Boston — The majority of the Pistons’ opponents throughout the early part of this season only possessed one All-Star on their team.
However, Detroit had its hands full on Wednesday with two of the best young forwards in the NBA in Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The dynamic duo took turns picking the Pistons’ defense apart.
Tatum, who entered the game scoring 31.2 points per game, was locked in on both sides of the floor from the opening tip. His most impactful sequence of the game occurred in the third quarter as he blocked Cade Cunningham’s layup attempt and moments later, splashed a 3-pointer on the other end. Immediately following the shot, he blew a kiss with his 3-point sign to the fans inside TD Garden.
Those same spectators erupted as Brown calmly knocked down a stepback 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to give the Celtics a resounding 16-point lead.
Brown and Tatum combined for 61 points to lead the Celtics (8-3) to a dominating 128-112 win over the Pistons (3-9). Celtics rookie forward Sam Houser added 24 points on 6-of-12 from beyond the arc.
Cunningham was among the group of Pistons who watched the Celtics face off against the Miami Heat inside TD Garden earlier this year during the Eastern Conference Finals. The purpose was for the group, comprised of Cunningham, Isaiah Livers, Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes, to get a feel for what the playoff atmosphere was like.
Cunningham has traditionally played well against the Celtics, scoring 20 or more points in all three games as a rookie last season. However, the second-year star struggled tremendously on Wednesday. He finished with just four points on 1-of-11 shooting from the field, including 0-of-6 from the 3-point line.
Cunningham was scoreless through the first 24 minutes of action and missed his first eight shots. His first basket of the game didn’t occur until the 10:14 mark of the third quarter when he had a wide open layup.
Detroit rookie Jaden Ivey arguably played his best game of the season against the defending Eastern Conference champions. The former Purdue star appeared aggressive from the opening tip as he passed over a 3-pointer and instead drove to the basket to draw a foul on Marcus Smart, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
The play showed an assertive side of Ivey, who also crashed the boards as if he was a 7-footer on Wednesday. Ivey was a menace on the boards in the first quarter of action. He had seven rebounds in the first five minutes of play and recorded a double-double by just before halftime. He finished with a team-high 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, his third double-double of the season.
Saddiq Bey made his living at the free-throw line, adding 18 points and four rebounds. Jalen Duren tallied a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Bojan Bogdanovic had 17 points. Stewart scored 12 points and grabbed 19 rebounds.
Another bright spot for the Pistons on an otherwise gloomy night was the play of Hayes. The third-year guard has struggled through his early part of the year, but he played his best game of the season against the Celtics. He connected on his first 3-pointer of the game, but his confidence shined through when he found himself in an isolation situation with Tatum as his defender in the first half. Hayes pulled together a string of dribble moves that got Tatum on his toes and knocked down a tough mid-range jumper.
Hayes totaled a season-high 16 points on 7-of-12 from the field.
The Pistons will look to bounce back against the New York Knicks on Friday. Detroit lost its first meeting of the season to New York in a lopsided 130-106 loss on Oct. 21.