The Boston Celtics will chase a four-game winning streak when they host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
An explosive offense at 115.3 points per game has helped the Celtics to a 7-3 start. They have at least 102 points in every game and at least 109 in every victory.
Jayson Tatum led Boston with 39 points on 12-of-25 shooting from the field in Monday’s 109-106 win at Memphis, but it was a late defensive stand with the ball in the hands of Grizzlies star Ja Morant that sealed the victory.
“Our guys have always played hard, but (Monday) I felt like we took a step toward our defensive details,” Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Defense is something they’ve shown they can do. Some habits take time to build. It’s something we’re definitely getting better at.”
The defense was key as Morant scored just three points in the final quarter and Memphis made just 3 of 11 3-pointers in the period. The Celtics will look to keep up that intensity when they face the Pistons. Boston won three of the four games between the teams last season.
On Monday, the Celtics trailed 85-84 at the end of the third quarter, but a 16-5 run to begin the fourth was the difference.
During a strong start to the season, the game of runs often has gone Boston’s way.
“We’re finding ways to win games,” Celtics point guard Marcus Smart said. “Finding ways to hold off runs. There’s going to come a time where our shots aren’t falling and our defense needs to stay where it’s at.”
Detroit is 0-5 on the road this season and has defeated just one Eastern Conference team — the Orlando Magic in the season opener. Orlando is just 2-9. The Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak with Monday’s 112-103 win over Oklahoma City.
Thanks to a 64-40 advantage in the second half, the Pistons overcame a 63-48 halftime deficit to earn their first victory since Oct. 30 against Golden State.
“Our big adjustment is called energy,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “They outran us and outhustled us in the first half, and once we decided to play at the level, we got ourselves back into the game.”
Casey’s team started the second half on a 24-6 run.
Saddiq Bey scored 25 points to lead the Pistons in scoring for the fourth time this season, while Cade Cunningham had 21 points and 11 rebounds. Jaden Ivey and Isaiah Stewart also logged double-doubles.
Rookie center Jalen Duren — who became the youngest player to record a double-double since Dwight Howard (2004) earlier this season — missed three games with a left-ankle injury, but he returned Monday to post seven points, four rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes.
“Getting all of our guys back, our bigs back and healthy will help us with that,” Casey said. “You’ll have some flexibility — you can play big, you can play small. But most definitely you can match up with big lineups that we’re seeing.”
The Pistons will conclude their two-game road trip against the New York Knicks on Friday night before Boston makes a return trip to Detroit on Saturday.
–Field Level Media