The Celtics and Pistons faced off last night; this heavyweight battle went a little differently without Ron Artest and Steven Jackson involved.
Last night I decided to write some live notes on the Pistons-Celtics game at the TD Banknorth Garden. Everything below was written live during the game.
There’s an example of the maturity of Paul Pierce; he got hit and missed a dunk attempt but ran back to challenge a shot in the corner defensively.
RAJON RONDO. After getting beasted by Chauncey Billups down on the block Rondo instantly answers by driving right by Billups to the basket. He follows this up by scoring two more buckets in a row, one off his newly added baseline catch-and-shoot jumper.
Rondo adds another jumper off the dribble and a left-handed floater on a drive to the paint. He’s going to be an all-star someday. Think about this team in a few years sans Ray Allen. Rondo could average 16/6/8 and 2.5 steals a game. He has a chance to be that good. His ability to extend the range he’s displaying tonight and get a consistent approach from the free throw line will determine if he reaches his potential.
The Pistons are extremely good, light years ahead of Orlando. These two teams are clearly the class of the East and good enough to be top 4 in the West.
My big question of the night is this: how good is the Pistons bench? They have some nice young pieces now to complement their older stars and that bodes well for their continued run of success (5 consecutive Eastern Conference Finals).
Bill Walton today said Tayshaun Prince is better than Paul Pierce; not that he’s a better value per dollar or anything like that, just straight up better. Pierce is showing Tayshaun what’s up right now, he’s been scoring on him and drawing fouls with veteran scorer’s moves.
This game is being played like a play-off game. The intensity is great. A Conference Finals match-up between these two teams would be phenomenal. If they can avoid injuries they’ll both be even BETTER by then.
Pierce just grabbed his own miss on a free throw and drew a jump ball, which he won. On the same possession KG pulled a George Gervin long-armed move underneath the basket off the drive.
Rip Hamilton just pulled the ol’ shot fake, get the man up in the air and draw the foul move on Ray Allen. Allen should know better than that but it’s not a big deal other than the two points at the line because Jesus doesn’t get caught sinnin’ too often.
Big Baby enters the game about 10 minutes in and quickly picks up two fouls. His learning to play under control will be a key come play-off time.
Rondo takes his first attempt at a three–it was a miss at the end of the shot clock but it looked good out of his hands and the C’s got the ball back. On the ensuing inbounds Ray Ray smoothly finished off a nice bounce pass from Kendrick Perkins amongst the trees.
Allen’s smoothness is back after a brief hiatus due to his ankles bothering him.
ESPN’s got in-game interviews with coaches now? Wow.
Scott Pollard’s back! He picks up a quick steal.
Big Baby takes out Antonio McDyess AND Pollard in one fell swoop.
Doc is apparently going to go with keeping one of the Boston Three Party in throughout the game as he’s left Ray Allen in until deep into the 2nd quarter and is now bringing Tony Allen in only with KG to replace Jesus as the leader of the unit. I like this strategy in big games, but during less important games Doc should really try to limit his stars’ minutes as he has done more of late.
KG is stroking from outside tonight. He even tried a three point attempt that rimmed out.
Rondo just made another nice move on the drive to draw the defense and dish to a surprised Garnett, who travelled because he wasn’t expecting the ball.
The defense has really made its presence felt for both sides in the 2nd quarter as the scoring has halted dramatically.
Perkins announces his presence with authority dunking thunderously after a nice feed from KG. Perk’s real value is in beastin’ it on the defensive end so his offensive numbers aren’t going to impress you…neither will his post game either so that’s good.
Rondo continues his fantastic play tonight, scoring another hoop in the lane.
Ray Ray continues to stroke it nailing another jumper. He’s looking fresh after getting some time off to rest his ankles.
Doc just got himself a technical. Not really sure why he felt that was a good move in this situation.
RAJON RONDO. You cannot stop him. Just got an and-one on the break that you’ll be seeing on SportsCenter. The fans are into it. He misses the free throw, however. That is currently the biggest weakness in his game and he simply must address it.
The C’s are on a little run here and Rasheed answers with a three to slow the momentum slightly. He’s a big time player. Total package: low-post moves, shooting range, passing, rebounding, defense.
Terrible offensive possession out of a time-out by the C’s. They need to be much more aware at the end of a half like that.
Halftime stats of note: There was a total of only 8 points scored by both benches. The C’s are shooting 62.2% from the field and holding the Pistons to only 38.5% shooting. However, the Pistons are 6-14 from three and 9-10 from the line while Boston checks in at 1 of 5 and 5 of 8 respectively. The Celtics have 5 turnovers and the Pistons have 4. The rebounding and assist edges go to the Celtics as well. Outside shooting is keeping the Pistons in this game. On to the second half.
Great defensive play by Rondo to steal a lob pass and save it out of bounds. Pierce assists on a KG jumper to finish the nice play off.
Pierce is struggling shooting tonight but playing pretty well otherwise. That’s a good sign for the 4th quarter.
Ray Allen shows just how great his acting skills are by taking a dive on a “push-off” from Rip. Amazing he didn’t win an Oscar for his performance in “He Got Game.”
Rondo again creating in the paint. Unfortunately, Perkins brings the ball down low and gets stripped because of it, when will he learn that lesson?
Things are getting a little fiesty with some pushing on an inbounds play.
Wow. Rondo is on his game. Pierce spotted him going to the basket right up the gut and he finds Perkins again for a lay-up (he brought the ball down low again but got lucky).
Rasheed hits another three. The Celtics really need to make an adjustment because outside shooting is the only thing keeping this game close right now.
Mr. Big Shot comes up with another three on the break. Doc calls a time-out hopefully to talk about this fact.
Sprite commercials have really fallen off haven’t they? Their newest message is now that if it’s hot and you drink Sprite, the court you’re ballin’ on will turn into a pool and you can swim. What happened to “Obey your thirst”?
Following a ridiculous no call on a clear mugging by Billups Rondo responds with a steal on the next possession. This kid is really impressive tonight.
Nice finish at the rim by Rip; big basket as he keeps it a two point game. KG answers with another mid-range jumper to increase the lead to 4.
The Celtics are flying around on defense preventing the easy shot for the Pistons.
After a foul that the hometown crowd did not approve Chauncey hits all three shots and makes it a one point game.
Rasheed is taking umbrage with KG’s signature drive and hook with the left hand move. I can’t blame the guy, the refs almost never call it.
The Sheed technical watch has officially started after KG semi-mauled him and ripped the ball away, followed up by a great Pierce drive highlighted by Rasheed turning it into an and one. Flip Saunders smartly calls Rasheed to the bench after his 4th foul to calm situation.
KG follows Pierce’s missed free throw with an offensive board and gets fouled heading to the basket.
65-61 Celtics heading into the 4th.
I’m convinced Perkins is one of the worst 20 or 30 offensive players in the NBA.
Tremendous hustle by Eddie House after a sloppy turnover. Rip should have finished that one instead of passing it back to his blind spot.
Dagger by Lindsey Hunter puts the Pistons on top by one and a sloppy turnover by Big Baby leads to a Rip Hamilton dunk to put Detroit up by 3 with 9 minutes left in the 4th. The C’s are having trouble bringing the ball up the court; I think it’s time for Rondo to re-enter the game.
On cue enters Rondo back into the game and the team regains some its form offensively.
Detroit is owning the offensive boards here but fails to net any points after getting 4 quality shots on one possession.
First time of the night that Rondo has made a poor decision when he fires a fastball over Posey’s head in the corner under absolutely no pressure.
The Celtics are going with Ray Allen at the point now with Rondo picking up his 5th foul.
Posey is guarding Billups now; smart move by Doc, but the offense is sure to suffer with no real ball handler on the court.
After a nice outlet pass from Sheed to a breaking Billups on an awful Pierce miss from three the Pistons extend their lead to 78-71. A 7 point lead with 6 minutes left against the Pistons when they’re geared up on defense is gargantuan.
Astrive commercials are possibly the worst productions I have ever seen.
Rondo comes back in with his 5 fouls.
Ray Allen posterizes the entire Piston team. Apparently Jesus can fly as well as walk on water (sorry couldn’t resist that one). This dunk was amazing and the crowd is INTO it now.
Terrible refereeing on an obvious foul on KG heading to the basket. The refs were going to let it go until KG missed the basket and the refs decided they had to make the call. That’s Sheed’s 5th.
79-75 with 5 minutes left. Billups hits a fadeaway to make it 81-75.
Allen’s makin’ it rain tonight. He hits an off-balance jumper in the corner from 3 to make it a 3 point game.
Allen’s foot may have been inside the line. The refs have been pretty evenly mediocre tonight.
With both teams over the limit and 3:54 remaining, this should be a battle of the free throw line.
Mr. Big Shot hits a tremendous step back three to increase the lead to 6.
At this point Ray Allen is keeping the C’s in this game. Detroit is showing its strength and will right now.
Big three by Eddie House to make it a 3 point game. The C’s are going to need to D it up now.
Great defense from the C’s and Ray Ray makes it rain from the heavens with a three on a broken play.
There’s 18.9 seconds left, each team has one time-out remaining and no fouls to give. Doc sends Tony Allen in to gaurd Chauncey. I like this move.
Tony Allen and KG defend the high screen well and come up with a huge steal and smart time-out with 5.1 seconds left. Never thought I’d be saying this but great coaching by Doc here.
The replay shows that Billups just plain and simple lost the ball.
Terrible play drawn up on the inbounds. They gave the ball to Pierce in the corner to take a fall away. If he fakes and draws a foul that’s nice but why isn’t the ball going to Ray Allen?
Pistons have it with 1.7 left at half court. This is scary. The Pistons have hit buzzer beaters on the C’s before. Look for Rip to hit one off a pick.
Horrible play by Tony Allen to lose the game for the Celtics. All he needed to do was stay on his feet. You never block a jump shot there. Stay on your feet. That’s the first rule of defense.
In conclusion, the Celtics played well, they were discombobulated often and Pierce shot poorly. The Pistons looked fantastic. They’re doing their thing once again. Both teams had their chance to win and the Pistons came through when the Celtics couldn’t. Look for a hard fought 6 or 7 game series come the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s a shame the game had to end like that, but it was a microcosm of both teams. Gritty defense, great effort, and Chauncey came through when Pierce couldn’t. A shot fake was the key, one team tried it and drew a foul, the other lost.