Another road game, another thrilling comeback victory, this time it was the Oklahoma City Thunder who fell victim to the Pistons fourth quarter heroics. Detroit has been winning the hard way, and while these comebacks are indeed thrilling, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat isn’t exactly sustainable (especially on the road against playoff caliber opponents).
The Pistons have trailed after the first quarter in ten of their first eighteen games (winning six), they’ve trailed going into the fourth quarter nine times (winning four), and have won a league high seven games when trailing by 10+ points, including their last two road victories.
Test this formula against the league leading Boston Celtics at the TD Garden, and even the most die-hard of Pistons fans would be surprised if Detroit escaped with a win.
When: November 27, 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachussetts
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
During the off-season, Celtics’ general manager Danny Ainge implemented a bold strategy, replacing four of their five starters, that had just lead Boston to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. He also did not re-sign many of the regular rotation players.
Ainge traded away the number one overall pick to acquire Jayson Tatum (and a future future round pick), swapped Jae Crowder, the infamous Brooklyn Nets 2018 pick, and MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Iriving, and signed marquee free agent Gordon Hayward. Oh yeah, they also traded some guy named Avery Bradley and a future second round pick for Marcus Morris.
While many questioned the trades when they happened, they’ve worked wonders for the Boston Celtics so far, even with Hayward out for the year after a severe ankle injury in the first game of the season. They’ve won seventeen of their last eighteen games (!!), and have cemented themselves as serious contenders to come out of the East.
The Celtics currently boast the NBA’s top ranked defense, as they only allow 97.1 points per 100 possessions. They’ve drastically improved their rebounding, going from the 27th ranked rebounding team last season, to the seventh ranked group this year per rebounding percentage. And are getting solid contributions from ex-Pistons Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris on that front, both Baynes and Morris are each averaging 5.5 rebounds per game.
Kyrie Irving is shedding himself of the “he can only win with LeBron” narrative, by playing the best basketball of his career, while simultaneously leading this young Celtics team to the best record in the league. Statistically speaking, Irving is on pace to have a similar line to last year, a humble 23 points, 5.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
But it’s the way in which Kyrie has played that’s been most impressive. He’s improved his defensive awareness and effort, is still regularly cookin’ opponents in a disrespectful fashion, and appears to be the perfect fit to play alongside Al Horford.
The Boston Celtics are rock solid from top to bottom. They boast a positive net rating in 18 out of 20 of their most utilized five man line-ups. Toughness, energy, resilience and effort are all very real qualities in this squad. And while the Pistons have the talent to hand the Celtics their second loss in more than a month of games, they’ll have to match the Celtics in those intangible categories and not get off to another slow start.
Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond
Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Al Horford
The Pistons have always been a tough out for the Celtics, and even with the Cs playing the best basketball in the league, Detroit has a couple favorable match-ups in the starting line-up, including Bradley guarding Irving and Horford battling Drummond down low.
Detroit 104, Boston 102