Thursday, May 29, 2008
A win is a win is a win. However, if there was ever a victory that should bring more fear to a Celtics fan's heart, I can't recall when it may have taken place.
Last night, the Celtics showed their fans why they should have every right to expect this series to be wrapped up in Detroit on Friday night. They also showed us why it shouldn't be tremendously shocking if they have to come back to Boston for a game seven on Sunday, and then lose that game. They were, collectively, basketball's version of Jekyll and Hyde.
Kendrick Perkins was a beast. He had the best game of his career thus far, scoring 18 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. He also blocked shots, made steals, and played tenacious defense.
Kevin Garnett was fairly unstoppable on his way to a 33 point night. The Pistons have nobody who can stop him on anything approaching a regular basis.
Ray Allen broke out of his shooting slump with cold-blooded vengeance, hitting 5 three-pointers in 6 attempts. He was his usual deadly self from the free throw line.
Rajon Rondo played all but two minutes of the game. He dished out 13 assists and committed only ONE turnover.
Rajon Rondo played all but two minutes of the game.
I'm as big a Rajon Rondo fan as there is on this planet. I think he's a very special ballplayer. He will be a premier point guard for a long time in this league, and will make plays that show up in NBA highlight reels for years and years afterwards. Last night, however, he made some of the worst passes I've ever seen. He was lucky to come out of this game with 13 assists and only one turnover.
There were four or five times when Rondo softly lobbed a pass and Detroit was only able to get a fingertip on it. Those should mostly have ended up as steals. In addition, he was far too cute with the ball at times. In particular, there was one no-look backwards pass to a double-teamed Garnett that Doc Rivers should play over and over to Rajon while he has his eyelids propped open a la A Clockwork Orange.
Rajon wasn't the only one with failings. With all that the Celtics did right - and they did a lot right - they still had to hang on by their fingernails in the closing minutes. Detroit came roaring back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit, cutting the lead to ONE with under two minutes to play. The Celtics made poor decisions down the stretch, were lazy with passes, and could not find a way to crack the Pistons defense when Detroit pressured the ball in the backcourt. If I'm Detroit head coach Flip Saunders, I'm seriously considering going all Hubie Brown on the Celtic's asses, pressuring and double-teaming from the opening tap until the final buzzer.
Doc Rivers coached a whale of a game. He made the decision early on to keep Perkins in the game longer than he usually does, which was an easy decision considering how monstrous Perk was on the boards, of course. He made a switch to Sam Cassell at point, but when Sam didn't produce within two minutes - and looked fairly horrible overall - he yanked him quick, fast, and in a hurry, going with Rondo for the remainder of the game, sink or swim. He made the right substitutions late when the Celtics were fighting to hang on. I have no major gripes with Doc today.
Having said that, he now has to find a way for his team to handle that Detroit defensive pressure. If he can't, it's not going to be pretty.
The Celtics should win game six in Detroit. They are the better basketball team.
The Celtics probably won't win game six in Detroit. They have yet to prove that they can operate well from anything other than a big lead in the fourth quarter. If Detroit rattles them in Detroit in the same fashion as they did in Boston during last night's fourth quarter, the Celtics will not win.
I expect they'll have to come back to Boston for a deciding game seven. And anything can happen in a game seven.
The Celtics should win this series, but I'm far from supremely confident that they will.
For purposes of our little contest, the Celtics have now scored a total of 460 points. That is an average of exactly 92 per game. Low winning score would now be 644 - if the average holds up - and the high winning score would be 1288. In any case, the prize is still 10 (crummy) CDs, so I don't suppose you're sweating it too much.
If somebody murders Jeff Van Gundy between now and game six, I won't be overly disappointed. After listening to his inane commentary for five excruciating nights, I completely understand why he is no longer a coach in this league. The man truly doesn't have a clue.
I know that some of you are tiring of basketball talk. Stick with me. I'll have some swell non-basketball stuff following the playoffs. In the meantime, I appreciate your indulgence.
AN OUTRIGHT LIE
Soon, with more better stuff.