Pistons vs. Celtics, Experience vs. Star Power: A Rivalry Renewed

Barrett HargerCorrespondent IMay 21, 2008

The match-up everyone has been waiting for is now here. The two teams with the best records square off against each other for a chance to become legends.

The Detroit Pistons have made the last six Eastern Conference Finals, and have more experience, while the Boston Celtics have star power.

The Celtics had the best road record during the regular season going 31-10 but have yet to win a road game in the playoffs. Is it the lack of experience in the playoffs, is it immaturity, or can they not handle the pressure?

The first two teams the Celtics played were not that good. While the Hawks are a very talented team on the rise, they are immature and extremely young. The Celtics fell apart in Atlanta, and while Cleveland is a solid team, they had no business going seven games with the Celtics.

Even though the Celtics look scared and disinterested on the road ,they are energized and mentally tough at home, looking like a true contender. The Celtics could win the title without winning a road game, but that is not the way you want to win a championship.

The Detroit Pistons are a very confusing team at times as well. They were off to a horrible start against the Philadelphia 76ers and had to go on a huge run to keep from going into a 3-1 hole.

They look like a team full of rookies at times, and other times they look like the team that won the championship only a few years ago. They have great experience and have a great starting lineup.

Although they do not have any superstars that can take over a game, they work well as a unit and are more balanced than any team in the league.

The problem I have with them is their head coach Flip Saunders. Ever since Larry Brown left the Pistons they have improved in the regular season but have fallen apart in the playoffs.

They should have won last year against the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals, and were basically beat by one man (LeBron). They were up 2-0 and had the series in their grasp and found a way to blow it.

I don't know how they can beat this Celtic team if they could not beat the Cleveland Cavaliers of last year. The one good thing about the Pistons is that their bench has greatly improved from last year.

Jason Maxiell is really starting to come alive, and the additions of Rodney Stuckey and Theo Ratliff make this team much tougher. Stuckey showed great decision-making and maturity in the series against the Magic when Billups went down with an injury.

If the Celtics are going to win this series they need to know when to play the right players at the right times. In the last two series, Doc Rivers has made some very questionable lineups decisions, mainly on the road.

They need to make sure Rajon Rondo gets 35 minutes of playing time and make sure Rivers assures Rondo that he is sticking with him. The last two series when Rondo would struggle, Rivers would pull him out and put Sam Cassell in, which really did not work.

When Sam Cassell is the PG, the team's style completely changes. They go from a very quick team that has a good mixture of transition basketball and half court basketball, to just half court basketball.

This makes them very one dimensional and much harder for all the players around the PG. Rondo's amazing speed and quickness and his ability to penetrate causes multiple defenders to account for him and often leaves a Celtic player open.

Rondo, like any other player will need his rest and will need someone to cover for him when he is resting on the bench. At the end of the Cavaliers series they put Eddie House as their PG and it really payed off, he is much quicker than Cassell and has great energy and shooting ability.

Ray Allen has really struggled this playoff series. He has not gotten out of his shooting "funk". He has lost his confidence and gone away from driving to the basket. When he doesn't drive to the basket it makes it very easy for the defense to shut him down.

Ray Allen's greatest strength has always been his 3 point shooting, but if that is all he is trying to do, the defense will only have to cover the perimeter of the 3 point line. Allen needs to drive to the basket to make the defense have to account for him anywhere on the court.

Even if he can't get a clean shot off he can draw fouls, and when he is on the free throw line, he's automatic. Maybe just getting points from the free throw line can bring his confidence back, because if the Celtics are going to try and win a championship, they need him to contribute more. Even if he can score 13-15 points it would really help.

The good thing about Allen's struggles is that it has forced the Celtics to rely more on Garnett and Pierce, who are both really stepping up their game. Pierce is scoring like he did before Allen and Garnett arrived, and KG is starting to take a lot more shots, which is really paying off. '

A big problem with Garnett is he is too unselfish. He is so talented, mentally tough, and may be the most complete player in the league. He has a great mid-range jumper, he has a turn-around jumper that is impossible to guard, he plays great defense, makes great passes, is a solid free-throw shooter, and a great rebounder.

Garnett needs to attack the rim more often and get to the free-throw line more to make the defender who is guarding him, whether it is Rasheed Wallace or McDyess, feel like they have to be very careful guarding him.

If the Pistons are going to win, they have to win every game at home because they cannot put themselves in a hole where they need to win 2 games at Boston. They also need to try and win at Boston as early as possible because Boston tends to get stronger at home the longer the series goes.

Chauncey Billups needs to score about 18 or more points a game, and hit big shots. If the Celtics start to get a substantial lead, he needs to hit crucial shots to keep Boston from pulling away.

The Pistons do not have enough fire power to get far behind, they need to keep the game close throughout the series. Their offense needs to play better than they did in the regular season and get solid contributions from all five positions on the court.

This is going to be a very good series. There will be great matchups along with a renewed rivalry that will bring back memories from the 80's and early 90's. The series will be decided by determination, players stepping up in big situations, and outsmarting the opposition.

This will be a series to remember, fasten your seat belts!


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