Celtics

30 teams in 30 days: Can Drummond, Bradley bring Pistons back to playoffs?

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30 teams in 30 days: Can Drummond, Bradley bring Pistons back to playoffs?

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Detroit Pistons.

The last time the Detroit Pistons moved into a new arena was 1989, a move that came on the eve of them winning the first of back-to-back NBA titles.

Detroit is on the move once again (they will play in downtown Detroit now after having played at The Palace of Auburn Hills since 1989), but the team’s outlook for this season isn’t nearly as rosy, new home or not.

To say they have had a postseason rut doesn’t do justice to the struggles they have endured in recent years with one postseason appearance (2016) in the last eight seasons.

Forget about winning a playoff series.

Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008 when it took Boston six games to knock the Pistons off in the Eastern Conference finals.

But this team isn’t kidding itself.

They know a deep playoff run, while not out of the question, is a longshot at best. Getting to the postseason would make this upcoming season a successful one for Detroit.

And that success would likely involve a big year from Andre Drummond who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top centers.

The 7-footer averaged 13.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game last season, and has averaged a double-double in each of the last four seasons.

But the 24-year-old big man is going to need help if the Pistons are to make postseason trips a more regular occurrence than a solar eclipse.

Detroit wants to remain one of the better defensive teams in the league (last season the Pistons’ defensive rating of 105.3 ranked 11th in the NBA), but they know there’s a need to be a better scoring team.

Last season, the Pistons averaged 101.3 points which ranked 26th in the NBA and shot 33 percent from 3-point range which ranked 28th in the league.

Detroit got an upgrade in both categories with their trade of Marcus Morris to Boston for Avery Bradley.

The 6-foot-2 Bradley, one of the better two-way players in the NBA, has shown improvement in at least one phase of his game every subsequent year he has been in the NBA, a trend he’s likely to continue along this season.

Last year, Bradley averaged 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, both career highs.

The Pistons are also banking on a big bounce-back season from Reggie Jackson who played in just 52 games, the fewest games he played since his rookie season with Oklahoma City (45 games).

Their play will go far in the Pistons finding a way back into the postseason, a place they would love to call home.

Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Avery Bradley (Boston); Anthony Tolliver (Minnesota); Langston Galloway (New York)

Key losses: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Los Angeles Lakers)

Rookies of note: Luke Kennard.

Expectations: 42-40 (Third in the Central Division, 7th in the East)

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Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie won't call win vs. Pistons 'payback'

Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie won't call win vs. Pistons 'payback'

Kyrie Irving wouldn’t call Boston’s 91-81 win at Detroit payback, even though the Nov. 27 loss to the Pistons was very much on the mind of him and his teammates.

As he went through the keys to Boston’s win, near the end he said, “just remember what they did to us at home. That was also in the back of our minds.”

Irving added, “I wouldn’t call it payback. It’s just always good when you can respond the way you want to, especially on their home floor just like they did on our home floor. They took care of business. We wanted to come here and take care of business.”

Indeed, beating Detroit was more about bouncing back than payback for Boston which had lost a hard-fought 105-102 game at San Antonio on Friday night.

“In order to continue to build character and an identity for our team,” Irving said. “You have to be able to respond to losses like that with a quick turnaround.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 91-81 win over Detroit.

 

STARS

Aron Baynes

There were others who scored more points and grabbed more rebounds, but it was the play of Baynes that really set the tone for the Celtics’ victory. His ability to not just defend Andre Drummond, but also to provide help against Detroit’s dribble-penetrators and still be in position to protect the rim and rebound, was impressive. He would finish with six points and a season-high 13 rebounds.

Tobias Harris

He began the game getting buckets and didn’t really let up, finishing with a game-high 19 points in part by using his quickness when defended by a bigger defender (Al Horford), or use his strength to bully less physically imposing players (Jaylen Brown).

Al Horford

His inside-outside game offensively was a major key for the Celtics all game. Horford led the Celtics with a near double-double, tallying a team-high 18 points to go with nine rebounds in addition to dishing out six assists.

 

STUDS

Avery Bradley

It wasn’t a great shooting night for Bradley (12 points, 5-for-16 shooting), but he once again did an impressive job defensively especially against Kyrie Irving (16 points, 4-for-12 shooting).

Anthony Tolliver

Coming off the Pistons bench, Tolliver delivered 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting which was huge for keeping Detroit in the game.

 

DUDS

Andre Drummond

Credit Aron Baynes and company for absolutely taking him out of the game. He missed four of his five shot attempts, and the one that counted was a tip-in that upon seeing the replay looked as though it should have not counted. He led all players with 15 rebounds, but Drummond’s impact was minimal at best which as the Pistons know better than anyone, isn’t enough for them to win.

Reggie Jackson

Boston completely shut Jackson down as the former Boston College star missing all nine of his shot attempts while tallying just two points on a pair of free throws.

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Baynes' play key for Celtics in 91-81 victory over Pistons

Baynes' play key for Celtics in 91-81 victory over Pistons

Aron Baynes was a game-time decision after taking a blow to the stomach against San Antonio on Friday.

He played on Sunday afternoon, and delivered one of his best games of the season which was indeed a kick in the stomach to Detroit whose fourth-quarter comeback efforts came up short in Boston’s 91-81 victory.

Baynes didn't score much (six points), but his defense and rebounding (13 rebounds) would prove pivotal in Boston's win. 

Boston (23-5) got off to a slow start but spent most of the game playing with a lead. Al Horford led the Celtics with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Kyrie Irving chipped in with 16 points. Tobias Harris led all scorers with 19 points.

But Detroit, among the best comeback teams in the NBA, didn’t go down quietly.

Detroit (14-12), which has now lost six straight, were on the comeback trail with a 12-0 run in the fourth that coincided with the Celtics missing 12 straight shots.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens had seen enough when he called a time-out with 4:19 to play and Boston clinging to a 79-75 lead.

Jaylen Brown ended the shot-making slump for Boston with a driving basket to the lane, only for Andre Drummond to get a tip-in – his first points of the game – cut into Boston’s lead.

As Detroit fought back, the Celtics continued to make all the necessary plays which included a 3-pointer by Al Horford and a driving lay-up by Marcus Smart, the latter putting Boston ahead 89-80.

While they were getting it done down the stretch, the player of the game for Boston was easily Aron Baynes.

A game-time decision after taking a blow to the stomach at San Antonio on Friday, Baynes had six points and a season-high 13 rebounds in addition to doing an impressive job in limiting Drummond all game.

Drummond, who had 26 points and 22 rebounds against Boston on Nov. 27, was held to just six points and 15 rebounds.

Detroit opened the game with a 10-4 run, looking to pick up where they left off when the two met on Nov. 27 and the Pistons handed Boston a 118-108 defeat, Boston’s worst loss of the season.

However, the Celtics bounced back with a 11-0 run of their own and continued to play with a lead that slowly but surely, steadily expanded.

Leading 44-37 at the half, Boston scored the first five points of the third – a tip-in by Baynes, a Brown lay-up and a technical free throw by Kyrie Irving after Drummond was whistled for a technical with 10:23 to play in the third.

Boston would spend most of the third quarter milking a double-digit lead, with the quarter ending with the Celtics ahead 73-59 as Terry Rozier drained a 3-pointer that just beat the third quarter horn sounding off.

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