The lowly Detroit Pistons have been the only team able to hang with the Boston Celtics over the past month.But the C’s found a way to take care of business Saturday in Detroit.
After going back and forth with the Pistons for much of the game, Boston ripped off a 15-2 run in the fourth quarter to pull out 113-104 win at Little Caesars Arena.The Celtics now are 11-1 in their last 12 contests, their lone loss coming to Detroit on Feb.16.
Jaylen Brown (27 points) and Jayson Tatum (26 points, 11 rebounds, six assists) led the way for Boston, but Payton Pritchard (19 points, six assists) also gave the Celtics huge boost off the bench in the second half.
[Celtics Talk: Does everyone owe Ime Udoka an apology?]
No.1 overall pick Cade Cunningham racked up 25 points and seven rebounds for Detroit.
Here are our takeaways from a win that moves Boston to 36-26 and just a half-game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No.5 seed in the Eastern Conference:
Jayson Tatum in a giving mood
Tatum has been an excellent facilitator during the Celtics’ recent hot streak, and he continued that trend Saturday.
The three-time All-Star recorded five assists in the first quarter alone — his most in a single quarter this season — including this beautiful cross-court feed to Derrick White for a corner three:
Tatum only tallied one more assist over the final three quarters, but he’s now averaging north of five assists per game over his last 12 contests, 11 of which are Celtics wins.
The Celtics are at their best when the ball is moving, and that ball movement starts with their star player, whose passing has been key to Boston’s recent success.
‘P-Rabbit’ helps C’s run away with win
We’ve heard a lot about the Celtics’ elite starting five , but Pritchard may have been the difference-maker in this one.
The second-year guard scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and hit 8 of 12 shots (3 of 5 from three).
Pritchard showcased the offensive fearlessness that helped him thrive as a rookie and played central role in Boston’s fourth-quarter surge.
Ime Udoka has leaned heavily on his starting five and reserves Derrick White and Grant Williams.But he gave Pritchard 27 minutes Saturday (his fifth-most minutes this season) and “P-Rabbit” rose to the occasion.
Any production the Celtics can get from Pritchard will be huge as they try to keep their legs fresh entering the postseason.
Cade Cunningham is the real deal
The Pistons kept this one close until the final minutes, and Cunningham was a big reason why.
The talented rookie scored 22 of his 25 points inside the 3-point line, using his 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame to create space in the paint and get to his spots.
“He’s very mature for his age,” Udoka said of Cunningham after the game.”Has a great savvy and pace to him, and you can see what he’s gonna be, what he already is.Uses his body well, gets to where he wants to go on the court.He gave us some problems.”
Detroit’s futility means Cunningham probably won’t win NBA Rookie of the Year — Cleveland’s Evan Mobley is the heavy favorite — but the Pistons got a stud with the Oklahoma State product.
Unstoppable force vs.immovable object
We almost got a heavyweight bout in the first half when Marcus Smart and Isaiah Stewart got into after the whistle.
Celtics fans know Smart won’t back down from anyone — but neither will Stewart, who came after Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James earlier this season.
It’s probably for the best that nothing happened here, because a Smart vs.
Stewart altercation would have gotten real in a hurry.
The Celtics are right back at it Sunday in Indiana against the Pacers.Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.ET..