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Keys to the Game: Celtics 117, Pistons 108

Key Moment

The shorthanded Celtics had their hands full Saturday night against a young Pistons team eager for payback after suffering a loss at TD Garden just three nights prior. However, Boston was able to fight its way out of trouble thanks to a 3-point flurry to close out the third quarter, which paved the way for its sixth straight win.

While missing three starters (Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, and Rob Williams) and their sixth man (Malcolm Brogdon) on the second night of a back-to-back, the C’s found themselves in a 74-70 hole midway through the third quarter. Then, the threes started to fall.

The C’s knocked down five triples in the final five minutes of the frame, sparking a 19-7 run and turning their four-point deficit into an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Jayson Tatum, who logged 15 points in the third, knocked down the first two treys. Payton Pritchard, getting some extra run in due to Brogdon’s absence, canned the third. Marcus Smart swished the fourth and Grant Williams rained in the fifth just before the end-of-quarter buzzer.

Boston carried its momentum into the fourth where it went up by as many as 13 points before coasting to a 117-108 win.

Key Player

Missing so many key teammates, this was a game in which Jayson Tatum needed to show out.

And he sure did.

JT helped make up for the absences of Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, and Al Horford by erupting for a season-high 43 points in Detroit, shooting 14-of-28 from the field, 7-of-15 from 3-point range, and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.

The All-NBA wing also tied Grant Williams for the team lead in rebounds with 10, dished out three assists, snagged one steal and blocked one shot.

The most impressive part was that Tatum found enough energy to play 41 minutes after playing 37 the night before against Denver. Against two physical teams in back-to-back nights, that’s no easy task.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Four Celtics starters had season-highs in points: Jayson Tatum – 43, Grant Williams – 19, Marcus Smart – 18, Blake Griffin – seven.
  • Williams also corralled a season-high 10 rebounds for his second career triple-double.
  • Tatum finished with a double-double as well, matching Williams in the rebound column.
  • Smart logged game-highs in assists (10) and steals (five).
  • Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons in scoring with 28 points.
  • The game featured 17 lead changes and 11 ties.
  • Detroit fell behind by double-digits for its 14th time in 14 games.
  • Payton Pritchard was a game-best plus-16 in 15 minutes.
  • Derrick White's two blocks accounted for half of Boston's team total.
  • Both teams missed only three free throws, though the C's attempted three more (24) than Detroit (21).

Quote of the Night

"They’re good players and good people. They’re better at playing than I am coaching, so I’m not surprised."

– Joe Mazzulla on if he's surprised by Boston's 10-3 start