Brandon Jennings outguns Celtics (and Trey Burke and Brandon Knight)

Detroit Pistons 107 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 Boston Celtics
Greg Monroe, PF 34 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-5 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +10

If Monroe had a jumper he trusted, he would have dominated this game (though he probably would have been guarded differently). The Celtics backed off, daring him to shoot even from short-mid-range. He refused, taking just one shot outside six feet. Boston’s defensive plan made it much harder for Monroe to get good looks inside, but he still used aggressive moves to get a few. Defensively, Monroe was strong. He was slow on some rotations, but he moved well enough that the Pistons could switch frequently on pick-and-rolls. He also effectively defended bigs physically, even if that led to a few fouls.

Josh Smith, SF 33 MIN | 8-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | -8

Does any other player miss more open shots? Opponents give him a lot of open jumpers, and he rarely hesitates to take them – and he misses most of them. Smith shot 4-for-4 in the restricted area and 4-for-14 everywhere else, though he hit a couple late long 2s that helped down stretch (and will likely further skew his perception of a good shot). Since getting inside against the Trail Blazers, Smith has wandered outside more often in these last two games. I hope that trend ends soon. Smith defended well on the ball, but his off-ball defense was more adventurous. Smith roamed and pressured passing lanes, but that also left his man open on the perimeter and took Smith out of rebounding position. On the plus side, Smith handled the ball a lot and had no turnovers.

Andre Drummond, C 38 MIN | 7-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +14

Tim and I agree on most basketball issues, but one area where we don’t see eye-to-eye is how to best use Drummond defensively. Though Drummond has had flashes of defending the perimeter well, I don’t think that’s sustainable. Tim does, believing Drummond should handle that role in Detroit’s big lineups rather than Smith. Score one in my favor tonight. Drummond was often pulled outside the paint defensively, and he was largely lost. When protecting the paint, he did an excellent job, though. He also absolutely destroyed the glass on both ends. Drummond might be the NBA’s best rebounder.

Brandon Jennings, PG 40 MIN | 9-21 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 14 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 28 PTS | +12

Jennings is not afraid to shoot. That’s for certain. He pulled up for jumpers Sidney Deane would be ashamed to take. But Jennings made more than his fair share tonight, including 5-of-8 3-pointers. Avery Bradley is no defensive slouch, either. Jennings was just an offensive force tonight, clearing the bar he raised for himself by dominating the ball throughout many of Detroit’s possessions. Not all Jennings’ dribbling went toward finding himself shots, and he did a good job of getting his teammates good looks, too. The timing of Jennings’ breakthrough game couldn’t have been better. He’s underwhelmed this season, and his detractors wouldn’t have had to look past Wednesday night to see what could have been (Brandon Knight had 36 points, three assist and nine rebounds*) and what should have been (Trey Burke had 30 points, eight assists, seven rebounds).** But Jennings more than held his own in a mythical matchup that exists only in the mind of Pistons fans, and he wasn’t so bad in a real-life matchup with the Celtics, either.

*And eight turnovers. Some things never change.

**For the record, I would have drafted Burke and still completed the sign-and-trade for Jennings.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -1

Caldwell-Pope ran the floor hard to get good offensive looks, and he made a majority of his shots for the first time in two weeks. Caldwell-Pope did not get many opportunities defensively. Jordan Crawford took many awful shots before any defender could have an impact, positive or negative. When given a chance in the halfcourt, Caldwell-Pope fell short of his usual high defensive standards, but he anticipated passes to make a couple nice steals.

Josh Harrellson, PF 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -7

Harrellson tried to be active, but sometimes he was half a beat slow to react. He still made a few quietly helpful plays, but he wasn’t getting those deflections/tips/etc. as often as usual.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +4

Jerebko showed good energy on defense, and he converted an and-1 on a strong cut along the baseline. He looked a little too hard for his 3-pointer, missing both his attempts from beyond the arc in just five minutes.

Kyle Singler, SF 25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 4-5 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -6

Singler made a comical blunder when he jumped straight up and came back down with the ball at the end of the first quarter. It became less funny when the Celtics threw an inbound with 0.2 seconds left, and Jared Sullinger tipped in the ball. Singler was poor as a spot-up shooter, making just 1-of-5 3-pointers, but he found moderate success as a cutter and running the break.

Will Bynum, PG 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -12

Bynum had more turnovers than field goals and assists combined. The offense just lacked flow when he played, though he played all five his minutes with a motley lineup. He made up for some of his point-guard issues with a steal and breakaway layup.

Chauncey Billups, SG 19 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -1

Billups looked resigned to the effects of his aging. All his shots were 3-pointers, and after initially seizing point-guard duties from Jennings after entering for Caldwell-Pope midway through the first quarter, Billups drifted into a complementary role.

Maurice Cheeks

The Celtics scored 42 first-quarter points on their way to building a 21-point lead. Their good ball movement and player movement left the Pistons frequently out of position to contest shots. But Detroit adjusted, and it became clear players gained a better understanding of their defensive assignments. However, Cheeks’ talk with Smith, what appeared as if it could be a pivotal moment in the season, has already stopped resonating.

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Tags: Andre Drummond Avery Bradley Boston Celtics Brandon Jennings Brandon Knight Chauncey Billups Greg Monroe Jonas Jerebko Jordan Crawford Josh Harrellson Josh Smith Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Kyle Singler Maurice Cheeks THN-BOS Trey Burke Will Bynum

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