Pistons vs. Celtics Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Thursday night and via FanDuel.|
The Pistons face the Celtics Friday night in Boston in their third meeting of the season after Detroit hosted consecutive games against Boston to start the new year.
The Pistons won the first matchup, 96-93, but the Celtics bounced back to beat the Pistons, 122-120, two nights later. Both teams will be playing on the second leg of back-to-back games after playing on Thursday. The Pistons were blown out by the Pacers, 111-95, while the Celtics beat the Raptors 120-106.
The Pistons have the worst record in the NBA but have been giant-slayers, already boasting six wins over expected playoff teams: the Lakers, Nets, 76ers, Suns, Heat and Celtics. It remains to be seen whether they are the best bad NBA team or the worst good NBA team of all time.
Can they pull another upset against the struggling Celtics on Friday?
If the Pistons hope to cover or pull the upset, they will need Jerami Grant to continue scoring efficiently and Delon Wright to step up. The Pistons will likely be without Blake Griffin, as he will likely rest on the second leg of the back-to-back. Killian Hayes (hip) remains out, and Mason Plumlee (left elbow bursitis) and is questionable after missing Thursday’s game.
The Pistons have gotten consistently good-to-great play from Grant, as he is one of the frontrunners for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Grant is averaging 24.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and he is shooting a career-high 39.5% from 3 in his first season as a primary scoring option. Grant has been excellent this season, but he will need to bounce back on Friday after scoring a season-low 9 points against the Pacers on Thursday.
Two guys that may not make it but deserve to be NBA All Stars are De’Aaron Fox and Jerami Grant.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 10, 2021
Delon Wright hasn’t been efficient this season, but when he has scored, the Pistons have been at their best. He has scored 20 or more points just three times this season, but all three times have come since Jan. 25. In those three games, the Pistons beat the 76ers by 15, lost to the Lakers in double overtime, and beat the Nets by 11.
With the Pistons trading Derrick Rose this week, Wright takes on a more important scoring role, as he took a season-high 16 shot attempts on Tuesday. Wright, like Grant, will also look to bounce back after a rough 3-for-10 shooting night on Thursday where he scored just 6 points.
Wayne Ellington and Josh Jackson will also play key roles for the Pistons. Ellington has been one of the NBA’s elite snipers this season as he has made 49.5% of his 3s. Jackson has been a streaky player for the Pistons, but he is coming off of a strong performance against the Pacers where he led Detroit with 18 points.
If the Celtics win and cover, they will need role players like Semi Ojeleye and Payton Pritchard to step up with Marcus Smart out due to a calf injury and Kemba Walker likely resting. Since Walker made his season debut in mid-January, he has rested on both second legs of back-to-backs, and I would be surprised to see him play against the Pistons. Robert Williams (hip) is also questionable after missing Thursday’s win.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are playing at an All-Star level, and they will need to continue scoring at a high level. Both Brown and Tatum are scoring more than 26 points per game, shooting 42% or better on 3s and have Player Efficiency Ratings of 22 or higher.
Expect them to score against the Pistons’ defense that ranks 22nd in defensive efficiency (113.6) but they will need contributions from their teammates in order to cover against the Pistons, who covered twice already against the Celtics in their two previous meetings.
Semi Ojeleye, Payton Pritchard and Kemba Walker all hit 5+ threes for the Celtics tonight.
It's the first time in Celtics franchise history that 3 players each had 5+ threes. pic.twitter.com/ISZZkJx3pH
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 12, 2021
With the Celtics’ top two point guards (Walker and Smart) likely out, Pritchard and Carsen Edwards will see more usage as ball-handlers (in addition to Tatum and Brown).
Pritchard has impressed this season, as he is making 42.9% of his 3s, and he has been efficient, as his 124.0 points per 100 shot attempts rank in the 89th percentile among combo guards (per Cleaning The Glass). Pritchard and Ojeleye are coming off of a hot shooting night against the Raptors where they each made six of eight 3s and combined to score 44 points. If they can deliver another efficient performance against the Pistons, the Celtics will have a great chance to cover.
Expect Jerami Grant and the Pistons to bounce back after a disappointing performance against the Pacers on Thursday. The Pistons have been giant-slayers this season, and I expect them to give another strong effort against the Celtics. They won and played them close in their first two meetings, but the Pistons played without Ellington both times while the Celtics had Marcus Smart available.
Now Ellington will be available, and Smart is out. With the Pistons coming off of a disappointing loss and the Celtics coming off of a big win, I like the chances of a small letdown for the Celtics against a motivated Pistons team.
I like the value on the Pistons +8.5 — as the Pistons have covered in each of their last four back-to-backs — and would bet them down to +7. If Mason Plumlee is available, I like the value much more and will make a bigger play on the Pistons. Furthermore, if Plumlee plays while Robert Williams (the biggest and most athletic Celtics big) is out, the Pistons moneyline at +295 (with value down to +250) on FanDuel is worth a small play.
Pick: Pistons +8.5 (bet down to +7)