After a surprise home loss to the Detroit Pistons, the Boston Celtics hope to flip the switch when they face Eastern Conference leaders the Milwaukee Bucks.
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The Detroit Pistons rolled into Boston's TD Garden on Wednesday night firing on all cylinders. Behind a vintage Derrick Rose performance, the Motor City squad ran right over the Celtics, 116-103, all while shooting a season-best 60.3 per cent from the field, including a whopping 76.1 per cent from inside the three-point arc on 46 attempts.
Though several of Detroit's attempts came in difficult fashion - running floater, contested mid-range pull-up and turnaround step-back variety - there were also many preventable shots, of which Celtics coach Brad Stevens was sure to address after the game.
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"The baskets you can never give away are the cuts, the lay-ups and the transition, when they just get behind you and drive to the rim," Stevens said. "You always start there. I'm guessing they had 20 points on those, maybe more? Right there you are probably getting beat in most NBA games if you give up that easy of plays."
Most of Detroit's offensive production came from five individuals, as Sekou Doumbouya, Andre Drummond, Markieff Morris, Svi Mykhauliuk and Derrick Rose combined for 103 points on 42-of-55 shooting. Doumbouya, Drummond and Rose didn't miss a single shot from inside the arc, where they combined to shoot a perfect 25-for-25.
"They just played well," said Kemba Walker, who tallied 19 points for the Celtics. "From the beginning of the game, they came out extremely aggressive and focused, and they took that one."
Boston will have to flip the switch immediately for part two of their back-to-back, as they visit the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks in the early hours of Friday morning (1am), live on Sky Sports Arena.
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Boston will look to use their frustrating loss to Detroit as fuel to power a potential road upset.
"I think we're going to be motivated to play (Milwaukee)," Jaylen Brown said after posting his sixth double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds) of the season.
"We didn't come with the right energy (against Detroit) and teams are looking to beat us, man. We have been saying that all year. And we didn't come out with the type of aggressiveness for a game that we needed, so we lost. And that was all-around. Everybody has got to be better."
It all starts with their effort on the defensive end - limiting the cuts, lay-ups and transition buckets, which they were unable to do against Detroit.
If they play in that way against a Bucks team that is currently on pace to win 70 games, it will surely spell disaster again.
"You have just got to want it more," said Walker, who expects himself and his team-mates to rise to the occasion in Milwaukee. "Especially after a loss like this, you've got to want to go in and do what we can to try to get a win against the best team in the league."
The Celtics know it is an accomplishable feat. They ousted this same Bucks team 116-105 on October 30 in Boston.
Though, as Stevens noted before boarding the team plane late on Wednesday night: "The road gets tough."
And his team will have to play a lot tougher in order to have a chance at another win over Milwaukee.