After getting blown out of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, most people expected the Pistons to come out with more energy on defense, more precise offensive sets, and a greater sense of urgency.
While the final score implies the Pistons dominated this game, most of this one was a tight slugfest between two teams having trouble putting the ball in the basket. In a game of this magnitude with so much on the line, two players had phenomenal games and put Detroit back into this series.
The first is the only player on the starting five without a ring, Antonio McDyess. No. 24 refused to let his team lose, scoring 21 points on mostly outside jump shots while grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds.
That doesn’t even begin to describe the impact he had on the game. Every time there was a loose ball, every time there was a rebound to be grabbed, Mcdyess went AFTER it. He didn’t always succeed, but his effort and focus spoke volumes about his determination and guts and are part of why Pistons fans have so much respect for the man.
If McDyess is respected, then Jason Maxiell is Pistons fans’ secret treasure. However, if he keeps coming up with huge blocks on Kevin Garnett and dunks in transition like Monday night, then the Detroit fans may not be able to hide their undercover big-man. Maxiell shot an astounding 6-for-6 from the floor, and even hit the few jumpers he tried. When his shot is falling like that, the Pistons are nearly impossible to stop offensively.
Even given those two performances, Detroit would still have been in a lot of trouble if Billups didn’t hit a huge three-pointer near the end of the fourth quarter to finally seal the outcome of the game. No. 1 for Detroit has been a disappointment in this series, leading many to wonder about the status of his right hamstring. While he did not shoot well at all for his standards, he came out much more aggressive than in Game 3.
The Pistons are so dangerous because of their depth; they can win a game like this when Stuckey, Prince, and Billups shoot poorly because others make up for it. For them to win Game 5, they must treat it like an elimination game and beat Boston’s energy level. They must continue to stay aggressive on defense and execute precisely on offense.
For the Celtics, they need to get KG and Paul Pierce going offensively and actually start guarding McDyess on the outside shots.
Game 5 is shaping up to be a possible classic, and has huge implications as the winner will hold an advantage that should allow them to ultimately win the series.