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Celtics play host to Blake Griffin-less Pistons Friday

Celtics play host to Blake Griffin-less Pistons Friday

BOSTON -- The Boston and their lack of big man depth may have caught a break heading into their game Friday night against Detroit. 

The Pistons are going to be without 6-foot-9 forward Blake Griffin (left knee soreness) who did not make the trip with the team.

“It’s going to be day-to-day with him getting better, getting rehab on it,” said Detroit coach Dwane Casey. 

Griffin had 15 points and four rebounds in Detroit’s 13-point loss to Toronto on Wednesday, after having missed the previous six games with knee soreness. 

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This season has been a challenge for Griffin and the Pistons. 

Coming off an All-Star season a year ago, Griffin has been limited to just 15 games while averaging 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists. His scoring and rebounding are both career lows, as well as his 37 percent shooting from the field while playing 28.3 minutes. 

Boston (18-7) comes in without centers Robert Williams III (hip enema) and Vincent Poirier (finger) who will each be out for at least the next three weeks. The Celtics will also be without Gordon Hayward (foot) and Marcus Smart (eye infection). 

The lack of big-man depth has forced the Celtics to go with 6-7 Grant Williams as the No. 3 center behind Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter. Behind Williams on the depth chart will likely be 7-5 Tacko Fall. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pistons, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Al Horford on flagrant: 'Blake is a great actor'

Al Horford on flagrant: 'Blake is a great actor'

BOSTON — Boston Celtics big man Al Horford downplayed the flagrant foul whistled against him late in Wednesday’s win over the Detroit Pistons, taking a jab at Blake Griffin in the process.

Horford and Griffin collided near midcourt as Horford tried to break up an inbounds pass with Griffin sprinting out ahead following a Boston make. Horford’s right arm hit Griffin’s head but the Detroit forward dramatically spun a full 360 degrees before flailing to the parquet on his stomach. Griffin sat with his hand over his face, then stopped to rest on his knees, before finally standing back up.

Horford, who offered a dismissive wave as Griffin laid prone, wore a disbelieving smirk as referees initiated a video review before declaring it a flagrant-1 foul.

"Man, that was — Blake is a great actor. He’s a great actor,” said Horford. "I was going for the ball and he sold it well. So, yeah, I don’t think that was a flagrant foul.”

☘️ CELTICS 118, PISTONS 110

Griffin, who had a propensity to sell contact throughout Wednesday’s game, stayed in the game and made both freebies.

Horford flirted with a triple-double while putting up his second loud stat line in as many nights. Horford finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists over 31 minutes in Boston’s 118-110 triumph.

The Celtics posted wins over Philadelphia and Detroit — both without Kyrie Irving — to head into the All-Star break with a bit of momentum. A fired-up Horford aided both victories and he sparred with both Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond on consecutive nights.

"It’s a rise-to-the-occasion-type thing, and I feel that our group has responded the last two games,” said Horford. "I just want to make sure we all understand the opportunity we have in front of us, and do anything I can to help compete.”

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Stars, Studs and Duds: Theis leads strong bench play for Celtics in win over Pistons

Stars, Studs and Duds: Theis leads strong bench play for Celtics in win over Pistons

Next man up.

It has been the often talked-about reality that the Boston Celtics have had to endure for years, as one key player after another goes down only for someone to emerge from the shadows of the bench to deliver a surprisingly strong performance.

That was Daniel Theis on Saturday, whose play enabled Boston to elevate a slim lead into an unexpected slaughter in defeating the Detroit Pistons, 109-89.

Theis, whose foot injury made him questionable to play shortly before tip-off, delivered his best performance in this still-young NBA season.

The second-year forward tallied a season-high 17 points, most of which came in the second quarter which was when Boston (4-2) began to pull away for its second straight win while handing Detroit (4-1) its first loss of the season.

In the second quarter, Theis scored eight points in addition to grabbing four rebounds.

There were legitimate concerns on the Celtics' part prior to the game about not having Aron Baynes -- the league’s leader in defensive rating a year ago, and current leader this season -- who remains out with a hamstring injury.

Andre Drummond has been a double-double waiting to happen every night at center, and Blake Griffin has been off to an MVP candidate-like start to the season.

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So the need for someone, particularly in the front court, to step up was undeniable.

And as it turned out, that player was Theis who delivered one of his best games ever as a Celtic in helping Boston establish its first winning streak of the season with a second straight victory.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s decisive win at Detroit.

STARS

Daniel Theis: In what was easily his best game of the season, Daniel Theis was a difference-maker for the Celtics at both ends of the floor as well as on the glass. He came off the Boston bench to tally a season-high 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go with eight rebounds.

B.W.A.: Boston’s second unit (aka, Bench With Attitude) had it going on all levels Saturday night whether it was scoring, rebounding or defense. Led by the threesome of Theis, Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier who combined for 49 points, their ability to not just dominate the second unit matchup but the game in general, provided the Celtics with a cushy win in addition to some much-needed rest for veterans Al Horford (21 minutes) and Kyrie Irving (23 minutes).

STUDS

Gordon Hayward: Being able to make some nice moves and finish at the rim, were both on display with Gordon Hayward’s game Saturday night. He would tally 15 points along with six rebounds.

Andre Drummond: A bloodied nose in the third quarter slowed Andre Drummond down briefly, but he still managed to make a significant impact on the game. Drummond came up short with what would have been his fourth double-double of the season, with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Jaylen Brown: You figure at some point Jaylen Brown would get it going offensively. Saturday was that night for Brown who had a season-high 19 points which was also tops among all Celtics.

Stanley Johnson: For most of the first half, Stanley Johnson was Detroit’s most consistent scoring threat. He would finish the night with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field.

Kyrie Irving: Regaining the shooting stroke we’ve come to expect from Kyrie Irving remains a work in progress. In the meantime, he’s finding other ways to contribute like getting his teammates involved (five assists) and corralling missed shots (seven rebounds).

DUDS

Blake Griffin: He came into the game as the league’s top scorer, at 33.8 points per game. Boston used a plethora of defenders to make him a non-factor most of the game. Griffin would finish the game with just seven points on 2-for-13 shooting from the field.

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