Tonight’s playoff games featuring the Pistons and Celtics as heavy favorites served as an interesting contrast. For all their bluster about knowing what playoff pressure is all about, the Pistons let an inferior opponent get back in a game they should have put away. On the other hand the Celtics weathered a brief run by the Hawks before putting the clamps down hard, never letting them get close again.
The Hawks took advantage of a slow-starting Celtics bench and erased the 14 point lead the Paul Pierce and the starters built. They cut the lead down to two but Doc put Garnett back in the game and thus ended the run. The lead was back up to 9 by halftime.
One of the beautiful aspects of this game was the way different players took turns taking over the game. Pierce led the charge with 3 three pointers in the first quarter. Garnett owned the 2nd quarter. Ray Allen took over early in the 3rd and Rondo led the charge after that. By the time Powe’s monster dunk over two Hawks players happened, the game was in hand.
I think I would have pulled the starters a little earlier than Doc did, but based on KG’s post game interview, that was kind of a statement to his team that they were supposed to finish strong and not let up. Perhaps that is a lesson the Pistons had to learn the hard way.
The Celtics never let up this season. I don’t expect they will this postseason. It seems like the Pistons took this game a little too casually. I don’t expect them to repeat that, but you never know.