The Detroit Pistons were 4-0 until Saturday’s loss to the Boston Celtics, where widely-distributed scoring (five Boston players reached double-figures) and focused defense on Blake Griffin helped the Celtics climb to 4-2 for the season.
Griffin had been averaging more than 30 points per game before the loss but was stunningly held to just seven points, by far his season low. The rest of the team didn’t quite fill the gaps, with Andre Drummond and Stanley Johnson being the only two Pistons to score in double figures–logging 18 points and 16 points, respectively.
Heading into tonight’s rematch, the Pistons will need to learn from Saturday and make some major adjustments.
The Pistons Will Need to Feed a Vengeful Blake Griffin
In Saturday’s post-game conference, Pistons coach Dwayne Casey acknowledged a lack of ball movement and an inability to get Griffin the looks he’d have needed to have another monster night.
“The ball wasn’t moving. And against a good defensive team, that’ll expose you,” he told the press.
When it came to Griffin’s low-scoring night, he cited the lack of ball movement again along with his own play-calling as part of the issue–two things upon which the team will certainly have placed an emphasis leading up to tonight. “I take responsibility for not running the plays that helped him get his looks,” Casey said.
Griffin had three turnovers on Saturday and at times was visibly frustrated with his own ineffectiveness. He was 2-13 on shots from the field and 0-4 behind the arc–numbers that speak to, yes, the Celtics focused defense, but also to the fact that Griffin was just experiencing a perfectly normal “off” night.
It’s unlikely that that will be the case two games in a row.
Casey Says to Keep Shooting
Coach Casey also addressed the team’s poor shooting performance on Saturday, and partially attributed it to, again, a lack of ball movement.
“Our shooters have to continue to shoot,” he said, “and at some point they will fall. But it happens when the ball is moving and you get a rhythm.”
He emphasized that their shot selection will need to improve if they want to reach a better percentage from downtown. If they move the ball and get better looks, tonight will be a much different game.
The Celtics Have Been Preparing for the Backlash
The Celtics know that the Pistons–and especially Griffin–will be coming for blood after the recent loss, and coach Brad Stevens admitted that their last meeting was a perfect storm of a Pistons “off night,” while the Celtics were, fortunately, “on.”
“They probably played their worst game up to this point and we probably played one of our better,” Stevens said during practice yesterday. “So we need to be better tomorrow night, and that was our emphasis today.”
The Celtics will be playing without center sub Daniel Theis, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury, but another center alternate Aron Baynes will be back in the rotation after missing a few games. Theis had a season-high 17 against the Pistons on Saturday, but Baynes will certainly be hungry to put up similar numbers in one of his first games of the season.
At this point, the game is a toss-up. But if the Celtics can once again stifle Blake Griffin it’ll be tough for the Pistons to recover and get the win.
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