Keys to the Game

Keys to the Game: Celtics 91, Pistons 81

Key Moment
Key Player
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night

Key Moment

The Boston Celtics entered Sunday afternoon ranked ninth in the NBA in 3-point percentage, at 36.9 percent.

They shot 100 percent from long range in Detroit when it mattered most.

The Pistons had battled back from 18 points down to make it a four-point game with 3:06 remaining in Sunday’s matchup. Boston needed a big bucket, and Al Horford was there to provide it.

Horford flared to his left off of a pick-and-pop at the top of the key with Kyrie Irving, and Irving tossed a pass to him over two defenders. Horford caught the pass, and when Tobias Harris did not close out to defend the 3-point line, Horford let it fly.


That basket pushed Boston ahead 84-77 in the final minutes, but the C’s weren’t done with their clutch 3-point shooting. Horford wasn’t done being a part of it, either.

Following two free throws from Pistons big man Andre Drummond, Jayson Tatum canned his own 3-pointer off of a ‘one-more’ pass from Horford. On the play, Irving drew the attention of two Pistons defenders, and two passes around the horn later, Tatum was wide open on the right wing for his connection from long range.

Tatum’s 3-pointer gave Boston an eight-point lead with only 1:55 remaining on the clock. Marcus Smart and Horford would cap the win off with two more points apiece, and the C’s won 91-81 in Detroit.

Key Player

For the first time in a long time, Kyrie Irving struggled to rack up points Sunday afternoon in Detroit. So who stepped up to keep the Celtics afloat? None other than Al Horford.

We already detailed in the Key Moment section how Horford scored and assisted on the two most important shots of the game, but there was much more to his performance. Horford racked up a team-best 18 points against the Pistons while shooting 7-for-15 from the field. He made five of his eight field goal attempts from inside the 3-point arc.

The offense received a boost not only from Horford’s scoring, but also from his passing. In addition to his assist on Jayton Tatum’s critical 3-pointer at the 1:55 mark of the fourth quarter, Horford also dished out five other assists to total a game-high six on the night.

Horford also contributed nine rebounds, trailing only Aron Baynes’ 13 on the team, to help Boston outrebound Detroit 50-46. He also blocked two shots to tie for the game's top mark.

Box Score Nuggets

  • After allowing Andre Drummond to total 27 points, 22 rebounds and six assists on Nov. 27, the Celtics limited him to six points, 15 rebounds and one assist on Sunday.
  • No player in the game broke the 20-point barrier.
  • Boston's 81 points allowed were a season-low.
  • Tobias Harris scored a game-high 19 points.
  • Al Horford dished out a game-high six assists to go along with 18 points and nine rebounds.
  • The two teams combined to score only two fast break points.
  • Detroit shot only 33.3 percent from the field.
  • Aron Baynes led the Celtics with 13 points.
  • Horford and Eric Moreland tied for the game high in blocks with two apiece.
  • Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum each made three 3-pointers for Boston.
  • Seven of the 10 players who appeared in the game for Boston finished with a positive plus/minus rating.
  • Neither team totaled more than 15 assists (15 for Boston, 14 for Detroit.

Quote of the Night

Last time [the Pistons] got whatever they wanted in the paint. This time we packed the paint and made them play from the perimeter.

Aron Baynes on the team's interior defense Sunday afternoon.

Key Player