Detroit seemed on its way to pulling away in the first, only for the Celtics to close out the quarter with six straight to lead 26-25 after the first.
The second quarter was just as tight, although the Celtics started to show some separation by giving the Pistons a taste of their own medicine.
Detroit loves to use Andre Drummond’s superior power and strength against most defenders, as an effective means of scoring in the paint.
And when defenses collapse, it creates great looks from the perimeter.
Well the Celtics made a point of finding mismatches in the backcourt that had 6-7 Jaylen Brown and 6-4 Marcus Smart matched up with Detroit’s smaller guards.
And Brown and Smart made their presence felt with baskets around the rim, which opened things up a bit for Boston’s perimeter bigs to make plays.
The Celtics went ahead by five points – their largest lead of the game at that point – after Smart scored in the post against a smaller Pistons defender.
Boston increased its lead to eight points (40-32) following a 3-pointer by Terry Rozier, only for the Pistons to run off four straight after former Boston College standout Reggie Jackson split a pair of free throws.
But the Celtics made all the plays down the stretch in the second, capped off by a last-second 3-pointer from Al Horford.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Monday’s game.
I have to give it up to Isaiah Thomas. He didn’t have any kind of rhythm shooting the ball most of the first half, but he still managed to have a good scoring effort through the first two quarters. At the half, he had 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting.
He’s a load for most teams to defend in the post, and Monday was no exception. Boston did about as good a job as you can keeping him from dominating the ball in the post. But that didn’t stop him from making his presence felt, scoring 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with grabbing nine rebounds.
He has been one of the better players of late for Boston, usually doing his best work in the first half. Monday was no exception as Crowder scored 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with three rebounds.
Three-point shooting aside, Jackson had a solid first half for the Pistons. He had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting, with three of his four misses being 3-point attempts.
Once again Smart is making his presence felt as a key sub off the bench for Boston. He had nine points in the first half along with four assists.
Detroit 3-point shooting
We know this is not one of Detroit’s strengths as a team, but damn! At the half, the Pistons missed 14 of their 15 3-point attempts. The Pistons came in shooting 34.4 percent on 3’s which ranked 26th in the NBA.