The Pistons had no idea Big Baby and his silky smooth moves around the basket would end their streak of brutalizing opponents.
After falling one up-fake short December 19th against the tour de force that the Detroit Pistons have become, the Celtics avenged their loss to their renewed rivals at The Palace at Auburn Hills Saturday night.
The two stars of the night were a mix of shock and expectation realized.
Secret weapon Glen “Big Baby” Davis supplied the shock, utilizing his deadly left hand to deliver the knock-out punch against Detroit. Davis came through in the clutch with strong finishes around the rim and impressive free throw shooting. He also played solid defense against the much taller Rasheed Wallace. His contributions off the bench (20 points and 4 boards in only 23 minutes of burn on 8-10 shooting from the field and 4-5 from the line), along with those of Tony Allen (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block on 3 of 6 shooting and 4-4 from the line), gave the C’s a phosporescent spark in the second half.
Paul Pierce provided the expected goods, playing a whopping 46 energetic minutes on the night. While his shooting would lead the casual observer to believe The Truth played poorly, closer inspection shows Pierce performed tremendously. Number 34 sank all 8 of his shots from the line, grabbed 9 big rebounds, dished out 7 assists–many of which were finished by Big Baby in key moments, and had one spectacular steal that he took in for an open court dunk in the final period.
Pierce only scored 19 points on 5 of 16 shooting (1-6 from three), but his constant effort and focus kept the C’s in the game when Detroit looked to stretch its lead in the second quarter, making a strong case for a starting slot in the All Star Game, if only he could be voted in as a shooting guard instead of LeBron’s caddy at small forward. If KG brings the intensity and focus, Paul Pierce brings the grit and fearlessness that have driven Boston.
Kendrick Perkins and Scot Pollard played well in limited minutes as well, making up for lesser nights from Rajon Rondo and James Posey. Ray Allen and Eddie House had solid nights, contributing big lifts with important rebounds down the stretch.
Saturday night showcased Allen’s commitment to defense, as he spent a significant amount of time guarding Chauncey Billups, keeping the physical force of a point guard mostly under wraps. Allen’s ability to swallow his ego and concentrate on defense while relegated to a distant third place in the offensive scheme has made this Green resurgence possible.
The bitter, bruising rivalry that existed between the Celtics and Pistons in the ’80s and early ’90s has returned with a vengeance.
On the Pistons’ side, Jason Maxiell showed he’s a load, and a borderline star. He’s been playing fantastically this season, and most certainly should supplant Antonio McDyess in the Detroit starting line-up next season, if not sooner. Back-up PG Rodney Stuckey showed why people in Detroit can’t stop talking about him, looking like the Vern Troyer to Chauncey Billups’ Mike Myers. The rest of the team submitted typical outings, excluding McDyess and Tayshaun Prince, who failed to live up to their usual standard.
Doc had a nice game as well, keeping his team in it with KG on the bench for much of the first half. Despite a large first quarter deficit, the C’s kept their composure, thanks to some smart time-outs and nice substitutions by their head coach. Doc’s best moves were keeping Big Baby in the game in the latter part of the fourth quarter, when most coaches would have yanked the young fellow, and going offense/defense with Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen over the final couple minutes of the game.
Putting Tony Allen in at the point against Chauncey Billups in the waning moments of a tight game was certainly risky, but paid off once the Celtics gave up the hope that Tony could contain his penchant for turning the ball over when forced to dribble more than twice by having Paul Pierce team with Kevin Garnett to get the ball over half. Playing without a true point guard for stretches is acceptable with this roster, since the Boston Three Party can initiate the offense in the half-court set, but having Tony Allen try to bring the ball up against quick hands is a bit too much to ask.
For one night at least, bravo, Messieurs Davis, both of you.