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Pistons vs. Celtics preview: Matinee against the hottest team in the league

The Pistons have been the only team to figure out the Celtics recently, let’s see if that will continue.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

A noon game on a Saturday in February is weird. Matinee games happen, but they are typically reserved for days like MLK Day or Sundays.

The Pistons entered the All Star Break on a high note after beating the Boston Celtics and have exited the break with a win over the Cavaliers on Thursday. Granted, the Cavaliers were short-handed, but it is still a string of impressive wins.

The Pistons will look to build on that and continue being the Celtics killers this season. The Celtics only loss in the month of February came at the hands of the Pistons.

Game Vitals

Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI
When: Saturday, February 26 at 12:00 pm
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds:

Analysis

As mentioned above, the Celtics are the hottest team in the league, but the Pistons have been their kryptonite. Since December 1, 2021, the Celtics have the best defensive rating in the NBA of 106.3. They have a 310 point differential since the turn of the New Year. They also now have the best net rating in the NBA (all stats from StatMuse).

The Celtics are for real, and it has been a shocking turnaround from how they started the season. It looked like it was going to be another disappointing season from the Celtics and another wasted year out of the dynamic duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The Celtics shortened their rotation and everything changed.

The formula for stopping the Celtics on offense is simple on paper, just stop Tatum and Brown and let the rest of the roster beat you. However, that is easier said than done. That duo is the engine that gets the Celtics going on offense and they are complemented by a starting lineup filled with solid positional defenders. And Brown and Tatum are solid defenders in their own right.

The weird thing for the Pistons when they beat the Celtics going into the All Star break is that they did not stop Tatum and Brown. Brown had 31 and Tatum had 22. However, the Celtics only had 13 points from their small bench rotation. Most of the Celtics production comes from their starting lineup, but they still need a better contribution than that from their bench. Especially with how solid the Pistons’ bench is.

The Pistons bench was dominant against the Cavaliers on Thursday, especially on the defensive end. Dwane Casey going away from some of the bench players down the stretch is what almost cost the Pistons the game. The addition of Marvin Bagley III has helped the Pistons’ bench even more.

It will take a similar formula if the Pistons want to beat the Celtics again. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while and the Pistons win over the Celtics before the All Star Break was likely just a blind squirrel finding a nut rather than them actually being the Celtics kryptonite, but we will have to see.

Lineups

Boston Celtics (35-26): Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Robert Williams III

Detroit Pistons (14-45): Cade Cunningham, Cory Joseph, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Day

Who do you hope to see the Pistons give playing time to down the stretch? Do you think any of those players have a shot at a long-term future?