First, I am still amazed as how much the officiating can affect a game. With the Donaghy scandal rearing it's ugly head again, it would seem that David Stern would be putting the fear of God into his refs to call games fairly. For some reason, the Celtics just can't get the calls. In the first two series, the Celtics shot 295 free throws while their opponents shot 416. I know some will say it is because the Celtics don't go to the hoop as much. But the Celtics do drive to the hoop and we do have players in the paint and they aren't getting the calls. Just look at game 1 against the Pistons. The Celtics had 44 points in the paint compared to 22 for the Pistons. So, the Celtics pretty much spent the whole game in the paint while the Pistons were the ones settling for jumpers. So, the Celtics should have had more free throws, especially with the physical play of the Pistons on defense. The Pistons shot 6 more free throws than the Celtics. I just don't understand it unless the refs have an agenda and are making big bucks by covering the spread or affecting the game. And, you still can't question the officiating unless you want to get a fine or suspension from Little Napoleon, aka David Stern. Even Peter Vescey questioned this on NBA TV this morning. All I know is that something isn't right here.
The Celtics better not have a false sense of security after beating the Pistons in game 1. The Pistons are a cocky and arrogant group who play haphazardly at times and then turn it on when they feel like it. They lost the first game at home to the Sixers and then they lost the first game in Philly but then they turned it on and won the next three games to win the series. They look almost disinterested at times and then when they feel like playing, they just turn it on. I really hate this Pistons team for that kind of arrogance. The Pistons feel they need to steal this game in Boston and will come out much more focused and the Celtics need to be ready for that. The national media are still picking the Pistons to win this series in spite of the Celtics game 1 win because they know that the Pistons are capable of turning it on and taking over a series. Hopefully the Celtics will be ready for when they do.
Last night's game between the Lakers and the Spurs was amazing. The Spurs seemed to be in charge and were up 20 points with 5 minutes to go in the third quarter. It seemed they had the game in hand and then they stopped playing. They couldn't hit a shot and couldn't get a stop. The Lakers ended up winning the game. The teams that are left are here for a reason. They are the best 4 teams in the NBA and you can't sleep on any of them. No lead, even a 20 point lead is safe. The Spurs let up and the Lakers took advantage. The Pistons are capable of doing the same thing and so the Celtics need to play 48 minutes even if they have a big lead. No letting up.
I really wish TNT was covering the ECF instead of ESPN. I like Ernie, Charles and Kenny, even though Charles isn't a Celtics fan and is usually against them. But, their coverage seems to be more lively than the ESPN coverage.
The lottery has become a joke. The teams that need the first pick the most rarely get it whether it is rigged or just flawed is a big question. I know they went to this system to try to keep teams from tanking for the top pick, but it isn't working. When a team with the 9th worst record gets the top pick and the teams that are the worst and needing that pick 3rd, 4th, or 5th is ludicrous. This system needs fixed. It is fatally flawed. Go back to the old system of the worst team picks first. So teams tank, but it isn't like they aren't doing it now anyway.
I feel so bad for Ray Allen. He is one of the classiest guys in the league and one of the best scorers in the history of the league and his struggles lately are painful to watch. His airball in game 1 was bad, but the fact that he hesitated to take shots after that was so hard to watch. The slump is getting into his head now and he is questioning his shot. But, to his credit, he did so many other things to help the team in the first game. He took charges, drove to the hoop, and played great defense. If the slump is mental and not caused by an injury that we don't know about, I believe that Ray will snap out of it and start hitting his shots. We really need his outside shooting so hopefully he snaps out of it soon.
Eddie House has been big for the Celtics in the last two games since Doc finally remembered who he was. He has been making the energy plays and hitting big shots. In spite of Sam telling everyone he is rested and ready, I really hope that Doc keeps using Eddie. This rotation is the one that got us here and Eddie runs the offense much better than Sam and that is the biggest factor. I think that some of the Celtics struggles early was that Doc changed the rotation and Sam was disrupting the team's rhythm that they had in the regular season. On the other hand, PJ Brown has been huge for the Celtics in the playoffs. Since he isn't responsible for running the offense, he hasn't disrupted chemistry the way Sam has and he is playing some excellent ball for the Celtics.
Chauncey Billups looked like he was really hampered by the hamstring injury that sidelined him for the last two games of the Orlando series, which they won anyway. He was then off for a week after missing those two games. How much of his poor performance was rust and how much was the injury? It is hard to tell, but I don't put it past him to make it seem like he is injured when he really isn't to try to lull Rondo into a false sense of security. I hope Rondo isn't buying it and will stay ready for a big game by Billups.
The Pistons are going to make adjustments and here is where the coaching comes in. Doc will need to be ready for those adjustments and make some of his own to counter. Pierce and KG will need to both be aggressive. The Celtics need to continue to crash the boards as the team that wins the rebounding battle wins the game. They need to keep taking it to the hoop whether they are getting the calls or not. And Pierce and Garnett need to continue to be aggressive on offense. Rondo needs to be aggressive on both ends of the court and make Billups work for anything he gets. Hopefully the Celtics continue to dominate at home because having to win on the road is a scary thought right now.
The "There Can Be Only One" commercials by the NBA is a great marketing campaign. Even the political race has stolen it. They have retired the LeBron/KG ad and now we see KG and Chauncey. I caught one with Ray Allen but only saw it once and maybe they are waiting for Ray to come out of his slump to play it more. I leave you with the new one with KG and Chanucey.