Celts Avoid Disaster, Hang On To Win

This column should start by welcoming Ray Allen to the playoffs – thanks for deciding to play on Wednesday, Ray. But the real story is Boston’s play down the stretch. Holding a 17 point second half lead at home in the playoffs, as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter, the Pistons had no right to even have a chance in the final minute. The Celtics fell apart down the stretch – again. Go to the Atlanta series, the Cleveland series, now against Detroit, each time closely contested game Boston plays in they struggle to finish out the game.In Game 7 against Cleveland they got a few big plays, just enough to stave off Lebron. Last night, they needed to rely on the big cushion they built early, and foul shots down the stretch. The problem: nobody wants to take the big shot late in the game.

Garnett led the way with 33 points, but each time he touched the ball in the fourth the Big Ticket looked pass first. The last few possessions, Detroit was able to lay off him on the perimeter since he didn’t even look to shoot.  Allen did most of his damage early, canning five three’s, none late in the game. Kendrick Perkins provided the big role player performance that teams need to win playoff games. His only contribution in the fourth – a technical foul. Trumping Rasheed Wallace to see who can make the biggest mental mistake as late in the game as possible.

Eventually the lack of mental toughness, that missing killer instinct that the champions have, will catch up with Boston. Surprisingly, it hasn’t yet. But this series is not over. Detroit rides a wave of confidence into Game 6, back at The Palace.

Chauncey Billups was back to his old tricks, 26 points and 6 assists, in a big game. Backup Rodney Stuckey continued to play solid off the bench, stepping up with a big three pointer late – clearly he’s not afraid to take a big shot. Detroit – the king of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – needs to bring the defensive intensity they showed in the fourth quarter, for the entire game. Boston finished over 50% shooting for the game, and dominated the rebounding battle. A vaunted defensive unit, Detroit cannot win giving up 100+ points, they need to play with urgency and intensity for four quarters.

Billups, Hamilton, even Wallace, played solid most of the game on offense. Yet, the sparkplug I keep mentioning, the Pistons equivalent to Ginobili, Tayshaun Prince, still has his head in the sand. Another non-descript performance. He needs to make his presence felt, defensively, offensively, on the glass, in some way. He’s multi-talented, its time to show some of those talents.

Anyone that says they can predict what will happen Friday is crazy. We’ve seen Boston fail to crack 70 on the road, and we saw them steal Game 3 in Detroit. We’ve seen Detroit look unbeatable and unworthy of being a playoff team from a game to game basis in this postseason. With Billups appearing healthy – though Rip Hamilton appeared to injure his elbow late in the game – the Pistons get the edge at home, especially since Boston still looks shaky on the road. If the game is close, or any game here on in is close, Boston has to prove they can hit a big shot and close out a game. Until then, the Celts are walking a dangerous line.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: