And on the second day, Basketbawful gave them a preview of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics. And it was good.
Detroit versus Boston: Game 1
The season series. The Celtics won it 2-1, taking the last two in Detroit and Boston, respectively. But based on the Pistons' championship savvy, and the Celtics' up-and-down-and-up-and-down play in the postseason, you might as well cram all that regular season stuff into a bucket, cover it with something flammable, set it on fire, and then throw it at your little sister. For example.
Rest versus rhythm. Which is better for a team going into the Eastern Conference Finals: What seems like several weeks worth of rest and relaxation, or the continuity of having been playing basketball every other day for the duration of the playoffs? Ray Allen thinks it's the latter. "I would rather have the rhythm" of regular competition than extra rest "because (with) the rhythm you don't have to guess from one day to the next" how you'll play. Which is a funny comment coming from Mr. Shuttlesworth (but more on that below). Here's the thing: If there's one team that's unlikely to be negatively effected by an extended layoff, it's the Spurs. If there are two teams that meet that criteria, the other one is the Pistons.
Ray Allen. He was bad in the second round. I mean bad bad. He averaged something like 5 points on 17 percent shooting. And if you're wondering: Yes, I totally made those stats up. But it sure felt like that — or worse — didn't it? Word on the street is that Ray got in some extra shooting practice yesterday, which kind of like a magician sitting in his bedroom practicing the same card trick over and over. Shooting in the solitary comfort of the team's practice facility isn't the same as knocking 'em down in an actual game with a sweaty hand in your face. But I'm sure Ray's looking for something, anything, that'll break this jinx. Personally, I think he should try some voodoo magic. Now where did I leave those Sankara Stones...
Note: The Celtics' "Big Three" have been downgraded to the Wonderful One-Point-Eight, due to Ray-Ray's miserable -1.20 performance in the second round. I dare you to defy the power of my math.
Home sweet home, Part XXII. Who says you need to win on the road? The Celtics don't. That's the glory of home-court advantage. But after two emotionally and physically draining seven-game series, it's almost impossible for me to imagine the Pistons not winning one of the first two games at the TD Banknorth Garden. I mean, I can't see all the rhythm in the world stopping that.
Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket played better against the Pistons this season than almost any other team: 24 PPG, 54 percent shooting, and 7.7 RPG. Those are pretty good numbers against a pretty good defensive team. Won't happen in this series, though, not against 'Sheed's long-armed defense. Or...will it?
Paul Pierce. Forget the 41-point bomb he dropped on the Cavs on Sunday. Truth flat-out struggled against the Pistons this season: 15 PPG, 36 percent shooting, and 5.5 RPG. But he also averaged 6.0 APG in those three games, so he was making things happen. And Pierce is Boston's only real go-to guy, which I'm thinking they're going to need in this series.
And the Celtics are going to defend...who, exactly? Who is the Boston D supposed to focus on when, literally, anybody on the Detroit roster could beat them on any given night. Doc Rivers — SURPRISE!! — has no idea. "It's the exact opposite. You go from Cleveland and Atlanta in a lot of ways with Joe Johnson, where you focus on double-teaming, to playing a team that all the guys in the starting lineup are capable of having good nights." After uttering those cryptic final words, Doc's head exploded, showering the nearby media members with gory bits of blood and brains.
History is on their side, Part XIII. The Pistons didn't have homecourt advantage when they won the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004 and 2005.
Deep thoughts by Paul Pierce. So said-eth The Truth: "When you're waking up you notice that the sun's been out. It's been warm outside. It's very rare that you're playing in the Eastern Conference that you're still playing when it's 70 degrees, so you know you've gone pretty far in the playoffs and I think some guys wake up and say, 'hey, we're still playing,' and they get excited about it." Profound!
It's just been a learning experience. Really! Ray Allen thinks all the lousy play and inexplicable losses on the road has been like getting beaten up by Clubber Lang and then Mickey dying in Rocky III. In other words: A valuable learning tool. "We've learned a lot about each other. It's good for us because as a team this is our first time together. Our valleys that we're going through, seven games, adversity on the road. All that stuff that people say is a reason why we won't win, it's a reason why we will win." So what we thought was yucky badness...it's actually yummy goodness?! Well, shoot, when you put it that way, the Celtics totally have this one in the bag.