By MyFM's Jake Archer - The Boston Celtics needed to get off to a good start after the long layoff of the NBA All Star break. Things had not gone well leading into the week off and many were beginning to question what this team was actually capable of. The team did their best to answer that, as much as they could, in wins over the Pistons and Knicks on Friday night and Saturday night.
In Detroit, the C's were facing what has become a somewhat formidable opponent with the addition of Blake Griffin. The first quarter was a bit of a slow start for Boston as they were outscored 28-23. In the second though, they kicked it into gear and went on a 21-5 run that would open the game up a bit. Boston held a 61-49 lead going into the half.
Late in the third quarter, the Pistons closed to within four before Boston rattled off seven straight points. Early inn the fourth, they'd get the lead to 20 and all but put the game away. Kyrie Irving racked up 18 points, five rebounds, six assists and a steal for the Celtics but he was not actually the star of the game. That title would go to the big man Daniel Theis who scored a career high 19 points and grabbed seven boards, two steals and two blocks after coming off the bench to replace an injured Aron Baynes in the first quarter. Jayson Tatum had 15 points in the win. Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier had 15 and 11 off the bench, respectivley.
In his first game back from injury, Marcus Smart played 26 minutes and dropped 12 points while throwing out six assists and grabbing three rebounds off of the bench. It was a welcome return to action after the C's missed him for 11 games. Detroit had all of their starters in double figures, led by guard Ish Smith with 20 points. Their problem was getting much from the bench, and that would ultimatley prove to be the difference in the 110-98 Boston win.
On Saturday, the Celtics met up with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden where they own a 69% winning percentage since 2001. That's better than their mark in Boston. The game was tight through the first half as Boston only led by three at the break. Kyrie was cold from beyond the arc in the first half, going 1 for 6. That did not deter him though as he scored 14 straight points in the third quarter with four three-pointers. Irving had one of his best games as a Celtic and ended up with 31 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two steals.
Jaylen Brown scored 24 points to contribute and Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier all were in double figures. Former Michigan great Trey Burke was keying the Knicks attack with 26 points off of the bench. It's no doubt that this New York team misses Kristaps Porzingis, who is out for the year.
Even though it is encouraging to see the Celtics come out with two wins, they aren't satisfied and they made sure to hammer home the point that they've got to keep building. As of right now, they sit a half game back of Toronto for first place in the East. They'll host Memphis tonight in Boston looking to keep the momentum going.