Opponent Scouting: Boston Celtics. (3-2)
Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will play host to the Celtics of Boston. The Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Cavaliers on Thursday, as are the Celtics after beating the Thunder on Thursday.
The Celtics have sputtered a bit out of the gate this season, starting just 3-2 and currently sport the second-worst offense in the NBA by scoring 99.2 points per 100 possessions. Even with that, they remain a formidable foe with their defense already top in the NBA by a wide margin of allowing just 96.6 points per 100 possessions, which is more than 4 points ahead of 2nd place.
Jayson Tatum has shot like crap out of the gate (as have several others) but he is still averaging 18.8 points per game (which leads the team) and is still a solid defender. Kyrie Irving has shot really poorly but is liable to break out into his normal dynamic self any day. Al Horford is still the quiet do-all who makes the team work on both ends of the floor, Jaylen Brown is a great defender but has struggled with his shot more than anyone else so far. Gordon Hayward has not looked quite right on either end of the floor.
Off the bench, Marcus Morris is still doing his thing and been their primary 6th man, Marcus Smart is a good defender and great flopper, Terry Rozier can shoot from deep, Daniel Theis is a decent all-round big, Aron Baynes is still good at being a large human.
This team is going to be very good at some point, even if it takes a while to really figure out the offensive balance they need. They are already showing their dominant defense which is the scariest thing. People who automatically put them over the Raptors this season are already seeing the foolishness of such an assumption, but the Celtics should still very much so be the real deal when all is said and done.
Matchups to watch:
Drummond vs. Horford: Andre Drummond has given the Celtics, and especially Horford, problems for a long time. Horford is a wonderful player, but Drummond's brand of brutal athleticism is very difficult for him to deal with. The potential matchup problem Drummond is for the Celtics is the Pistons best chance to even the odds here.
Blake Griffin vs. The fishing village: If Aron Baynes is out again, then the Celtics will be going very small. Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown will have to guard Blake Griffin, which should go very well for Blake Griffin. The Celtics will have clever defensive looks to try and mitigate the damage though, and it will be up to Blake to play around whatever the Celtics throw at him.
Blake Griffin vs. Defending: Other than Dario Saric, who went cold from deep, Griffin has not had to really play any defense so far this season. Whoever he draws on defense, Horford, Tatum, Brown, whoever, will make him work harder than anyone so far this year. Griffin will have to be on his game and provide good effort he is to avoid giving back the points he scores.
Pistons vs. Offensive stagnation: Even though it has mostly worked, the Pistons offense has not exactly been dynamic this season. They are in the middle of the NBA in 3PA and the bottom 3rd in assists per game. This Celtics defense will demand some extra umphf from the Pistons.
Pistons vs. Kyrie Irving: He’s been cold so far, but that can change any day. The Pistons really do not have a good option to defend him if he does. If Kyrie decides to break out in this game he could bury the Pistons on his own.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
The Celtics continue to be totally out of whack on offense.
Run for the hills if:
The Celtics are successfully guarding Blake Griffin.
Kyrie Irving starts hitting impossible shots.
All of the Pistons bad habits from the first 4 games come to a head in a big way.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre Drummond has 20/20 again.
The Pistons offense struggles.
The Celtics offense gets going a bit against the Pistons terrible defense.
The game is close and ugly but the Pistons stay in it the whole time by brutalizing the Celtics on the glass in a huge way and Blake Griffin hits another game-winner.
Pistons 101 - Celtics 100.
What do you think? Can they keep the run going? Will Boston get right on offense?