Pistons-Celtics preview: New Year’s day no time to relax for Boston

Justin Quinn
·2 min read

If the Detroit Pistons are going to win the first of two games against the Boston Celtics in Boston’s second such “series” of the season — instituted to diminish pandemic travel — it won’t likely be because they are the better team.

Out not only their best player in veteran forward Blake Griffin and reserve guard Frank Jackson, the Pistons may also be without the services of rookie point guard Killian Hayes and possibly even big man Jahlil Okafor, both of whom are nursing sprained right ankles. And even when healthy, it hasn’t much mattered so far — Detroit currently owns the league’s second-worst record at 0-4, behind only the Washington Wizards.

Still, a lineup of Derrick Rose, Josh Jackson, Jerami Grant, Sekou Doumbouya and Mason Plumlee is good enough to warrant Boston’s respect.

Even if a loss would be mostly the fault of issues that plagued the Celtics as recently as their last loss to the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 27.

Are the defensive lapses and poor communication a thing of the past?

Or an issue that’s going to come and go as the Celtics get their sea legs under them while waiting for point guard Kemba Walker’s return from injury?

Tonight’s tilt with the Pistons ought to be a good test of that, and a potential opportunity to continue experimenting with the rotation players’ capabilities should Boston not find itself fighting to stay afloat against a hobbed, inferior Detroit team hungry for a win.

Expect a Celtics win — perhaps another blowout — but only if lessons learned in Indiana have taken hold.

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