Celtics-Pistons: Game 1

1190922388Throughout the playoffs, Doc Rivers has played the role of stern parent with Rajon Rondo—never praising too much, and usually finding fault with something. But before Game 1, Doc came out strongly for his second-year point guard after yet another question about Chauncey Billups and how Rondo can’t defend him. “Rondo’s heard all year what he can’t do,” Doc said. “We’re here because of Rondo. Somebody’s going to have to guard him.”

That somebody isn’t Billups. At least, not right now. At some point, the rest of the national press is going to realize that Rondo is a hell of a player. Might as well be now.

1. Forget the fourth quarter, Kevin Garnett dominated from tip to buzzer last night, but he did it his way. Twice down the stretch, KG passed up decent shots for better ones. First, he found Kendrick Perkins for a lay-up, and later he fed Rondo for a wide-open jump shot. For everyone who wants Garnett to be Hakeem Olajuwon, you might as well get used to it.

2 . Fearless Prediction: Billups will have a much-better Game 2. He was tentative at the start and the Pistons wanted no part of him on Rondo, opening up with Rip Hamilton guarding Rondo. In the fourth, Billups started feeling it, even going down to the block for a post-up. It remains to be seen if Billups’ lackluster performance was the result of rust or if his hamstring injury is going to linger.

3. Fearless Prediction II: We’ll be seeing Sam Cassell sooner, rather than later. Doc stuck with Eddie House last night, who had a few ball-handling issues and also drew the ire of Paul Pierce on a defensive rotation.

4. Fearless Prediction III: Ray Allen is about to break out. He was better last night. Not good; better. He was aggressive going to the basket and he created a couple of shots in the flow, as well. (Note to Shaughnessy: It was his step-father who was involved in the weird murder-for-hire scheme, not his father-in-law),

5. The Celtics have been going the no-layups route since the Cleveland series. Somewhat strangely, Detroit was passive defending the basket in transition (witness Allen’s two-handed dunk with two Pistons lurking). Of all the little things he does, no one gives a hard foul better than P.J. Brown.

The old saw about a playoff series doesn’t really begin until someone wins on the road? It couldn’t be more apt in this series, but last night’s performance by the Celtics was mighty impressive considering it came about 48 hours after finally beating the LeBrons.