The Celtics made a statement with a 92-85 win over the Pistons in Detroit. This win avenges the Dec 19 loss to the Pistons in Boston. It was all it was built up to be with 12 lead changes and 16 ties. There were 6 technicals called and blood drawn as Rondo received a cut over his eye early in the first quarter. This was a big game historically speaking as well. There have only been two regular season games since the 1954-55 season when the shot clock was adopted where two teams have had better combined winning percentages after at least 30 games than the Celtics and the Pistons had coming into this game. They brought a combined winning percentage of .844 into the game. One game where the combined winning percentage was higher than this game was in 1966 when the Boston Celtics (25-7) played the Philadelphia 76ers (33-3)with a combined winning percentage of .853. Those Sixers would go on to win the championship that season after beating the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics led early as they got out to a 10-3 start, but KG picked up two early fouls and went to the bench. The Pistons went on a 20-3 run with KG sitting on the bench and led by as many as 10 points. The Celtics came back though to trail by only 2 at the half. It was a see saw game through the entire second half until the Celtics pulled away in the final couple of minutes.
The player of the game was Big Baby Davis who came into the game and brought energy and had a career night with 20 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes. He made the big plays down the stretch, scoring 16 of his 20 points in the 4th period. With the Piston's defense collapsing on Pierce, Allen and Garnett every time they touched the ball, Big Baby was left open and made them pay. Pierce in particular did a great job of finding Baby in the post when he was double and triple teamed and he finished with 7 assists to go with his 19 points, 9 rebounds and 1 steal in 46 minutes of play. Once again, Pierce very quietly filled up the stat sheet within the flow of the game.
KG spent much of the first half on the bench with foul trouble. When he was in the game, he had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night, going 4-11 from the field and finishing with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block in 32 minutes. Perk had 7 points and 9 rebounds and got off to a quick start, scoring the Celtics' first 6 points. Once again, his boxing out and defense are so crucial to the team as he allows his teammates to get open on offense and grab rebounds on defense.
Ray Allen joined KG in foul trouble for much of the game and like KG had an off game. He finished with 9 points on 3-8 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 fouls. Rondo struggled once again against the stronger Billups. He joined KG with the bandaid over his eye with an early hit. Much of the game, House or Tony manned the point and Rondo finished with 3 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block and no assissts in 25 minutes.
Tony Allen once again had a solid game showing that he is making his way back from the injury. He finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. House did a good job on defense while he was in at the point and finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. James Posey had a quiet game with 3 points and 2 rebounds. Pollard gave a solid 5 minutes finishing with 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 block. In the 4th quarter after the Celtics took the lead, the Pistons were shown shouting at each other in a time out and Dickerson said they weren't being very nice to each other. This shows that their team chemistry has a chink in its armor which is a weakness teams can exploit.
The Celtics shot 28% in the first quarter but improved that to 42% for the game while holding Detroit to 39% for the game. The Celtics out rebounded the Pistons 50-36 but had 13 turnovers to just 6 for the Pistons, who take very good care of the basketball. It was the Bench that came through for the Celtics in this win with KG and Ray in foul trouble much of the game. The bench accounted for 39 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. For a team with a "weak bench" against one of the top teams in the league, that is pretty darn good.
This was about as big as a regular season game could get. Each team has won in the other team's building. They meet one more time in Boston on March 5. Right now, it isn't scheduled for national TV but I would go out on a limb to say that it will be added. What a battle that game is going to be but for now, the Celtics have proved that they can run with and beat the Pistons. The Pistons are pretty much where they are going to be, but the Celtics have a lot of room to improve and that has to make Celtics fans giddy.