Celtics-Pistons: Boston Celebrates In Detroit After Series Clinching Win

Stew Winkel@stew_winkelSenior Analyst IMay 30, 2008

“They won the east, we won the west.  So it’s like, everyone get ready, sit back, and let’s enjoy it.”

That was Magic Johnson, May 25, 1984 after the Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference finals, to send L.A. to the finals to face Larry Bird and the Celtics.

I’ve been thinking about that quote all postseason, and now after the Celtics finished off the Detroit Pistons Friday night with an 89-81 victory, it has become applicable.

Thanks to television, the finals won’t start until Thursday night, so I will wait to catch my breath before really thinking about Kobe and the Lakers.  And I'll have time to dust off my "I Hate L.A." t-shirt.  Tonight is a time to enjoy what Boston did in game six on the road defeating the Pistons.

Heroes for Boston tonight – Let's start with Paul Pierce.  He was the best player on the floor in the fourth quarter when he scored 12 of his 27 points, including a 3-point play that put the Celtics ahead for good with 5:24 remaining. 

KG, who did miss two free throws, hit a number of big shots in the fourth quarter, and scored 16 in the game. 

James Posey may have only scored three points, but he was crucial to Boston shutting down Detroit in the final quarter. 

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And Ray Allen.  While Pierce and KG both started slowly, Allen did not, scoring 13 in the first half and 17 for the game.  His play early was as important as Pierce's play late.

It was a great team effort, maybe the most complete game Boston has played all postseason. 

There was a time though the outcome looked bleak for Boston. The Pistons appeared ready to break open a close game when Richard Hamilton hit a jumper at 10:29 of the fourth quarter to give Detroit its largest lead, 70-60. 

But instead of Detroit finishing off Boston, the Pistons let the Celtics off the ropes.  And Boston took full advantage.

Rajon Rondo hit a running jumper, Kendrick Perkins completed a three-point play, KG scored six points sandwiched around a Pierce free throw.  Just like that, in about three minutes on the game clock, Boston went on a 12-2 run.

It was then Paul Pierce time.  The Truth scored seven straight points for Boston.  When he was finished, Boston had gone on a 19-4 run and led 79-74.

While the Celtics were scoring in the fourth quarter, Detroit was not.  The Pistons, after a 31-point third quarter, scored only 13 in the fourth.

Chauncey Billups (29 points on 9-20 shooting) and Richard Hamilton (21 points, on 9-14 shooting) carried the Piston offense for the first three quarters, but both came up short when the game was on the line. 

Mr. Big Shot scored only three in the fourth on 1-4 shooting until a meaningless layup in the closing seconds.  Hamilton didn’t score in the game’s final 10:29, shooting 1-3 in the quarter.  He did have all three of his turnovers in the final 12 minutes.

Another Piston, Tayshaun Prince, who some, even a paper in Boston, said going into the series was an advantage for the Pistons over Paul Pierce, committed the key turnover of the game.

With the Celtics up four, Rondo missed a 19-foot jumper, and Prince came up with the defensive rebound.  But Prince got careless, and no one on the team warned him as James Posey came from behind and knocked the ball away.  This forced Hamilton to foul Pierce, who knocked down both free throws, essentially sealing the victory.

Rasheed Wallace followed his game-five post-game tantrum with a 2-12 performance in game six.

The super-confident Pistons I am sure are wondering how they lost this game and the series.  The great thing is they are wondering that as they are driving home tonight planning their summer vacation.

Detroit has had a nice run, and are a confident team.  That confidence, however, can also be their Achilles heal.  They talk and act with a swagger, and are treated as if they are the Spurs who have won four championships.  They did win one, which is a great accomplishment.  But that was four years ago.

The Pistons and their fans like to say, “If it ain’t rough, it ain’t right.”

I don’t want to hear any more of that.  I don’t want to hear about how the Pistons know how to win and are mentally tough and playoff tested.  Do you know what the Pistons are - they are the Atlanta Braves.

Six straight Eastern Conference finals isn't easy and is something to be proud of.  This though makes three straight years falling flat in the Eastern finals, including losing four in a row a year ago to Cleveland, and then blowing a 10-point fourth quarter lead at home in a must-win game six.  

Boston is now going back to the finals for the first time since 1987, when they got there by defeating the Pistons.  I was glad history repeated itself in that regard – hopefully for the C’s, the end result this year is not a repeat of how the ’87 finals ended. 

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