playing well lately, and he’s crediting Thompson for helping him do that.
“I changed my mental approach. I feel like Tristan Thompson helped everyone change their mental approach,” Williams said. “He’s a warrior, he makes all his teammates better and you see the way that he’s striving and he makes you want to strive better so I commend him on that as far as me changing my mental approach.”
3. Can Jaylen Brown keep it rolling?
Brown shot 71.4% from the field against Memphis. I think it’s safe to say he won’t do that again, but it will be fun to see if he can carry some of that over into this game.
1 Thing I’d like to see
More development time
I’m hoping for a low-pressure situation for Aaron Nesmith to get back into this game and continue some development. It’s up to the Celtics to come out with that same fire and hopefully stomp the Pistons so Nesmith can see the floor. With the schedule being what it is, getting garbage time reps is all Nesmith can hope for.
“They’re all working really hard. We don’t get the chance to practice right now,” Stevens said before the game. “This stretch is such that you just can’t. So we are doing our team work in the video rooms, we’re doing our team work in meetings. We’re doing our team work in shootarounds when we can have them, but those are really, really limited timeframes. So a lot of the stuff they are doing is individual or in small groups and they’ve done that religiously, they’re working hard at it, but you know, this is the NBA. There’s really good players ahead of you sometimes, and so it’s not just about how hard you’re working, and how much you’re improving. Sometimes it’s about health and opportunity through that, and sometimes you have to beat somebody out.”