The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who's hoping that Spring will eventually come to Chicago. Not that 40-degree weather isn't fun...in, like, December. When he's not hating the hell out of the Midwestern weather, he can be found doing a sunshine dance at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
There's no place like road. It wasn't Beantown, but the Motor City sure felt like home to the Boston Celtics last night. The Leprechauns clamped down on D and broke their road jinx with a 94-80 win over the Jekyll-and-Hyde Pistons. And all it took was 17 (mostly) live goats, several young (sort of) virgins, and a gross of puppy dog tails (a couple of which were actually cat tails, I think). Ah, that good old Celtic magic.
Kevin Garnett (22 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists) played the role of high priest, and role players like Kendrick Perkins (12 points, 10 rebounds), Rajon Rondo (14 points, 4 assists) and James Posey (12 points, 4 rebounds) were his faithful acolytes. Huh. Not sure what that makes Ray Allen (14 points, 5-for-16, 6 assists) or Paul Pierce (11 points, 4 rebounds, 5 turnovers). Maybe I should have skipped the magic analogy, or used Harry Potter references again.
Anyway, it wasn't about Boston's individual performances. It was about their defense. They held the Pistons to 38 percent shooting - including 1-for-13 from downtown - and outrebounded them 44-28. Rip Hamilton scored 26 points, but he was only 8-for-18 from the field. Chauncey Billups (6 points, 1-for-6, 4 assists) played like his hamstring was missing. Tayshaun Prince (4 points, 2-for-11, 4 rebounds) played like he was keeping Chauncey's hamstring company. And Rasheed Wallace eventually fouled out after a frustrating night of trying to keep up with KG.
Still, all that being said, the Pistons cut a 20-point Boston lead down to only nine with about three minutes left, thanks mostly to the fact that the Celtics went into the NBA-equivalent of the prevent defense: Walking the ball up the court, trying to waste time, putting up rushed shots before the shot clock could expire. In short, playing not to lose their lead instead of trying to extend it. Which is stupid, and ugly to watch, but I guess it worked.
And Doc Rivers was totally underwhelmed. "I think our guys just assumed we would eventually win on the road." If you say so, Doc. And on the other end of the spectrum, Flip Saunders is all life or death. "They got home court back. [The next game] is a crucial game for us - the biggest of the year."
Game 4 is Monday in Detroit.