Final, Pistons 87-77: This one could have people talking on Monday, if people are so inclined to talk about the Celtics the day after an NFL Sunday.
Jeff Green did not log a millisecond of floor time in the fourth quarter and the Celtics unraveled down the stretch for the third straight game. Locked in a tight game in the final minute, the Celtics turned the ball over on three straight possessions to effectively hand the Pistons the victory.
Greg Monroe led an even Detroit attack with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Just about everyone willing to get into the paint for the Pistons had himself a day, though. Andre Drummond also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Josh Smith finished with 15 points and seven boards.
Kelly Olynyk put up 15 points and hauled in nine boards as the Celtics had a few moments of promise. They did wipe out a 15-point lead to lead by two points in the fourth quarter, but their own carelessness did them in. Avery Bradley was public enemy No. 1 with six of the team’s 23 turnovers.
The Celtics are right back at it again Monday in Memphis, an opponent that will not go lightly on a wounded opponent.
Fourth quarter, :35.8, Pistons 85-77: If the Celtics lose this one, it’s deserved.
The Celtics turned the ball over on three straight possessions, then Avery Bradley nearly threw the ball away on a fourth as the Pistons put a cushion between themselves and Boston.
And still Jeff Green is glued to the bench.
Fourth quarter, 2:12, Pistons 79-77: Maybe it is because Kelly Olynyk is playing well or because Brad Stevens likes a matchup with Brandon Bass and Gerald Wallace more, but Jeff Green has yet to get off the bench in this fourth quarter.
The Celtics are on a 10-2 run to cut the Pistons’ lead to two points. Bass delivered a tough turnaround jumper in the lane, Olynyk slammed home another Bass miss and Avery Bradley hit the uncontested jumper from the right wing to pull the Celtics within one possession.
All this has happened with Green on the bench. Interesting.
Fourth quarter, 4:55, Pistons 77-67: The Celtics got their run in, but the Pistons have taken theirs now.
Josh Smith attacked the hoop for a running hook shot, an unstoppable shot if he asserts himself and takes it consistently. The Celtics have fallen into another rut on offense thanks to Rodney Stuckey hounding the ball handler.
As we’ve said dozens of times, when the other team pressures the Celtics’ point man, the Celts are at a huge disadvantage. The Celtics are struggling to get good shots and look disjointed in the half court.
Fourth quarter, 5:59, Pistons 73-67: It’s a foot-shooting contest at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Midway through the fourth quarter, these teams have combined for 38 turnovers. The Celtics might be doing a bit better (worse?) job of shooting themselves in the foot, though, thanks to some questionable decisions by Jordan Crawford, who also received a technical foul to boot.
The Pistons seem inclined not to make the Celtics pay for their miscues, however, and are making quite a few of their own. Greg Monroe schooling Kelly Olynyk and then missing a layup was an excellent indication of that.
Fourth quarter, 8:46, Pistons 68-65: We’ve got ourselves a game again.
With a corner 3-pointer in transition, Avery Bradley knotted up the score at 63-all, and Jared Sullinger gave the Celtics the lead with a pair of free throws on the next possession. The Pistons were able to reclaim the lead, thanks in part to a nifty bounce pass from Brandon Jennings at the top of the key to a slashing Kyle Singler for an and-one layup.
The Celtics have come back from a 15-point lead for the second time in three games. That feels little bit better than blowing a 22-point lead, but these wild swings cannot be good for Brad Stevens’ blood pressure.
End of third quarter, Pistons 63-58: With the Celtics not looking like they’d offer much resistance, the Pistons sort of went into cruise control in the third quarter. They might have relaxed a bit too soon.
The Celtics turned up their intensity on defense, forcing nine turnovers in the third quarter after getting just seven in the first two quarters combined. They also got a bit more stingy on the glass, holding the Pistons to four offensive rebounds in the frame after giving up seven offensive rebounds in the first half.
Turnovers and rebounds are two areas the Celtics must win — or at least do better in — if they hope to stay competitive with any teams, never mind big, shot-happy squads like the Pistons.
Third quarter, 7:18, Pistons 56-44: When Jeff Green gets aggressive on offense, the Celtics have a chance.
The problem is, a lot of the time that’s “if,” not “when.”
Green did show some aggression when he got the ball on the right wing with guard Will Bynum guarding him. He took the smaller defender right to the hole and finished an and-one bank shot over Andre Drummond to give one of the Celtics’ few productive offensive possessions in this half.
The overall results have not been great for Boston, though. They cannot crack within double digits as the Pistons keep crashing the glass and beating the Celtics to every loose ball.
Third quarter, 10:04, Pistons 52-37: Just two minutes after breaking the huddle for halftime, Brad Stevens needed a timeout to talk things over again.
Aside from a basket by Vitor Faverani, the Celtics have not gotten a thing out of the break — while the Pistons have opened up their largest lead of the game. It’s not a good sign when just a few minutes after going over some adjustments in the locker room, the Celtics already need a refresher.
Halftime, Pistons 45-35: Jordan Crawford gave the Celtics an early boost off the bench, but that might end up being the worst thing for the Celtics.
Crawford got a bit too into himself at the end of the second quarter, taking two ill-advised jumpers on the Celtics’ last three possessions. Since he and Courtney Lee gave the Celtics that little boost to pull within three, the Celtics have been outscored 21-14, even though Crawford leads the team with nine points.
Andre Drummond is just two rebounds shy of a double-double already with 10 points and eight rebounds, but he’s not the only Pistons big man enjoying himself tonight. Josh Smith and Greg Monroe have combined for 16 points and eight rebounds. Detroit as a team is winning the rebounding battle 27-15.
The inability to generate some halfcourt offense is, once again, a big problem for the Celtics. They have just four assists, not just because they are shooting 36 percent, but because the lack of playmakers has made it tough for the Celtics to get easy shots.
Second quarter, 3:00, Pistons 41-30: It’s one thing for the Celtics to get scored on inside. With the trifecta of Drummond, Monroe and Smith, Detroit is going to do its damage inside.
Letting the Pistons get extra opportunities because of offensive rebounding is another thing entirely. The Pistons now have 10 offensive boards to the Celtics’ three, leading to 10 extra scoring chances.
After a tough defensive sequence, the Celtics looked on as Detroit gobbled up the offensive board. Then the Pistons executed a pretty pick and roll play that ended with Drummond coming off the weak side for a baseline dunk.
Second quarter, 5:29, Pistons 35-28: Olynyk might not be the most polished defensive player, but he is trying. The rookie has his hands in passing lanes and was very aggressive pursuing a pass on the perimeter, knocking a pass by Will Bynum out of bounds.
Olynyk is still far from a perfect fundamental defender, as is Vitor Faverani. But their length and energy makes up for at least some of their technical shortcomings. Faverani has just one blocked shot in 10 minutes tonight, but he’s already shown his ability to trouble a lot of shots on defense.
Second quarter, 8:13, Pistons 29-23: We all know Jared Sullinger is a great rebounder. His per-minute statistics suggest he might be one of the best in the NBA.
If he’s always paired with Kelly Olynyk, however, it might be hard to see Sullinger’s impact truly pay off. So far, the rookie looks decidedly less than average on the glass. He simply watched as Kyle Singler ran past him to get an offensive rebound off a missed foul shot, and he fumbled a potential defensive rebound out of bounds.
The Celtics finally have a bit of a size advantage with Olynyk and Sullinger on the court and Monroe and Smith both on the bench, and the Celtics tried to capitalize by going inside. Olynyk and Sullinger both missed post-up layups, but the simple fact that they tried is a good sign for the Celtics.
End of first quarter, Pistons 24-21: The Celtics still don’t have much of an answer inside, especially when Josh Smith decides he’s not going to settle for outside jumpers. But the Celtics’ backup backcourt did its best to keep things close.
Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford came into the game and injected a spark into the Celtics, combining for nine points in five minutes to help close the eight-point gap.
Brandon Jennings made his first appearance, rocking a clear plastic facemask to protect his recently healed broken jaw. The injury did not rob him of his aggressiveness, obviously, as he took two quick shots after coming onto the floor.
First quarter, 5:38, Pistons 14-6: Aside from power forward, where Greg Monroe towers over and outweighs Brandon Bass, the Celtics are not terribly undersized against Detroit’s front line. In fact, Jeff Green is listed at about 10 pounds heavier than Josh Smith, although the former Hawk has played more of a front-line role in the past.
Still, the Celtics are definitely at a disadvantage in the frontcourt, where all three Pistons players are capable of mixing it up inside. Monroe in particular is capitalizing on his matchup with four interior buckets, while Andre Drummond has been sneaky at getting near the hoop for dunks out of pick and rolls.
Vitor Faverani has been the Celtics’ only real scoring threat early with four of the team’s six points. Green and Avery Bradley have settled for jump shots and are 1-for-6 combined as a result.
5:20 p.m.: The Celtics’ backcourt will have another obstacle on Sunday.
Brandon Jennings, who was uncertain for this game due to a fractured jaw and impacted wisdom tooth that still prevent him from eating solid foods, will play. He won’t start, but he will be available off the bench.
Jennings’ availability will make life that much more diffucult for the Celtics. The absence of Rajon Rondo was pronounced in the first two games, with the Celtics struggling to run their offense without a proven, primary ballhandler. Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green shared Avery Bradley’s duties bringing the ball up, yet their results weren’t much better.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: Dee-Troit. Basket-baaaaaaaall.
Coming off a tough-luck loss the Grizzlies on the road, the Pistons (1-1) return to The Palace of Auburn Hills to host the Celtics (0-2), who know a thing or two about tough-luck losses after Friday’s defeat to the Bucks.
While the Celtics attempt to regroup after blowing a 22-point lead against Milwaukee, the Pistons could be getting healthy again. Rodney Stuckey returned from a car door-related mishap against the Griz and Brandon Jennings has a chance to play against the Celtics. Combining Jennings to a lineup that features the fearsome front line of Josh Smith, Andre Drummong and Greg Monroe means the Celtics might be in for a long night down low.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. ET.