The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who's still wondering why the Celtics were all up in LeBron's junk last series. When he's not focusing on the sordid past, he can be found mocking the laughable present at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
"Rest is not an option." So said Kevin Garnett after the Celtics defeated the Pistons 88-79 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, adding "So we don't even think about that." And based on the way Garnett played — a game-high 26 points (11-for-17), 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and several Lou Ferrigno-style flexdowns — I wouldn't blame Doc Rivers if he replaced that glass of warm milk KG drinks before bedtime with a couple dozen bottles of 5-Hour Energy. That cat didn't need any rest. And neither did the rest of the Celtics.
Boston hit 52 percent of its shots, forced Detroit to miss almost 60 percent of its and won the battle in the paint 44-22 to remain undefeated at home in the playoffs. And KG wasn't the only leprechaun bleeding Celtic Pride. Paul Pierce had 22 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Kendrick Perkins looked like a real NBA center by grabbing 10 rebounds. And Rajon Rondo (11 points, 7 assists, 5 steals) outplayed Chauncey Billups (9 points, 2 assists).
As has been the case throughout pretty much every game in every series of these playoffs, the third quarter pretty much decided who would win. Boston outscored Detroit 28-17 in period numero tres. And even though that wasn't the ball game, it sort of was the ball game, you know?
Whether it was the layoff, the Celtics D, or the outcome of last week's stunning season finale of Smallville, most of the Pistons starters were off their game. Antonio McDyess was the best of the lot with 14 points (5-for-10) and 11 rebounds. But Billups, Tayshaun Prince (16 points, 7-for-16), Rip Hamilton (15 points, 5-for-13) and especially Rasheed Wallace (11 points, 3-for-12, roasted by Garnett) all kind of sucked. For them, anyway.
Detroit coach Flip Saunders scoffed at the excuses, saying that neither the layoff nor the Smallville finale — which he said turned out pretty much how he'd expected — had anything to do with his team's disappointing failure. "It wasn't a matter of rust as we had too many mental mistakes. We weren't in the right situations on some offensive sets. We weren't in the right situations on some defensive rotations. When you do that, it messes up the whole team and the whole team looks a step slow." Well, there you go. That explains it.
Game 2 is in Boston on Thursday night.
Fun fact: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick attended last night's game and actually sat near the Detroit bench with some mummy-like woman (see above). There was no word whether he was standing over Flip Saunders' shoulder with a video camera at any point, but the Celtics had their offensive game in weeks. It's...it's almost like they knew what kind of defensive sets the Pistons were going to run. Especially after halftime. Hmmm, I wonder...
Funner fact: In the days leading up to Game 1, Ray Allen said: "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. Well, Ray-Ray sure maintained the rhythm he established in the Cleveland series, scoring 9 points on 3-for-10 shooting. So yeah, maybe there was at least one Celtic who could have used some time off.