bostoThe Detroit Pistons ended the Boston Celtics nine-game win streak Wednesday night, defeating the home team 112-111.
Jayson Tatum had a mid-range attempt at the buzzer but fell short as the Pistons got their 13th win of the season. Boston moved to 34-26, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference.
The Boston Celtics’ New Starting Five
The Celtics introduced Derrick White into the starting lineup for the first time since acquiring him in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs, following an ankle injury to usual starter Marcus Smart. White ended up playing 36 minutes and recorded nine points, six rebounds, six assists, and three steals.
Jaylen Brown was the game’s leading scorer with 31 points on an efficient 12-21 shooting performance. His partner in Tatum finished with 22 points and seven turnovers.
Grant Williams played a career-high 41 minutes in the affair, going for 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
The Pistons, who were down four points at halftime, dominated the third quarter, scoring 36 points and gaining the necessary momentum to hold off the red-hot Celtics in the fourth. Jerami Grant, Cade Cunningham, and Saddiq Bey all finished with at least 20 points for the victors.
Wednesday’s loss ended Boston’s immaculate run of form that had helped them climb up out of the play-in tournament seeding to sixth place. This stretch was much-needed after the C’s started their season in poor form and had incurred questions about if the roster needed an overhaul.
This weekend’s All-Star Game and the ensuing break mean that every team is getting somewhere around a week of rest. For players like Brown and Tatum (who will play in the All-Star Game), this rest comes at the perfect time.
The Eastern Conference is dominated by star pairings— James Harden and Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton— and Boston’s famous duo will need to be at their best when the postseason rolls around.
Wednesday’s loss also showed the importance of Marcus Smart, whose absence forced Derrick White to start and rendered the second unit almost useless. The trio of Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard, and Daniel Theis finished with a combined 13 points off of the bench, which shows just how thin Boston’s depth is, especially after trading Romeo Langford and Josh Richardson to San Antonio.
Setting the loss aside, Boston showed that it can be a premier team in the NBA; critics will say that they have always oscillated like this in the Tatum-Brown era, but it was still refreshing to see how hot the team can run when they are at their best.
Next on the list of targets for head coach Ime Udoka and the Celtics will be consistently beating championship contenders, or, at least, playing them tightly. This is one area they have struggled in, but a resounding 48-point win against the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the week was a terrific start to changing the narrative.
If the Celtics come out of the All-Star break playing as they did over the last three weeks, well, the Eastern Conference is going to be turned on its head, and many upsets will be occurring in the playoffs.
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