Pistons vs. Celtics preview: Doing it again on the back-to-back

Detroit Bad Boys

With the NBA’s emphasis on cutting back on back-to-back games, it feels a bit strange to actually be playing a back-to-back. The Pistons have played in one before during this season, but it is not nearly as commonplace as it was in the NBA three to four years ago, especially for the Pistons.

This one is against another playoff team in the Celtics who have turned around their season a bit after a disappointing start. The Celtics have a talented roster, but things were not clicking for them in the early parts of the season.

The Pistons and Celtics will see each other 3 times in the month of February and this is the first of those meetings.

Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI
When: Friday, February 4 at 7 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (+8.5)

As I mentioned above, the Celtics have turned their season around a bit over the last 10 games, where they are 7-3. A big reason for the turnaround has actually been shortening their rotation a bit. They have kept the rotation down to 8 or 9 players on most nights with the exception of blowout wins.

The Celtics are spearheaded by their duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They just don’t have great depth around them which was leading to some bad losses early in the season when they had a bigger rotation. Some of the blame could be placed on that duo, as their numbers have not been quite as good as last season. There was also some growing pains for their new coach, Ime Udoka.

Jayson Tatum is once again an All Star, although he hasn’t been quite as good as last season. The counting stats are very similar, but he is only shooting 33 percent from three and 43 percent from the field. Jaylen Brown is in a similar boat where the counting stats are similar to last season, but has had a pretty steep drop in both 3-point shooting and field goal percentage.

Both players were expected to make the next big jump to stardom, but they haven’t quite made that jump yet. There is still time and this team will go as far as that duo can take them.

The Celtics condensed rotation has been have Al Horford, Robert Williams, and Marcus Smart in the starting lineup with the those two and their bench rotation has pretty much consisted of Grant Williams, Dennis Schroder, and Josh Richardson. They may toss one of the plethora of middling young prospects they have on occasion, but that is it.

If these 8 guys can stay healthy and handle big minutes the rest of the season, they can probably maneuver their way up the standings a bit, but they need to add more depth.

The Pistons are on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of depth now that they have a healthy roster (outside of Cade Cunnningham, whose status is still up in the air). The Pistons have a deep bench that has been keeping them in games lately as the starters have struggled.

The return of Jerami Grant has definitely helped the starting lineup, as Grant has been simplifying his game a bit since returning. He is shooting open 3s and attacking the basket off the dribble and hasn’t tried to do too much. That is the ideal form of Jerami Grant, and he is still getting plenty of touches.

The Pistons bench is really starting to find their stride led by Killian Hayes, Frank Jackson, Hamidou Diallo, Trey Lyles, and Kelly Olynyk. A few of these guys are probably better than the person starting in their place, but Dwane Casey likes to keep his units together and he wants to get the young guys as much playing time as possible against starters.

It is going to take another solid effort from the Pistons bench to have a chance in this game because the Pistons’ starting lineup is going to be outclassed. Especially if they are without Cade Cunningham.

Boston Celtics (28-25): Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Robert Williams

Detroit Pistons (12-39): Cory Joseph, Rodney McGruder, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Should the Pistons rest Cade Cunningham for a few weeks to get him fully healthy or try to let him play through the injury?

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