Well, it wasn’t going to last forever. It is a little poetic that the Celtics 8 game winning streak would be snapped by a team that had lost 6 in a row, but make no mistake about it, the Pistons right from the jump controlled this game and deserved to win. I’m sure there are some that are ready to start screaming “seee the streak meant nothing!! First good team they played and they lost!!” Shit happens all the time after a Celtics loss, but for the first time in two weeks we can say they played like shit and got the result that happens when you play like that. Playing on a back to back the Celts looked flat and you could tell they had heavy legs as the game went on, and while that still doesn’t excuse their effort and how they played, it does sort of explain how short everything was. Sure it sucks their streak is over, but it’s not like they haven’t already beaten this DET team twice, so while it’s disappointing, this shit happens. You have to make your shots to win on the road, and for a team that has been making everything for two weeks, they couldn’t buy a bucket. Add that with a Pistons team that played with great energy in an effort to stop a streak of their own, and that’s how you get a result like we had last night.
As you know, we don’t just write this blogs when things are awesome and we want to puff out our chest and talk shit. We face the music and take our medicine when they play like dogshit which is what we have to do this morning. That’s fine, let’s get started.
– It’s a weird thing that whenever Marcus Smart scores 18+ points the Celtics lose, it seems like with someone so offensively challenged that in the event he actually scores the team should actually do well. Despite the loss the one thing we can say about Marcus was he did not quit. His effort was there even with this being a B2B. He was the best Celtic on the floor in my opinion
I certainly don’t expect Smart to always go 5-7 from three, but there are things that I do feel like can translate to future games. For starters his defense, another 3 steals has Smart 5th in the NBA in that category, no Piston scored more than 1 FGM when being defended by Smart, and he was among the team leaders in rebounds. We learned that he can’t do everything himself, that other players are going to have to match his energy, but of the long list of things to be annoyed about with this performance last night, I’m not sure Smart is one of them.
– His shooting was rough, just 11-25, but offensively Kyrie did his best to carry the load finishing with 26/8/4
Just like with Smart, I was impressed with Kyrie’s dedication to the glass considering the front court they were playing, and while my heart skipped a beat when he was tripped by Reggie Jackson in transition, and defensively he didn’t really get cooked by anyone. His main matchup of Reggie Jackson only had 2 points on 20 possessions against Kyrie, and the only knock I could say was maybe things were a little too score first with him which has been rare during this streak. He finished with just 4 assists and 3 TOs, and that’ a much different story than what we’ve seen for him lately. When he is forced to take 25 shots like he did last night because nobody else on the team can score, we see this team fall into these sort of issues.
– Much like Kyrie, he wasn’t efficient with his 6-15 shooting, but Jayson Tatum did chip in with a respectable 17/8
with 11 of his 17 coming in the second half. He too did a great job on the boards, but that’s really where things stopped. Defensively Tatum had all sorts of problems with opponents going a combined 7-9 against him. Not much resistance there.
– Shout out Aron Baynes for his work in 18 minutes. On one end he went 4-6 which is all you can ask, and then on the defensive end he was by far the best option on either of the Pistons bigs. He held Drummond to just 4 points on 25 possessions and then Blake to just 2 points on 10 possessions and did now foul either of them. On a night where those dudes gave the Celtics all sorts of problems, Baynes more than held his own.
– Another opportunity, another block. No big deal
– Here’s something I bet you didn’t think would be true. The Celtics actually won the points in the paint battle 48-44. I know it surprised me when I saw it.
– The most obvious thing to kick us off in this section has to be the offense, or should I say the lack of offense. This team was due for a rough shooting night considering they are shooting like 70% every night and averaging like 250 points a game during the 8 game streak. I would say barely scoring over 100 and finishing with 41/27% splits played a pretty big role in this outcome, and that’s why they call it a make or miss league. You look down the list
and you have to just accept that it was simply one of those nights. To be honest it looked a hell of a lot like the early October Celtics didn’t it? On “open looks” both Mook and Kyrie went 2-5, Tatum went 1-4 and Hayward 0-2. On “wide open” looks Hayward was 0-3, Mook 0-3, and Tatum 0-2. Given how they have shot the ball over the last two weeks that certainly was not something I expected going in. Remember, these aren’t looks that were impacted by any defense, these were open and wide open shots which more often than not you imagine this team does much better with so try not to sweat it too much.
Normally this team comes out of the half and crushes the third quarter, last night it was a 30/28% quarter with 3 TOs while playing little defense. Then you think OK they had a strong close to the third quarter, got it to like 7, maybe they can use that as some momentum. The Celts then came out and shot 31/18% in the fourth with 3 more TOs. Finishing with 31/22% over the final 24 minutes is pathetic, and that’s where you start to think their heavy legs played an issue.
– This was the first time we really noticed the absence of Al Horford if only because it became clear this team could not stop either Pistons big on the block. Even if Drummond usually gives Horford trouble, you saw how easily someone like Blake Griffin just used his size and strength to get into the paint and either finish at the rim or get fouled and to me that was the difference in the game. While the Celtics were relying on tough jumpers, the Pistons could go back to the well whenever they wanted with that play. Blake finished 10-13 from the line and Drummond 7-9 and in my opinion they were the biggest factor.
– It felt like early October because the opposing teams guards feasted. Luke Kennard and Reggie Jackson combined to go 7-9 and then two reserve guards in Calderon and Langston Galloway outplayed both of the Celtics reserve guards. They combined to go 8-16 and Calderon had 8 assists in just 24 minutes, which is so annoying because I feel like he’s been tormenting me for decades.
– Quick check on the formula. Celts lost the rebounding battle 48-44 and gave up 48.8% shooting on the night. When things really come down to defense and rebounding, no surprise here they lost after seeing that.
– The thing that made this team so successful during this streak was the ball movement. They’d been sharing the ball so much better and as a result have been rewarded by the Basketball Gods. Well last night they finished with just 19 assists which is almost half as many as we’ve been used to recently and it just didn’t feel like the ball was moving enough. It did in that first quarter where they dropped 33, but from then on it was way too much isolation and not enough extra passing.
– Marcus Smart talked about it postgame and he’s right. Over their last handful of games, the defense has sneaky stunk. Giving up 125 points to the Wizards, then 108 to the Hawks, and now 113 to the Pistons. That is not the level of defense we have come to expect from this team. Over the 8 game streak they held just 2 teams to under 100 and those were CLE and CHI, not exactly world beaters. This team knows they cannot rely on the hot shooting they’ve had and that if they are going to continue to win they need to get back to playing elite level defense, something that the offense and the winning has been able to mask because it has not been there. Another area I feel like not having Horford for is hurting them.
– Listen, this was still a winnable game despite being on a back to back so don’t let them off the hook so easily. This game was tied 9 times and had 17 lead changes, the Celtics had their opportunities to get stops and start a run and it never happened. That’s on them. Yes the Pistons are pretty good, but they have been losers of 6 straight before this game. You had guys like Reggie Bullock make 4 3PMs for just the third time all season, where was that defense? He had missed the previous 5 or so games and you’re going to just let him come in and be that in rhythm?
– This blog is nothing if not fair, and if I wanted to praise Jaylen for his strong play recently, I also have to acknowledge now that in back to back games he’s been pretty bad. Really bad to be honest. I don’t know what that sickness did to him, but he’s just 3-17 since coming back and just like with Jayson Tatum, he couldn’t stop a nosebleed. Opponents shot a combined 6-12 against him, and when both of the young studs are going to be that much of a negative on defense and then not efficient on offense, it’s a problem. Between the two of them Pistons shot 13-21 which is unacceptable and you look at Jaylen’s approach and he’s still not aggressive enough. He only took 4 shots and 2 of them came in the paint so it’s more of a situation where if he isn’t going to defend, and isn’t going to consistently attack, he plays empty minutes.
This is where the anti Jaylen crowd are rubbing their nipples, but it’s been a tough run for them so it’s fine to let them have their fun. This is what they live for. The fact of the matter is this team is completely different when Jaylen is engaged, and part of me looks to Brad for that. You made this lineup change, you know you have an advantage with that second unit going up against reserves, and outside of Robert Williams, Jaylen had the lowest FGA of any bench player that played at least 18 minutes. Most of the offense went through Hayward/Terry and they weren’t getting it done, so why not run some stuff to get Jaylen some easy looks? He took 1 FGA in the second half, that’s not nearly enough.
– I know the Celtics play aggressive defense and as a result they foul a shit ton, but if you eliminate like 4 of the hack-a-Drummond fouls, the Pistons still shot 31 FTA and I think that’s a big part of why the Celts couldn’t ever get a run going. Every other time down they were committing fouls. To me that’s lazy defense (unless it was Mook who had no choice on the block), and we know when this team can defend without fouling it makes all the difference.
– Another Brad critique is why he only gave Robert Williams 10 minutes. Post defense and rebounding was clearly a difference, and for a guy that had a 77 Drtg in this game, why not give him an extended run? Part of me feels like Mook didn’t have the legs because of how often he had to guard a big, so why not give Williams more of a run? Why not give Semi a couple cracks at it since he has the body of a Greek God and can match up with literally any position? I found that to be an interesting decision from Brad.
Thankfully, the sky is not falling. This team is still playing some of the best basketball in the league despite the loss, and they have an opportunity for a nice tune up game on Wednesday against PHX before the real test in MIL next Friday. Maybe this was actually a good thing, to lose now and remember to get back to the basics so things are ironed out before Giannis comes to town. Sucks to lose when they’ve been on such a roll, but like I said, shit happens