In the immediate aftermath of the Celtics’ game 5 win over Detroit last night, visiting reporters made plans for a return engagement to our fair city. Let’s face it: No one expects the C’s to win in Detroit tomorrow, but that’s a discussion for later. Today, we have the resurrection of Ray Allen, the Dave Cowens-esque performance by Kendrick Perkins, and the gritty 13-assist, one turnover effort turned in by Rajon Rondo.
Oh, and Kevin Garnett had a game for the ages, Rasheed Wallace went all Sheed on the officials, and then there’s the injury to Rip Hamilton. Game 7’s are treated as sacred things, but Game 5’s seem to bring out the mania in a long series, and last night’s 3-hour-plus marathon was certainly manic.
1. Why You Never Give Up On a Shooter
We all know Allen has struggled. Lord knows, he’s been dissected both mentally and physically during the playoffs. Despite his slump, the coaches and players understand that having Allen on the floor, even when he’s firing jumpers with less command than Dice-K has on his fastball, means that attention must be paid. Allen mentioned the pace of the game was faster last night and it certainly was. What had been an 80-possession series, jumped into the 90’s last night. The faster pace benefits the Celtics in general and Allen specifically, but it’s doubtful the Pistons will let them run in the Palace.
2. Doc’s Rotations
With the exception of Allen, no one has come under more scrutiny that Doc Rivers, especially his rotations. Doc tightened things up last night and went with eight players—Eddie House did see some brief situational time. He yanked Sam Cassell after two bizarre minutes in the second quarter, and told Rondo at halftime he would be going the whole way in the second half. Early in the fourth when Allen got a little frisky, Doc quickly subbed in Paul Pierce, and later when James Posey forced the issue, he went right back to Allen. Doc ran a tight ship last night and it paid off.
Also, his decision to foul the Pistons in the final seconds rather than let them try to tie it with a 3-pointer was right on the money, and was perfectly executed by Rondo.
3. It’s Getting a Little Rough Out There
For the first four games, the Celtics and Pistons treated each other almost deferentially. There is obviously much respect on both sides, especially for Chauncey Billups and between Garnett and Rasheed, but things started getting chippy last night and there were times when the refs were on the verge of losing control (Does Eddie F. Rush work every game, or is just me?). It will be very interesting to see who gets the whistle for Game 6 and, presumably, Game 7.
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