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Allen Emerges

YouTube montage of Ray Allen actually hitting shots in Game 5.

The Celtics had a bunch of players--notably Kendrick Perkins--go off last night, but it was Ray Allen who was conspicuous by his arrival. A box score of the game can be found here, but without Allen, KG's 33 points would have been statistical candy for Ticket and the Celtics. Allen scores in transition, which is important in this playoff series, because Detroit's half court defense can be fierce, a slight tad better than Boston's at this juncture. If Allen and Rondo can run the court off of turnovers and rebounds, converting open looks, the Celtics will be in decent shape these last two games. If Allen returns to playing the role of Anthony Peeler, then KG and Pierce will have to step up even more to push Boston over the top.

Not that Detroit doesn't have problems. Greatly out rebounded in Game 5, they needed Rasheed to get wild on the trey line, and Lindsey Hunter to apply his on ball swarming defense to make it close. Wallace didn't hit a single two pointer in the game. While that again provides a measure of stat candy, having your center hover at the three ball line and offer no inside offensive rebounding help puts the Pistons at a disadvantage, especially when McDyess--off of a great board game in Game 4--can only pick up 5 rebounds for the night. It's a great option to have a center who can shoot the three, but running a Don Nelson type of offense hasn't won a ring for Don Nelson, so why should it for Flip?

I think it will come down to how good Rondo can be in these last two games. Game 7 fatigue is starting to show for Boston, having gone the distance in the last two series. Rondo has to run the team efficiently, and take care of the ball. They can't afford careless turnovers, and since they're often doubling off of him to guard other players, he has to be looking for--and hitting--his shot every now and then, to loosen the Pistons defense, and allow the Tri-Core to operate. Allen has to at least be half of what he was last night, because I would be expect KG and Pierce to be up for the challenge.

I know I picked Detroit to win in seven, but it's been quite a series, and as I said before, despite the fatigue factor, I trust the Boston players more than I do Flip's coaching. The Pistons have shown tremendous heart, far more than any other Saunders team I've seen in recent memory. I can't imagine Boston will lose two straight, but they haven't exactly closed the deal in any game except Game 3 at Detroit. This level of competition is what makes pro basketball great, and compelling to watch.