The Celtics lost 118-108 to the Detroit Pistons last night and, while Detroit has proven to be a good team this season, the Celtics letting the Pistons push them around to the extent that they did was stunning. The Celtics came into last night’s game with the league’s best defense, but apparently no one told the Pistons that. Deroit put up numbers on the Celtics that no one else has all season.
Losing to the Pistons in and of itself isn’t a terrible loss. The Pistons are a good team that spaces the floor and can create mismatches for their best players, but the Celtics highly regarded “switchability” on defense went out the window last night as Detroit continuously abused the Celtics reliance on switching as evidences by the Tobias Harris’ possessions at 0:20 and 1:50 here:
They had a chance to get it back to a 3 point game a couple of times down the stretch, but with 1 minute to go Irving, who was 0-4 with 1 point in the 4th quarter, missed a three pointer out of a double team right off the inbound pass and then on the ensuing possession Marcus Smart did this:
The Celtics are capable of playing better defense, taking better shots, and making better decisions. It’s just a matter of wanting to. The Celtics aren’t the Cavaliers or the Warriors, they can’t just take nights off and turn it on when they want to. They’re not as talented as those teams. They need to play hard every night and get home court advantage if they want to stand a chance of making it to the NBA Finals and games like last night just can’t happen. The Cavaliers struggles are over. They’re only 3 games behind the Celtics in the loss column and Isaiah Thomas is getting closer and closer to returning to the court. If the Celtics start losing games because they’re not trying, they lose one of their biggest advantages over the rest of the NBA: Their effort.
It was all too clear which team cared and which team didn’t last night and for the first time in a long time, the team that didn’t care was the Celtics.