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.