Celtics ss Pistons—It wasn't pretty, but the Boston Celtics eked out an 86-82 victory at home against the visiting Detroit Pistons. This was the third time the Celtics have matched up with Detroit, and the C's now lead the season series 2-1.
With the win, the Celtics move to 32-9 on the season. They have won four straight games, while the Miami Heat have lost four straight, and as a result hold a 3.0 game lead in the Eastern Conference. They currently hold the second best record in the NBA, and are one of three teams (Spurs, Mavericks) who are over a .700 winning percentage.
The Celtics had an uncharacteristic night in all phases of offense. The Celtics have been far and away the most efficient team in the NBA this year. Coming into tonight's game, they led the league in field goal percentage (50.5%), and were locked in a three way tie for third place from behind the three point arc (38.9%).
However, the C's shot just 34-76 (44.7%) from the field, 4-14 (28.6%) from three, and 14-25 (56.0%) from the free throw line. They also turned the ball over 17 times, 3.4 more times than their season average.
The Celtics' defense and rebounding kept them right on pace with the Pistons long enough to edge out win in the fourth quarter. Shaquille O'Neal had a lot to do with that.
In 25 minutes, Shaq had 12 points and 12 rebounds (five offensive). He gave the Celtics energy, and connected with Rajon Rondo on an alley-oop dunk and backdoor layup in consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter.
He even did the dirty work, as he had three steals and two blocks in one of his finer defensive performances of the season. Tonight, Shaquille showed the NBA brief glimpses of his former self and his legendary ability to take over a game.
Per usual, Ray Allen came up with the big shot very late in the fourth quarter. With just 0:24 seconds to go left in the game, the Celtics were tied at 82. Allen was just 2-7 with five points. But, he delivered the go ahead jumper from 21' on the right side of the floor, just a shade inside the three point line. Allen is just a few weeks away from breaking Reggie Miller's all time three point record.
- Celtics out-rebounded the Pistons 47-34, including 14-5 on the offensive glass. As previously noted, the Celtics have the best field goal percentage of any team in the NBA. They don't miss many shots, so they don't get many opportunities for offensive boards. Well, tonight, they missed plenty, so there were plenty of opportunities.
- Paul Pierce led all scorers with 22 points. He's quietly putting up one of the best seasons of his hall-of-fame career.
- KG looked off tonight. Only his second game back from injury, he was just 5-14 from the field. As he gains his rhythm back, his play will improve.
- The Celtics held the Pistons to just 31-74 (41.9%) shooting from the field, including 4-15 (26.7%) from three.
- Jermaine O'Neal has opted to forgo knee surgery. He will again try to rest his knee and strengthen his lower body in attempt to get healthy. The initial reports slate him as out for about four weeks.
- Marquis Daniels left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He did not return, and there is no word on the severity of the injury. It didn't look like anything worse than a sprained ankle, but the Celtics are already thin on the perimeter with Delonte West out, and they can ill-afford (yet will manage as they always do) another injury.