The Detroit Pistons are going to be a problem for the Boston Celtics all season long
The Boston Celtics suffered their fourth loss of the season at the hands of the Detroit Pistons last night. They have the two best records in the Eastern Conference now, and everyone is going to be taking both of them seriously.
The East is in an interesting place right now, because it is still hard to tell what teams will really be able to compete for the full regular season and into the playoffs. Obviously, the Cleveland Cavaliers will never be ignored, and will always be the biggest competition in the way.
The Pistons, however, are looking like the next team the Celtics should be thinking about all year long. They have played phenomenally to start the season, and they have two things that will always be problematic for the Celtics: Andre Drummond and Avery Bradley.
Bradley is the best on ball defensive guard in the league, and is one of the only players in the world who has ever shown a real ability to show down Kyrie Irving, who played shot terribly with multiple turnovers when Bradley was around to guard him.
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Irving can do more himself to try and make up for it, but Bradley will be able to slow him down in ways that no other player can, and that could do a lot of damage to their offense. Bradley puts tremendous pressure on any ball handler, and the Celtics have not established good enough ball movement to trust they can pass their way out of these issues.
The Celtics knew they would be missing Bradley when they traded him, but now that we see how good the Pistons are, the trade is going to hurt even more. The Celtics needed to find a way to replace the defense he brought last season, and now they know that getting to the Finals is likely going to require getting through a player nobody wants to see guarding them.
The other massive problem the Pistons present to the Celtics is Drummond. The Celtics simply do not have any big who can match what Drummond is physically, and losing that interior edge is problematic. The name now has four games with at least 22 rebounds just against the Celtics, and there is a good chance he will add to that every time these teams play.
The Celtics have won a lot of games this year because of their ability to win on the inside, and they are going to need something more when playing the Pistons.
The Celtics did a great job of improving their size, and it has become one of their biggest edges. The odd part is that it was not the size of the forwards that increased. Other than Aron Baynes, the Celtics have a tiny front court, and they have used their wings and ball handlers to get that advantage in the paint.
Unfortunately, those wings and ball handlers wont do much to neutralize Drummond, and he is going to be running wild every time they play. The Celtics have phenomenal versatile bigs that have anchored this defense, but Drummond is a different kind of threat in the interior. The Celtics do not have the personal to really contain him, so it comes down to forcing the Pistons to adjust to their size, or finding another way to make up that difference.
Drummond and Bradley are two of the most troubling players for the Celtics in the East, and that makes the Pistons one of their biggest challenges right now. They do not have to be concerned about bouncing back form this one loss, because they gave themselves good enough of a cushion. That being said, this Pistons team should continue to get better as the season goes on, and they should be right there fighting for home court in the playoffs.
The Pistons may not be true title contenders at this point in the season, but they have a great coach who will continually get more out of his players, and that might be the most pressure the Celtics deal with during the regular season, depending on how the Cavaliers fare once Isaiah Thomas is back.