Detroit Pistons: Day After Celtics win observations

Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons won their first game of the season, 96-93, over the Boston Celtics. After sleeping on it, here are some observations on the big win The Day After.

It looked like we’d seen this movie before. The Detroit Pistons build up a big lead (in this case 21 points), the other team comes roaring back in the fourth quarter (the Boston Celtics up five with 4:15 left), and Detroit flails at the end and claims it was another ‘moral victory’.

But, this time, there were some late script changes. It was the Celtics offense that disappeared and the Pistons who made big shots at the end, for a 96-93 victory.

Detroit is now 1-4 on the season, while Boston fell to 3-3.

Lots to go over. So here is the Excellent, the Good, the Not So Good and the Really Not So Good of the game.


Derrick Rose: The Pistons offense, in tight situations, basically goes the way Rose  performs. In losses to Minnesota and Cleveland, his mistakes proved costly. This time, his stellar play launched Detroit to victory.

His driving layup gave Detroit a 94-93 lead with one minute, 20 seconds remaining, and they never relinquished the lead. Rose finished with 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field.

Saddiq Bey: The 6-foot-8 rookie had looked in previous games like gangbusters in the first period, but had then shot like a bust the rest of the game. He changed the narrative this time, for the better.

Starting in place of Blake Griffin (concussion protocol), Bey still shot well in the first quarter but he also added the third period as a time to shine. With  the expected offensive fireworks from the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Boston tried to erase a 15-point halftime deficit. Bey responded by going 4-for-4 on three pointers in the third period.

Detroit’s lead was down to six entering the fourth quarter, but they still had control and and fought off Boston’s best shooting effort of the night. Bey finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Pistons late game defense: The Pistons had been No. 1 in defense during the preseason but had slid down to No. 24 after four games. In the final four minutes, Detroit looked more like the preseason version.

After Boston took a 93-88 lead with 4:15 left, the Pistons did not allow them to score another point.

If Detroit had played defense like this every game, they easily could be 4-1 right now, instead of 1-4.

The Good

Jerami Grant: Detroit took command from the start, bolting out to a 23-5 lead. Many of their points came from the 6-9 Grant. The Celtics are known for their defense but they could not stop Grant, as he drove to the hoop for buckets.

Grant did not make it into Excellent because of a miserable second half, making just two of 13 shots. When you are the team’ big dog, and you have asked to be the big dog, you need to put together two halves.

Grant did sink two clutch foul shots to cut Boston’s lead to one (93-92) with 1:45 remaining. He finished with 24 points.

Isaiah Stewart: With every game, the 6-9 rookie center seems to get better and understand the NBA game more. Jahlil Okafor was active for this game after missing the last two with a bad ankle, but Stewart still got the reserve center minutes.

Boston does not have strong interior defense and he had eight points and five rebounds in 18 minutes. Also had a spectacular dunk running the fast break.

Mason Plumlee: He had a monster games on the boards, you could call it even Drummond-esque. Along with 17 rebounds, he scored eight points. The offense was a good sign after scoring zero in his last game. Also added two assists and a block.

Plumlee stepped up on the defensive end. He ended up being switched onto Brown, Tatum and even guard Marcus Smart and held his own.

The Not So Good

Killian Hayes: He was solid in the passing game with a team-high six assists to two turnovers. That nightmarish performance against Minnesota is far back in his rearview mirror.

He also did well defensively, as guarding Jaylen Brown, coming off a 42-point performance against Golden State, and Marcus Smart did not overwhelm him. However, the 6-foot-5 rookie was simply too passive on offense.

Hayes did not score a point and was 0-for-5 from the field. Most of his shots were simple jumpers. Hayes never forced the action when he had the ball.

We are not looking for him to be Derrick Rose and constantly attack, but he needs to make himself a threat. No alarm bells, as only his fifth game, but something for him to work on.

Sekou Doumbouya: Boston has no real rim protector, so this seemed like a game a player expert at cutting to the basket like Doumbouya should have success going to the hoop.

Instead, the 6-9 forward did not score a point, missing all three shots in 11 minutes. He did grab five rebounds and played some good defense at the end.

Really Not So Good

Celtics offense: Outside of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart, Boston’s other players totaled 27 points, three more than Jerami Grant.

The Celtics only shot 25-percent from ‘three’ and made an abominable half of their foul shots (7-for-14).  Yes, it was their third game in four days but when their top three were not nailing shots, the Celtics had no Plan B.

Next. Detroit Pistons: Every player’s true New Year’s resolution. dark

it was nice to see the Pistons get a win. Even those who want to see Detroit ‘tank’ would not want them to go 0-72. The guys need to experience some taste of victory.

The Celtics get a rematch with Detroit in a Sunday afternoon matinee. Boston will come out breathing fire, attempting to get payback for the loss on Friday. How the Pistons handle a team seeking revenge will be a new experience.