Celtics 106 Pistons 102 – Boston had everything running smoothly. Ray Allen (29 pts) was hitting open jump shots, Rajon Rondo was breaking down the defense, and Kendrick Perkins (18 pts 16 reb) was a rebounding machine. But in the fourth quarter all that changed. Up 15 points, the Pistons decided to trap and force the issue and the Celtics couldn’t respond. They went away from everything that worked earlier in the game. Kevin Garnett (33 pts) had multiple open shots yet made unnecessary extra passes that resulted in turnovers. Rondo was not driving the ball to the hoop after breaking the trap; choosing to set up a half court offense that had no flow to it by the end of the game.
Credit Detroit, as they went to the three guard lineup to try and speed up the game. Chauncey Billups (26 pts), Richard Hamilton (25 pts), and Rodney Stuckey kept the ball pressure on Rondo for 92 feet. Stuckey got the Pistons within one, but Ray Allen made a jump shot to push it back to 3. Both teams came up empty on their next possessions and the Celtics did what people have been talking about for a long time. When you are up three, foul so they don’t get an opportunity to shoot the ball. Boston executed that twice and in the end it worked as Stuckey eventually missed a free throw with under ten seconds remaining.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Celtics played a great game. If you are a championship team, you put that game away. Let’s see if they can close the series out Friday night. But I am sure the Pistons and their fans will have something to say about that.