Celtics-Pistons takeaways: Tatum's huge third quarter propels C's to victory


The Boston Celtics overcame the absences of Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to earn a bounce-back road win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night

Smart missed his seventh consecutive game with a right ankle sprain and Brown was out due to a non-COVID illness. The short-handed C's stumbled out the gate and struggled early in the fourth quarter, but they held on to escape Little Caesars Arena with a 111-99 victory.

Celtics Talk POSTGAME POD: Jayson Tatum puts on a second-half clinic in 111-99 win vs. Pistons | Listen & Subscribe

Jayson Tatum put up a game-high 34 points, including 18 in the third quarter. Derrick White (23 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds), Malcolm Brogdon (16 points, 4 assists), Robert Williams (15 points, 15 rebounds), and Sam Hauser (15 points, 6 rebounds) each played key roles in the C's win.

Bojan Bogdanovic paced the Pistons with 21 points. Killian Hayes and Jaden Ivey chipped in 17 and 14, respectively.

The Celtics will hope to have Brown and perhaps Smart back in the fold when they host the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. Here are our takeaways from the C's triumph in Detroit, which brings them to 38-16 on the season.


Jayson Tatum snaps out of brief slump

The first half of Monday's game looked like an extension of Friday's ugly loss to the Phoenix Suns for Jayson Tatum. After shooting 3-for-15 from the field against Phoenix, the Celtics star was an uncharacteristic 3-for-13 from the field in the first half against Detroit.

The real Tatum showed up in the third quarter. Boston dominated the frame thanks to 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting (3-4 3PT) from its superstar.

Tatum's impact was felt again when he wasn't on the court early in the fourth quarter. C's coach Joe Mazzulla tried to give Tatum a rest, but the Pistons got back into the game with a 14-3 run with him on the bench. 

Sure enough, the Celtics' offense found its groove again and was able to finish the job when Tatum returned to the game. The four-time All-Star ended with 34 points on 11-of-23 shooting (3-9 3PT). He also notched 11 rebounds (eight in the second half) and six assists.

Sam Hauser shines in first start

Hauser hasn't been the sharpshooter off the bench the Celtics hoped he'd be this season. The 25-year-old entered Monday's game shooting just 38.9 percent from beyond the arc.

But with Jaylen Brown out, Hauser got the nod for the first start of his NBA career and made the most of his opportunity. He drilled his first two 3-point attempts of the game and stayed hot for the rest of the first half, finishing it with five made 3s in total. He added to the impressive effort with six rebounds.

Hauser took a back seat to Tatum and the rest of the C's supporting cast in the second half, but his 3-point barrage to begin the game was an encouraging sign. He stepped up while Tatum struggled, and that was a big reason Boston was able to earn the victory with Brown sidelined. Perhaps the performance will give Hauser a much-needed confidence boost going forward.

Robert Williams asserts his dominance

The Pistons had no answer for Time Lord on either end of the court, especially in the second half.

Williams bullied the Pistons' bigs in the paint to score 15 points while bringing down 15 boards -- just two away from his career-high. He was at his best late in the fourth quarter as he tallied seven straight points and six offensive rebounds to keep the Celtics on top.

Boston improved to 4-0 when Williams gets 10-plus points and 10-plus rebounds.

Williams tweaked his left ankle -- the same ankle that forced him to miss last week's overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers -- late in the fourth quarter but stayed in the game. His status will be worth monitoring heading into Wednesday's big matchup vs. Joel Embiid and the Sixers.