Celtics-Pistons: The Aftermath
Like a lot of people who have been following the Celtics playoff run closely, I was unsure what to make of their weekend in Detroit. The breakthrough win on the road and the absolute dud in Game 4 put me somewhere between Bob Ryan’s “just not acceptable” and Tony Massarotti‘s “try not to sweat this game so much” lines of thinking.
Ultimately, I’m left feeling like I still don’t get this team — which may be the most frightening thought of all.
1. It’s All About the Big 3
For the 735,621 time: What Big 3 are we talking about here? As just about everyone should know by now, Rajon Rondo is, at least, the third most important player in the Celtics lineup. So while Ray Allen‘s shooting struggles are certainly a sidebar in all of this, they are not part of the main story. Neither is looking at a bunch of box-score stats post-game and drawing far-ranging conclusions like: The Big 3 need to step up! Etc.
So, here’s what we have: Paul Pierce did not have two of his better games in Detroit, but he still outplayed Tayshaun Prince. Kevin Garnett, who was the best player in the series for the first three games, had his worst game of the playoffs on Monday. Not coincidentally, the Celtics lost. If we must talk about Allen, it should be noted that not only is he struggling with his shot, but also that Rip Hamilton is carving him up. So, sure, those three need to play better.
Which brings us to…
2. The Point Guard Situation
Can we all come to an agreement that Doc Rivers does not have a great choice to make when he subs out Rondo? Both the Eddie House people and the Sam Cassell people (if there are any of them left) have to agree that neither man has distinguished himself in this series. Rondo had his own difficulties in Detroit, or as Chad Finn memorably put it: (Rondo) looked like he was auditioning for an And1 Tour mixed tape.
But despite Rodney Stuckey’s Game 2 heroics, the Pistons point guards haven’t exactly been awesome either. The Celtics point guards shot 9-for-26 the last two games. The Pistons point guards shot 9-for-34. In Game 3, the Celtics were much more efficient, in Game 4, the Pistons were. Bottom line: Neither team’s offense is operating very consistently right now.
It comes down to this: Do you like the team with the healthy, young guard who sometimes drifts into the ozone, or the team with the injured, more experienced guard, who is still capable of hitting the back-breaking shot at the crucial moment?
3. Screw Perspective
This is what we know: Two of the final three games are in Boston. Someone will play with energy tonight, and that team will probably win. Maybe both teams will, which has really only happened once (Game 2). Everything else is just a mood swing, as unpredictable as a Cassell jump shot.