The Celtics are the Eastern Conference Champions and will face the Lakers in their first finals appearance since 1987. This team that started the season with 9 new players and plenty of doubters is still silencing the critics as they closed out the Pistons in a come from behind victory on the road. Now they get a much needed rest before the Finals start on June 5.
This game was close throughout. I said this morning, I didn't believe that Rip Hamilton was really hurt. He came out and hit his first two shots and went 9-14 from the field, showing no sign of injury. The Celtics were up 24-21 after a jumper by Stuckey was waived off because he didn't get it off on time.
The Celtics started the 2nd quarter with Sam, Perk, PJ, Posey and Ray Allen on the court and they exstended the lead to 29-23 in the first 4 minutes. The Pistons then came back as KG picked up his 3rd foul left in the half. Doc finally put Leon Powe in and it paid dividends immediately as he forced 24 second violation by knocking the ball away and then on the next play, he got an offensive rebound and put it in as he was fouled. The Celtics led 40-37 at the half.
The Pistons had a big 3rd quarter, outscoring the Celtics 31-20. The refs were a factor the entire game, but in this quarter, they made one of the worst calls I have ever seen. Pierce got Hamilton in the air on a fake and then hit a 3 as Hamilton came down on him. Instead of calling a foul on Hamilton, they called an offensive foul on Pierce. It was a terrible call and instead of the Celtics getting 4 points, the Pistons got 2 points from the line. After a 20-6 run to close the period, the Pistons led 68-60 at the end of 3.
The Celtics started the 4th with Pierce, KG, Sam, Posey and Powe. The Pistons scored first to push the lead to 10, which was the biggest lead for either team in the game. Rondo then answered with a runner in the paint. And after Pierce fed Perk in the paint for a dunk and one, the lead was cut to 5. KG then hit 2 free throws to cut the lead to 70-67 with 8:48 left in the game. Pierce tied the game at 70 on a couple of free throws. The score then went back and forth until the Celtics took the lead for good at 75-74, once again on a Pierce free throw. The final score was 89-81.
KG struggled early, picking up his 3rd foul with 3:09 remaining in the half. He was just 2-10 in the first half. He picked up his 4th foul with 7:16 in the third and his 5th with 3:17 left in the game. Three of those fouls were on bad calls by the refs. He came up big in the final period as he set the tone with his aggressiveness. He finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Paul Pierce once again carried the team as he finished with 27 points on 8-12 shooting to go with 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. To Paul's credit, when that call went against him in the third quarter, he just shook it off and continued playing. He had every right to be upset, but he let his game do the talking.
Ray Allen hit some big shots scoring 17 points with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Rondo did a great job of running the ball up and handling the Pistons' pressure. He hit a huge pull up jumper with the Celtics up 5 and 4 second on the shot clock to cap off a 23-6 run. He finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. Perk wasn't as dominant as he was in game 5, but he played very well, especially on the defensive end. He came up with a big steal and a couple of big blocks. He finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
The Celtics bench contributed in this game also as Posey finished with 3 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. He also played great defense down the stretch as the Celtics came back from the 10 point deficit to take the lead. PJ Brown also played well finishing with 2 points, 1 rebound and 1 block in 12 minutes. Sam still struggled but did have 2 points and 1 rebound in 11 minutes. Doc finally used Powe and as he always does, he came through with 4 points and 1 rebound and some good defense in just 6 minutes.
The game was a defensive struggle throughout with the Celtics shooting 44% and the Pistons shooting 42%. The Celtics had a 38-36 rebounding edge and also had 2 fewer turnovers. Now, for the first time in 21 years, the Celtics are in the finals. They will finally get a much needed rest before the finals start on Thursday. Let the chants of "Beat LA" begin!!!