Celtics win, 89-81. They held the Pistons to 13 fourth-quarter points in an elimination game. Boston won 66 games during the regular season, but hasn't showed that form much during the postseason so far. The Celtics, however, have been resilient at times. And tonight's performance in a close-out game was impressive. The big guys and the role players all came through. And for all of his wacky moves, such as random player rotations and leaving Ray Allen on an island against Joe Johnson, etc., Doc Rivers did an excellent job with this team. He stayed on the guys about playing hard, didn't desert Allen when he struggled, and pulled this group together beginning in October.
Celtics on a 23-6 run to open the fourth quarter, now lead, 83-76. They're 2:30 away from the Finals.
Pistons played a passionate third quarter, lead, 68-60.
Billups has 18 at the half, but the Celtics lead, 40-37. The Pistons have yet to turn up the intensity, energy and urgency that needs to be displayed to win an elimination game. It's time.
Detroit's greatest strength -- four legitimate all-star caliber players -- is also it's greatest weakness. The Pistons don't have a dominant player. Not only do they not have LeBron James, they don't even have Joe Johnson, who has more sheer talent than anybody on their roster. The Pistons don't have a single player that requires a double-team. Rasheed Wallace has the skills to require a double-team, but he isn't aggressive about posting up often enough to force teams into doing it.
Look back at the loaded 2003 NBA Draft: 1. James (Cle); 2. Darko Milicic (Det); 3. Carmelo Anthony (Den); 4. Chris Bosh (Tor); 5. Dwyane Wade (Mia). Pistons GM Joe Dumars has been criticized for selecting Milicic, and yes, it's deserved. But most arguments have centered on the fact that Dumars should have taken Anthony or Wade. But given Anthony's inability to lead a team at this point, and given Wade's injuries, the pick that would have helped the most is Bosh.
Picture, for a moment, Bosh on this Pistons team. He would be their best player, someone who would require a double-team on the block, which would open up 3-point shooting for Wallace, Billups and Hamilton. Bosh is also a relentless rebounder and shot-blocker too. In some ways, Bosh is the type of player Dumars hoped Milicic had become. That's what he was drafting for, adding that type of player to the roster. He just picked the wrong guy.
Pistons defense is soft early. Both Allen and Pierce have knocked down wide-open 3-pointers with a defender nowhere near the area. Celtics, 14-10.
Pistons are 12-5 when facing elimination the past six postseasons.