The Pistons fought, clawed and scrapped.
But they still lost because the Celtics did all those things, too.
Detroit’s defense held Boston to 86 points, the fewest the Celtics have scored during their league-best 10-game winning streak.
The Pistons turned the ball over just 9 times, the second-fewest Boston’s defense has forced all season.
And Detroit came within eight of Boston, the closest any team has played the Celtics in two-and-a-half weeks.
But Boston leaves the Palace with its league-high 39th win, and the Pistons go home losers in eight of their last 11.
As much as Detroit challenged the Celtics, Boston never trailed.
When Kendrick Perkins head-locked Jason Maxiell and threw him to ground in the fourth quarter, I thought back to the Eastern Conference finals between the Pistons and Cavaliers two years ago.
Cleveland was on a 16-3 run in game six, and Rasheed Wallace picked up two personal fouls and two technicals in 15 seconds. The Cavaliers were pushing Detroit around, and there was nothing the prideful Wallace could do about it. So he lost his cool. And the Pistons eventually lost.
Back to tonight. The Celtics, which had won their last nine by 16.6 per game, had just allowed Maxiell to score Detroit’s last five points on layups and a free throw. So Perkins lost his cool. And Boston eventually won.
The Celtics have the pride and the ability to back it up.
The Pistons have the pride, but they don’t have the muscle to contend anymore.
They got up for this game, but that’s the anomaly lately. With Cleveland and Miami, the other two teams to beat Detroit in the conference finals in the last three seasons, coming to the Palace in the next few days, the Pistons should be ready to go for those games, too.
But they might not even have the tools to do that. Just the pride, and that’s obviously not enough anymore.
- Wallace (12 points and six rebounds) failed to put together his third straight quality game. He’s aging quickly. If he comes back on a one-year contract next year, he might still start. But he’s running out juice quickly.
- The Celtics’ bench outscored Detroit’s by an average of 42.5-26 in the teams’ other two matchups this season. But even though the Pistons played just three reserves (Richard Hamilton, Antonio McDyess and Maxiell), they outscored Boston’s bench players, 22-13.
- Rodney Stuckey had an up-and-down game against Rojon Rondo, the NBA’s best defensive point guard. Stuckey made 7-of-11 shots for 19 points. He also had four assists and two turnovers in 37 minutes. Rondo, defended by Stuckey, dictated the pace on offense, dishing out 12 assists.
- Tayshaun Prince, who shot 1-of-7, was a complete non-factor offensively. McDyess (1-0f-8) didn’t do much, either. But both were solid otherwise. Prince had three steals and a block, and McDyess had 14 rebounds and a block. Still, both need to carry more of the scoring load for Detroit to succeed.
- McDyess started the second half in place of Amir Johnson and played 15 minutes before heading to the bech. Boston outscored Detroit 23-19 in that span. I doubt this is a precursor to moving McDyess into the starting lineup, and I’d be mildly surprised to see McDyess start second halves on a regular basis.
- After the Celtics outscored Detroit 28-19 and 30-10 in the second quarter their two last matchups, the Pistons won the second quarter tonight. Behind eight points from Stuckey and six a piece from Allen Iverson and Hamilton, the Pistons outscored Boston 25-20 in the quarter.
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