Detroit's Jason Maxiell victimizes Kevin Garnett
Antonio McDyess is a study in perseverance. Multiple knee injuries took away explosiveness and stardom, but what remain of his game is sometimes inspirational. Dice's 21 points and 16 rebounds provided the base for a Pistons victory last night; their defense, excellent support from Jason Maxiell, and timely shooting from other folks like Billups with under 3 minutes to go in the game closed the deal.
Boston did what they had to do however, which was regain home court advantage, not that it means anything yet. If they are destined for a ring in this year, KG will have suffered though getting posterized in at least two of these playoff series. The first was Cleveland's Lebron James dunking on him, the second being Maxiell's spectacular block from behind as Garnett was ready to convert an outlet pass.
Furthermore, it was interesting to hear the comments from SVG and Mark Jackson about KG's deference in the fourth quarter of last night's game. Pierce was the only one of the Tri-Core who showed any desire in attempting a game takeover; a stifling Piston defense sucked the enthusiasm and the will power right out of the Celtics. The only thing that kept Boston in the game was the 13 additional free throw attempts awarded them, much to the chagrin of Flip Saunders. You can get a complete box score here, but suffice it to say a team generally can't win shooting .318 from the floor, and have only one of it's superstars show up. KG has been golden most of these playoffs, but he'll have to find another gear and an inch more heart against such nasty defense.
If I were Doc Rivers, I would be bold and start James Posey over Ray Allen at the small forward, and shift Pierce to the off-guard, at least for one contest. Allen has lost his game; coming off the bench against the Pistons second squad and running plays for him might help find it. Boston is going to need some semblance of a third wheel to put them over the top; Posey's the more reliable three point shooter right now, and his defense is superior to Allen's.
As for Detroit, even though Billups hit the dagger last night, I'd be concerned about his hamstring injury. Stuckey has been a solid performer replacing him, but Chauncey's ability to post up Rondo and shut him down defensively has "pierced" Rajon's confidence. Rondo was second to Garnett in deferring to take shots last night. His replacement, Sam Cassell, has been a total bust so far in the second season. Boston is going to need Rondo's quickness and transition play to help offset Detroit's half-court D, Detroit needs Billups to contain the young PG.
This series has been a defensive slugfest to date; the overall flow and grace of the game suffers a bit, but the drama and individual moments of the contest are compelling. McDyess's moment was truly "Memorial"; it will be fascinating to see who shows up next game.