The Writing is on the Wall
Boston's evolving maturity level was even more honed Wednesday night as the C's took control early and then didn't hang their heads when the Pistons closed the third quarter with a 7-0 run to tie it entering the fourth. As the final 12 minutes played out, the Celtics reasserted themselves (with the help of some dubious calls that went against Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess) while the Pistons looked lost on offense; they failed to move the ball and failed to get stops that would have kept them in striking range when the game got to the final two minutes.
"Part of the problem is that when things start going south, our guys think they can do it by themselves," Detroit coach Flip Saunders lamented. "But we don't have those types of players. Our players are geared toward somebody making a play for somebody else. That's how this team has been built. It hasn't been built on a superstar carrying us down the stretch."
Wallace's composure was near the breaking point as he practically dared the officials to give him a technical foul after the outcome had been decided, and Chauncey Billups' composure was lacking, too, when he picked up a fourth-quarter technical foul (coaches always tell players that if they're going to get a tech for complaining, don't do it in the fourth quarter) for arguing a chippy reach-in call.
The composure on the other side was an entirely different story, and it wasn't just coming from the three guys you expect it from -- Garnett (31 points, six rebounds, three assists), Paul Pierce (16 points, five assists) or Ray Allen (whose tireless defense on Rip Hamilton was one of the keys to the game that didn't show up in the stat sheet). Some of it came from point guard Rajon Rondo, whose emphatic driving one-handed dunk midway though the third quarter "brought the roof off the building," as Garnett said, and plenty of it came from Kendrick Perkins, who grabbed 20 rebounds, scored 10 points and blocked two shots in 33 rugged minutes.
You didn't hear anyone talking afterward about how Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown are really going to help this team, because in all honesty, the Celtics -- at least on this night -- didn't look like they needed either of them.
--From the Daily Dime
Barring injury, I expect this story to repeat itself from now until the next banner is hoisted. The Celtics will only get better once PJ and Sam are integrated. As Cassell himself said, the writing is on the wall.
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