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Mar 21, 2024 2:40 pm

Celtics open six-game trip with visit to Pistons

jayson tatum pistons

The Boston Celtics are cruising along with a seven-game winning streak and the Eastern Conference leaders have a golden opportunity to keep the good times rolling during a six-game road trip.

The Celtics begin the journey against the downtrodden, depleted Detroit Pistons on Friday. As it stands now, Boston will only play one team with a winning record (the New Orleans Pelicans) during its trip.

The Celtics (55-14) already defeated the Pistons this week, recording a 119-94 home win on Monday despite starters Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday sitting out that contest.

Holiday also missed Wednesday’s contest against the Milwaukee Bucks due to a right shoulder contusion, but Tatum returned from an ankle injury to score 31 points in a 122-119 victory. They led by 18 points going into the fourth quarter, then shot 27.8 percent from the field in the final period before holding off the Bucks’ late rally.

“There’s going to be games like that,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said. “There’s going to be games where you miss shots, games where it might not go your way, or the other team is making a ridiculous amount of shots, and you’ve got to figure out ways to win. I thought we handled it well.”

All of the other victories during the current winning streak were decided by double digit margins.

“It was good to be in one of those (tight) games. We hadn’t been in one in a little while there,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said.

The Pistons (12-57) need to win five more games to avoid tying or establishing a franchise record for the worst season in franchise history. Considering the state of the roster, it will be a tall task.

Detroit has lost four straight and is relying on two-way players and players on 10-day deals to fill out the rotation.

On Wednesday, the Pistons revealed that starting forward Ausar Thompson (blood clot) and Isaiah Stewart (hamstring strain) would miss the remainder of the season. They were also missing key reserves Simon Fontecchio and Quentin Grimes due to injury in Wednesday’s 122-103 home loss to Indiana.

Coach Monty Williams brushed off the notion that his team can’t compete with what they have.

“No excuse,” Williams said. “I don’t care about the talent level, it doesn’t matter. I’ve spent my whole NBA career overcoming, and that’s just what it is. No player in this league has achieved anything without overcoming. That’s what I’m looking for with this group.

“I told the guys this is the first time where I looked at them in the game and (they) felt sorry for themselves. You could tell tonight. There was a little bit of an emotional whatever, and whether it was officiating or missing shots, we didn’t have the same consistent poise.”

Indiana scored the last nine points of the first half and extended its lead to as many as 26 in the third quarter.

Detroit has used 30 players this season, easily a franchise record.

“It’s definitely different,” Pistons guard Cade Cunningham said. “I just see it as an opportunity to grow as a player, as a leader, as a guard. Making sure we’re organized is a guard’s job, so I find it as an opportunity to get better. When we have all these new guys come in, I try to catch them up to speed to make it easier on them on the court.”

–Field Level Media

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