Attacking the Rack and Assorted Thoughts From Game 1

A Daily Babble Production

Eleven-for-thirteen.

That would be the Celtics' third-quarter foul shooting last night. 

It is also the stat that best epitomizes how the Celtics took the opening game of the Eastern Conference Finals from the Detroit Pistons at the Building Formerly Known As the Fleet.

By attacking.  And attacking.  And then attacking some more after that.

In a plus-11 quarter that swung the game permanently in the Celts' favor, the boys in green were a rare plus-10 from the foul line, with the Pistons going just 1-for-4 from the charity stripe.

We've said throughout the playoffs that the key for this green offense would be finding ways to get good looks going to the basket and thus earning trips to the line for some freebies from there.  In the most pivotal part of last night's game, this team did exactly that. 

Ray Allen had another poor night from the outside, but when he chose to go to the rim, he went hard.  Kevin Garnett did one of his best jobs all season of looking to get in the paint for his buckets.  Leon Powe banged down low and earned himself a pair at the line.  Meanwhile, the man known as the captain aaaaaand The Truth was an absolute stud once more in catalyzing the offense.  It was Paul Pierce who got in the lane whenever he wanted and either created looks or foul shots for himself or drew multiple defenders and found his teammates for great looks.  It's in-synch team play that leads to the sort of outburst this Celts team had in the third quarter, and Pierce was at the head of that -- as well as the attack motif in general.

This big third quarter came on the heels of a first half in which the Pistons went 14-for-17 from the stripe while the Celtics settled for 3-for-7 from the line.

When the boys in green are committed to attacking the bucket, they are as capable as any team in the league of drawing fouls with regularity.  Tuesday night's third quarter was a tribute to that truth, and a win resulted.  Seems worth bringing it.

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All of Steve's daily posts can be found in the CelticsBlog: NBA blog.  Check him out!

A few other assorted bits of randomness from Game 1:

  • What Kevin Garnett can do when he commits to getting himself shots in the lane was on display all the way through last night.  It isn't just the 11-for-17 performance that has me excited; it's the way he scored those 26 points.  Sure, he hit his share of patented deep KG jumpshots.  But Garnett also worked over Rasheed Wallace and any other nearby defenders in his efforts to make sure he was getting looks from six to 10 feet on the interior, and for one of the first times all season, he really seemed to control a game offensively.  Job well done.
  • Once more, because it can't be said here enough, Paul Pierce was absolutely outstanding again last night.  The 41 points weren't all there this time, but Pierce's ability to run the offense, turn himself into a go-to-guy and serve as a bastion of reliability for his fellow teammates to lean on was ceratinly on full display.
  • From the looks of it, there is little to no chance Chauncey Billups is fully recovered yet.  Between his lack of dominance on the floor and his reduced minutes, it's hard to imagine otherwise at this point.
  • Forcing the Pistons' bigs -- namely Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell -- into outside jumpers from the perimeter is exactly what the Celts need to do against those two.  Yes, they hit on 6-of-12 tonight, but the C's can take their chances with regard to that continuing.  Jump shots for the Pistons' least comfortable shooters are just fine.
  • Similarly, credit the Celtic bigs (namely KG and PJ Brown) for forcing Rasheed Wallace to face up and shoot long twos over them, which he couldn't make with consistency.  Wallace had missed ten straight threes coming into this game.  The Celts made sure they didn't let him get going with a couple of easy buckets around the tin, and 'Sheed finished up 3-for-12 on the night.  That won't continue either, but it's hard to complain with the Celtics' effort on him for the evening.
  • The first Eddie House possession of the game involved 14 seconds of uninterrupted Eddie dribbling followed by a turnover.  After that, however, it ws another wonderful night watching Eddie add energy to this team, and it was a pleasure to see him can the big trey to end the third quarter.

Three wins from the Finals, but more importantly, one win from a 2-0 lead.  One game at a time is the way to take it.

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