2/12 Game Preview: Pistons at Celtics
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown rank among the top 15 in scoring in the NBA. The Boston Celtics' duo showed on Thursday they can also be a lethal combination as playmakers.
They combined for 19 assists in a 120-106 win over Toronto.
The Detroit Pistons will have the dilemma of deciding how to guard them when they visit Boston on Friday.
With Tatum and Brown finding their teammates, the Celtics made 20 of 39 3-point shots. Semi Ojeleye scored a career-high 24 points and reserve Payton Pritchard tossed in 20 as both drained six 3-pointers. Kemba Walker had 21 points, including five long balls, after scoring a combined 21 points in the previous two games.
"Those guys are so talented and there's so much attention on those guys. They just made the right plays tonight," Walker said. "They're very capable of that. They're special guys and they really wanted to get guys involved, especially me. They really wanted to get me more involved tonight (because) I've been struggling, obviously."
Coach Brad Stevens liked the way his team responded after losing five of its previous seven games.
"Our whole team knew that Toronto does as good of a job as anybody in the league in loading up on great players and showing them a lot of attention, so you have to be a willing, quick decision-maker and those guys know that," Stevens said. "Both of those guys are in the group of players that draw a lot of attention, so it's something they're going to have to continue to do for us to be the best that we can be."
The Pistons are also playing the second game of a back-to-back. They were defeated at home by Indiana, 111-95, on Thursday.
Detroit was coming off a 122-111 victory over Brooklyn in which it shot a season-high 56 percent. The Pacers limited the Pistons to 44.7 shooting overall and 17.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Detroit coach Dwane Casey felt his team didn't play with enough toughness.
"We got bumped and hit and didn't respond in the proper way against a physical team like Indiana," he said. "We talked about it before the game, it's going to be a different approach than we had against Brooklyn. Brooklyn is more of a finesse team. This team is a beat-you-up, bang you and wear you down (team) and they did in the second half."
The Pistons are down to one natural center, rookie Isaiah Stewart, who scored a career-high 17 points. Starting center Mason Plumlee sat out with right elbow bursitis and is unlikely to play on Friday.
Without Plumlee patrolling the middle, Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis racked up 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
"You miss the rolling, you miss the screening, you miss his length and size against Sabonis," Casey said. "I thought Isaiah scrapped as much as he could but he's a young kid."
Jeremi Grant will look to bounce back from one of his worst offensive outings of the season. After scoring 32 points in consecutive games, he was held to nine points on 4-for-17 shooting Thursday.
Boston and Detroit split their first two meetings in early January. The Pistons won the first one, 96-93, behind Grant's 24 points. The Celtics squeaked by in the rematch, 122-120, with Brown scoring 31 points.