Jayson Tatum and the Celtics seem to be in a great mood: 5 takeaways from Celtics vs. Pistons

The Celtics won their fourth game in a row on Friday for the first time this season.

Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics dunks next to Kelly Olynyk of the Detroit Pistons during the second half. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Here are the takeaways as the Celtics beat the Pistons 102-93 on Friday, their fourth win in a row for the first time this year.

1. Former Celtics assistant coach Jerome Allen — now an assistant with the Pistons — used to talk trash to Tatum at practice “every day” so Tatum said he expected a little in his first matchup against Allen on Friday.

Allen, however, might regret an admittedly pretty funny line. Coming out of the halftime break, Allen told Tatum he “might as well put on a coach’s polo” after scoring just five first-half points.

“I was like, ‘All right, I got something for you,'” a smiling Tatum told reporters after the game.


Tatum scored four quick points, then started burying 3-pointers when the Pistons threatened to cut into the Celtics’ comfortable lead. Before long, the game was out of reach again, and the Pistons wouldn’t threaten again until all of the Celtics’ starters were removed late in the fourth.

“We’re gonna see the Pistons again soon,” Tatum said. “Jerome was here — not Jerome. We call him Pooh. Pooh was here for my first four years and that’s like family. So we obviously miss him, especially the guys that built a relationship with him. But we was happy to beat him, because we wouldn’t have heard the last of it if we lost.”

After the game, everyone seemed to be in a great mood, and Tatum seemed particularly relaxed. He even bantered a little bit with reporters — something of a rarity for the Celtics star.

Winning has a way of bringing out good vibes, and for the first time in a while, the Celtics are winning consistently.

2. Tatum had an odd game — 24 points, 19 of which came in the third quarter. The other five came in the first 1:10 of the game, when it looked like he might be on track for a big night.


Meanwhile, Tatum also threw down two monstrous dunks, just two days after he put Mason Plumlee on a poster. Tatum certainly isn’t a stranger to dunking, but he’s had three uncharacteristically emphatic ones in two games, which is an interesting development.

3. There’s something of a Chicken/Egg argument to the notion that Ime Udoka has seen a lot of success since he shortened his rotation. It probably was a good idea to stop trying to thread a needle that refused to thread and simply play his best players and best lineups. Perhaps the young players on the team would be less likely to nearly blow a 20-point lead if they had been afforded other opportunities. But maybe the young players were never going to develop in their current roles. Basketball can be a complicated sport.

Ultimately, of course, the Celtics won’t complain much about the results to this point, and Udoka deserves a lot of credit for this recent turnaround — credit many of his harshest critics on Twitter, incidentally, might need to hand over at some point soon.

4. Prior to Friday’s game, Tatum said he believes Rob Williams could compete for a Defensive Player of the Year award at some point in his career. More games like Friday will only boost Williams’ case — the Celtics nearly held the Pistons below 80 points until their late surge, and Williams was stalwart at the rim with five blocks.


The Celtics have the best net rating in the NBA over the last 10 games (+12.8) largely thanks to their defense — a 99.7 defensive rating. The next-closest team over that same span is the Warriors at 107.3.

“Our physicality from the start,” Ime Udoka said when asked what stood out about the defense. “Other than a few mistakes on switches in the first half, we looked at halftime, I think they had seven or eight points. We could have kept them in the 20s honestly, other than a few mistakes there, but our attention to detail, non-shooters vs. shooters, and then making it tough on [Jerami] Grant and [Saddiq] Bey and some of those guys early. …

“Our carry over is good, our physicality has been there, and we’re kind of buying into that defensive mentality and making it hard on teams every night.”

5. We’ll close with another Robert Williams note, because he remains the most fascinating player on the team. On Friday, he finished with four assists, three of which were to Jaylen Brown. All three passes to Brown resulted in shots in or around the paint — Williams and Brown have a real high-low connection.

The high-low Williams-Brown connection is an interesting one because it’s something uniquely possible due to Williams’ passing and Brown’s physical ability in the post.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a player throw a cross-court post entry pass? Williams is a very fun player.


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