The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who very highly suggests seeing the new Indiana Jones movie. When he's not laughing at how Gregg Popovich has Tim Duncan by the balls, he can be found marvelling at the crotch-grabbing antics of the Spurs-Lakers series at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
Damn you, Ray Allen! Things were going just fine until Ray-Ray had to screw everything up. I mean, a career-worst shooting slump at the worst possible time seems like a small price to pay for an unstoppable home winning streak, right? Not for Allen, who selfishly broke out of said slump by scoring 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting - his best game in three months. And as fast as you could say "He got game again," the Boston Celtics lost their first home game of the postseason 103-97 to the Detroit Pistons.
See, this is why professional athletes are such a wildly superstitious lot. Darin Erstad's mystical anti-injury pouch, Patrick Roy's conversations with the pucks, Jason Terry's game-shorts-as-pajamas bedtime habit, Pelle Lindbergh's ubiquitous orange t-shirt, Caron Butler's pre-game Mountain Dew bath...the general rule is this: If you're winning, don't change anything.
Now, the Celtics' world has been spun right off its axis. But maybe that's all part of the plan, you know? I mean, if these playoffs have been one big educational process for the Leprechauns, then this home loss will force them to learn how to win on the road. Or something. Said Doc Rivers: "I fully believe, and I've said it many times, at some point we're going to have to win on the road. We've gotten away with it thus far. That's been taken away. And if we want what we want, we have to win on the road and that's just the way it is."
Apparently so, since the Celtics wasted big games from Allen, Kevin Garnett (24 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) and Paul Pierce (26 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) in the loss. Chauncey Billups (19 points, 7 assists) ditched his men-in-tights look and was a better man for it, and Rip Hamilton (25 points, 10-for-12 from the line), Rasheed Wallace (13 points, 10 rebounds), Antonio McDyess (15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) and Tayshaun Prince (14 points, 8 rebounds) were all solid. What's more, Rodney Stucky outscored the entire Boston bench 13-8 and drilled some critical jump shots in the final period. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sam Cassell had another DNP-CD.
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It's not that the Celtics played poorly. The Pistons were just the better team last night. And that's got to be pretty disconcerting for the Gang Green, even though it was no surprise for 'Sheed. "[The series] is even. We don't sit back and say, 'Oh, look. They are undefeated at home,' or 'They didn't win a game on the road.' A lot of teams they played in the postseason and regular season were scared of them, as far as KG and Ray and Paul. They are good players, but we have good players, also."
True enough. Now, can The Big Three beat The Sinister Six in Detroit? I guess we'll find out on Saturday.
Fun fact: New England Patriots pretty boy Tom Brady attended the game with his supermodel girlfriend Giselle Bunderherfwhatever. Turns out that when she's not posing for swimsuit calendars, she looks vaguely mannish. Seriously. Cover her lips and chin with your thumb and you'll see what I'm talking about.