Celtics

Celtics-Pistons a reminder of where both teams stand in the East

Celtics-Pistons a reminder of where both teams stand in the East

The idea every game for the Boston Celtics is to play a little better than they did the previous game. It’s the clearest signal for growth which more than anything else, is what the Celtics are striving to do consistently.

But as much as that might have been a focus against Detroit on Sunday, there was a bigger agenda item at work.

According to Kyrie Irving, Boston’s 91-81 win wasn’t about payback.

He’s right. 

But make no mistake about it; that was an agenda-driven victory that wasn’t so much about sending a statement but more of a reminder as to where Boston is right in the pantheon of the NBA and where the Pistons hope to be someday.

Celtics players saw their first meeting on Nov. 27 as one of 82 games. If they win it, great. If not, oh well. Let’s keep it moving. But the Pistons saw it as so much more than that. They treated as a much bigger deal than Boston did, and the result was Boston suffering its worst loss of the season.

Their game on Sunday was a referendum on Boston still being the team to beat in the East not named Cleveland, and Detroit is still among a jumbled pack of playoff contenders.

And so both move on, Boston (23-5) maintaining the best record in the East while the Pistons (14-12) have now dropped six straight with no clear signs of snapping out of their doldrums anytime soon.

That would be the big picture takeaway from Sunday’s game.

But it’s not the only one. 

Here are five other takeaways from Boston’s 91-81 win at Detroit on Sunday. 

 

There has been some noticeable and statistical slippage by the Boston Celtics recently on defense. On Sunday? Not so much. In fact, Boston wound up rendering a season-low 81 points. A big part of that was Boston’s unwillingness to give Detroit open looks. Of the 84 shots taken by the Pistons, 63 – that’s 75 percent – were contested. Throw in the fact that the Celtics have tremendous length when they do contest shots, it’s no surprise that the Pistons had major problems generating points.

 

AL HORFORD

He scored more points (18) than any other Celtic, but that just scratches the surface as to what he meant to Boston on this night. He was a rugged force around the rim, finishing one rebound shy of a double-double. And the offense went through him a lot, which explains the six assists. 

 

KYRIE IRVING’S KRYPTONITE

There is no player in this league that does a better job of defending Kyrie Irving, than ex-Celtic Avery Bradley. Now don’t get it twisted. Bradley doesn’t shut Irving down. What he does is, he makes Irving work harder than he does against any player, to score. So the 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting while not great by Irving standards, is pretty good considering who he was being defended by.

 

ANDRE DRUMMOND

The knock on him has been and continues to be, that he’s not as engaged as consistently as he needs to be to help his team. Give a lot of credit to Boston’s Aron Baynes for making Drummond for the most part, a non-factor. But some of the blame for Drummond’s dismal performance offensively (he was 1-for-5 and the one basket was a tip-in that upon further review looked as though it should not have been allowed), is on him. He was the biggest, strongest force on the floor on Sunday and had a very Drummond-like game in terms of rebounds (15). But this Pistons team needs him to be a steady presence scoring the ball as well. When he does that, Detroit can beat any team. But when he plays like he did on Sunday, the result more often than not will be what we saw – a Detroit loss. 

 

ARON BAYNES

He was justifiably praised for the job he did defensively on Andre Drummond. But as important as that was, often Baynes’ contributions offensively go unnoticed. For example, he had six points which equaled Drummond’s scoring. But what got overlooked was the job Baynes did in screening for assists. Boston had 16 assists for the game, with Baynes screening for eight of them. To put that in perspective, that was four times the total of the rest of the Celtics. And the nearest player to him in that category was Detroit’s Eric Moreland who screened for four assists. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Jarell Eddie hoping to find permanent home with Celtics

eddie_12118.jpg

Jarell Eddie hoping to find permanent home with Celtics

BOSTON – It was a pretty standard day in the G-League for Jarell Eddie. 

The Windy City Bulls had a game that night, but a pre-game nap was in order. 

But before he could drift off into a brief slumber, Eddie’s plans – and basketball career – were soon jetting off in another unpredictable direction. 

It was his agent calling to let him know the Boston Celtics were signing him to a 10-day contract for what would be his second stint – sort of – with the Celtics. 

Back in 2014, the Celtics picked up Eddie off waivers only for him to be waived by Boston just a couple days later. 

“I remember I was excited I got picked up off of waivers,” Eddie recalled. “And I was really excited and I thought, ‘okay cool, I’ve got another opportunity. And then a couple days later I wasn’t here. So, it was a real quick stint.”

The fact that he will be on the bench tonight is indeed progress compared to his first time as a Celtic. 

But more than anything, Eddie has a specific strength – shooting – that the Celtics desperately need more of going forward. 

“As we went through this past week, as the flu went through our team, with Kyrie and the shoulder, we wanted to make sure as we begin to head West we had a full complement of guys,” Stevens said. “And his ability to shoot the basketball is unique.”

While it is indeed Eddie’s greatest strength, he’ll need to show that there’s more to his game than just knocking down shots. 

First and foremost, he has to get on the floor which will not be easy. 

One of the reasons the Celtics signed him was because they weren’t sure of the status of Kyrie Irving’s sore left shoulder which kept him sidelined for Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday. 

But Irving’s shoulder has improved to the point where he will return to the Celtics’ lineup today against Orlando. 

Eddie, who has 31 NBA games under his belt from his time in Phoenix and Washington, understands that his opportunities will be limited.

But for him, it’s all about having an opportunity – something the Celtics are open to giving him. 

“It’s just so rewarding to finally get that call that you worked so hard for in the offseason, during the season, while you’re playing in the G-League,” Eddie said. “Going through that grind. So, to get that call is such a reward.”

And now, the focus will be on him to answer that call and do enough in the 10-day window that he’s hoping to extend to provide himself with the one thing that has been missing throughout his pro career – a basketball home. 

“You never get used to it,” he said. “I feel like at this point in my career I’m chasing stability, to be in one place longer than six months or however long. You never get used to it. I know my wife is tired of it.  You’re definitely trying to get somewhere, stick somewhere.” 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Marcus Morris impressed with New England's 'winning culture,' but allegiance is with Eagles

celtics_marcus_morris_112417.jpg

Marcus Morris impressed with New England's 'winning culture,' but allegiance is with Eagles

BOSTON – Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris isn’t all that different than most football fans in New England as far as being excited about the games today that will decide who moves on to the Super Bowl. 

But Morris’ allegiance lies squarely with the Philadelphia Eagles who will host the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game which will be played after the New England Patriots beat the crap out of  play the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

“Before I got here, I didn’t really know how big sports was in this town,” Morris , who is from Philadelphia, told NBC Sports Boston. “Being here for a couple months, just walking around … it’s a winning culture around here.”

Morris added, “damn near every year they in the Super Bowl or right there. That’s big for the city. It means a lot for everybody.”

And while the last decade or so has not been nearly as great for his hometown, Morris sees progress on several fronts. 

“The Sixers are started to win some games and be more competitive,” Morris said. “Hopefully the Eagles and get it done today, sneak into the Super Bowl and if they get there, you never know what can happen.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE