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Recap: Celtics 118, Pistons 111


On Sunday evening, the Boston Celtics took on the Detroit Pistons. What happened? Let us take you through it.

Pre-game Quote Of The Night: “We always tell each other how surreal a moment that would be to reconnect in that realm but with the different free agencies that we both have, it could be far-fetched. But it could be possible too.”

-Josh Smith on the possibility of playing with his friend Rajon Rondo.

(CelticsHub’s take: Plz no.)


First quarter: Rondo dominated the first quarter, handing out six assists and attacking the basket. In the process, he showed his growth as a player — in previous years, Rondo likely would have looked to pass almost exclusively. But Sunday, Rondo looked to score as much as he looked to dish, taking what the defense gave him. If the Pistons collapsed on his drives, he found shooters. If they left his defender on an island, Rondo drove to the basket. Healthy Rondo is fun.

Second Quarter: Wasn’t DETROIT supposed to have the size advantage? Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk stretched and attacked the Pistons defense to the breaking point, scoring a combined 23 points in the period as the Celtics pulled away from Detroit to take a 57-49 halftime lead.

Third Quarter: Sloan Conference 2015 Panel: Jeff Green, the hottest of hands. 12 points on 3-pointers, 14 overall for Green in the quarter.

Fourth Quarter: The Pistons threatened several times but were never able to crack Boston’s  lead, and the Celtics closed out well.


Rondo wizarding, Jeff Green finishing. (Credit: @MrTrpleDouble10)

MVP: Jeff Green caught fire in the third, but slow-cooking is always better than searing (at least for this metaphor). Rajon Rondo spent every minute he was on the floor controlling the game, whether by attacking the basket or dishing to teammates. He finished with 11 points and 18 assists.

LVP: Detroit’s defense, specifically around the basket. The Pistons bigs played well on the offensive end, but Sullinger and Olynyk had their way with much bigger players. Monroe isn’t known for his defense and Drummond, as a second-year player, is still inconsistent, but their size and athleticism advantages should have had a bigger impact on Boston’s young bigs.

Takeaways: The problem the pro-tanking crowd often poses with the “importance of development” contingent is based on ceilings. If your best players have low ceilings, developing them while hurting your draft odds is probably the wrong move. If they have high ceilings, developing them is a considerably more attractive option.

I have no idea what Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger will be in five years. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are both 20/10 guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both is a massive letdown. But if games like tonight are any indicator, spending time developing them at the expense of some ping pong balls, even if the draft pick suffers, might be very worthwhile.

As you can see, we are trying a new recap format for the rest of the season. Leave us your feedback in the comments.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • phil

    heey, bring the grades baack guys !
    plzzzz !

  • Rage

    Did Rondo have 18 rebounds or assists?

    • Jojo

      Rondo had 18 assists. The most he’s had since 2012

    • Assists, haha. Not sure how I mixed that up, but good catch, it’s been fixed.

  • Nicky Frizzzz

    Every “highlight of the night” clip should be followed by a Brad Stevens reaction shot. Other than that, everything looks good

  • Clay

    Grades, please.

  • check12check

    Is anyone else excited about Olynyk’s progress in the same nearly fanatical sense that I am? I am so impressed with what he is doing, and I swear you can watch him improving every game. I am so thrilled about what his second NBA season is going to look like

    • check12check

      Also, can anyone give me a report on how Green and Rondo seem to be meshing? I try to follow things as much as I can, but since I live in Beijing these days games are on in the morning for me. I’m at work most days, and if I decide to have some fun at night I may not be functional when the weekend games are on. I mostly keep up on stuff by watching NBA game time.

      • hax

        Very Well. When our offense is running, Green can finish near the basket with the best of them. His stats with Rondo playing are better it seems.

        Olynyk’s progress is awesome! He’s like Dirk except faster, taller, more skills. Not as great of a shooter yet but he’s getting there. If he’s not our starting center, I’d like to see him get 20+ mins off the bench, backing up both front court starters.

  • hax

    By the way reddit or something made up an NBA Championship Belt. Basically the Heat started the season with it. If they lose, the winner gets the belt. And so on. Guess who has it now?
    If we go unbeaten, we can win this metaphorical belt!

  • Ping

    About Olynyk, I’m still using caution. He has absolutely improved over the course of the year, but is also still very new. Teams don’t rotate to him on open shots like they do others, and his defense leaves a lot to be desired. Hax compared him to Nowitzki, and that’s a little premature. Dirk’s one of the best offensive bigs ever, and was posting PERs well above 20 by his third year. That said, Kelly is to date the only other 7 footer in history (other than Dirk) to shoot 44/32/80 by this age.

    Dirk is a lofty comparison. It’s ugly to say, but Andrea Bargnani might be a better one. Thing is, Olynyk may already be better. Defense is a question, but his per36 rebounding numbers almost double Barg’s. If he steadies his shooting and gets minutes, it is most definitely worth developing him.

    • hax

      Some kind of zone defense could possibly help if we end up with an KO/Sully front court in the future. Make a wall, nobody gets inside.


    Celebrate that the Lakers and Bulls won the day!
    Hope the length of the Pistons won’t get in our way.
    Expecting to see a high scoring game,
    Pistons blocking shots, Cs the same!

    Hump and Bass great, each with a Rondo assist,
    Cs to open the game–many easy shots missed.
    Hump is aggressive! JOHNSON FOR THREE!
    Great sight on the bench–tho in a suit–is AB!

    On 40% shooting, Cs up 4 start Q2,
    Babb, Sully, Olynyk, Bayless, Pressey–phew!
    Bavetta keeps whistling the defensive three sec,
    But never calls for Olynyk–what the heck!

    All the players and Brad would like to grab,
    10 days more–and more–of Chris Babb.
    Olynyk/Pressey confident! GREEN FOR THREE!
    This Celtics Ball is fun to see!

    Assists: every 72 minutes Drummond averages one…
    Cs up 8 when Q2 was done.

    Cs stopped moving the ball, slowed down the pace,
    Didn’t last long, Green lit up our place!
    As the shot clock ran down, JOHNSON FOR THREE,
    OLYNYK FOR THREE! Cs made seven in Q3!

    Cs best Q3 of the year, up 11 start Q4,
    Rondo great–no TOs!–both ends of the floor.
    Pressey does well staying in front of his guy,
    Bayless hard to the hoop–he can fly!

    Hump is a beast! Love his cheering with the crowd!
    Nice pass, Hump! Sully’s dunk was loud!
    All of the Pistons front court has a double double,
    But Cs, especially Green, causing too much trouble!

    Six Cs in double figures, Rondo’s assists season high.
    Pistons attacking every possession, Cs slowed down…sigh.
    Will Bynum, by himself, took on the Cs every play.
    Huge block and rebound Hump, double double–hooray!

    Cs WIN–by 7–it’s a glorious day,
    We played an uptempo team, and it went our way!
    Somebody pinch me, is this a dream?
    Cs found chemistry and played like a team!