Jayson Tatum shook off a slow start to score 34 points as the Celtics, down two starters in Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, held off a late Pistons’ run to win 111-99.
First and foremost, Tatum was unstoppable — when he chose to be. He followed up a 12-point first half with a 16-point third quarter, tormenting whatever Pistons defender he had in front of him. The Pistons struggle to stop good scorers, but playing a great one?
You know it was gonna be rough. Excusable, but rough.
What’s inexcusable is the role players who went off against Detroit.
Derrick White looked like he was back in the Pac-12, hitting tough shots from everywhere. He finished with 23 points 7 rebounds and 7 assists, flirting with a triple-double. The other surprising one was Sam Hauser, the former two-way player, who hit five triples en route to 15 points as the spot starter for the injured Brown.
There were a few good performances by Detroit, but I gotta start with Killian Hayes.
The polarizing guard finally got out of his feelings and into the game tonight. He’d been noticeably down after being shifted to the bench in favor of Jaden Ivey and, frankly, his subsequent play reflected his attitude.
But tonight? This was good Killian.
He just missed a double-double with 17 points and 9 assists, hitting clutch shots and, honestly, some difficult shots, in the fourth quarter as the Pistons cut what was a 20+ point lead to single digits.
I was curious whether Dwane Casey would let Hayes finish the game or if he would go back to the starting backcourt of Ivey and Alec Burks. Reading between the lines, it seems like that has been a directive from somewhere — likely Troy Weaver and the front office — but tonight Casey made the right call.
Hayes and Ivey finished the game. Sometimes, rewarding guys for playing well can go a long way in terms of boosting their confidence.
The other guy in that comeback who stuck out was Hamidou Diallo. He wasn’t huge on the score sheet, but his impact was tangible. He had the loudest 6-point, 3-rebound, 2-block game you’ll see and his energy was palpable as the Pistons came back.
There are so many rumors swirling and more questions about what this team will look like next year. I just hope there are some minutes for Diallo because he’s proving he can give them a jolt when needed.
Offensively, it was the wings, Bojan Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey, who led the way.
Bey didn’t shoot well, missing 10 of his 15 attempts, but it felt like he was in control. He played a good game, finishing with 14 off the bench. Bogdanovic — in what could be, but probably won’t be, his final game at LCA — scored 21 points and grabbed three boards.
I thought the two-big lineup of Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart held up well against the big Celtics front of Al Horford and Robert Williams. They combined for 26 rebounds, though I wish Duren had gotten more scoring opportunities.
He had 7 points, but on just 3 of 4 shooting, much of that in a big second quarter where he and Ivey were masterful in the two-man game. Ivey was ok, finishing with an Ivey-esque 14 points and 5 assists. He hit some tough shots, he missed some tough shots, he probably took too many.
Sometimes, he tends to get too aggressive in games against other stars like Tatum. That’s not crazy for a young guy, but he’s much better when he’s attacking in a controlled fashion and not wildly like tonight.
Oh yeah, one last thing: Blake Griffin got booed, again. I get it, but I also don’t. He’s a shell of himself now because he gave everything he had left in that playoff season. Seems weird to boo him over, presumably, that dunking comment he made.
Anyways, Pistons lose. It was fun. Let us know what you thought in the comments!