Always work on your free throws.
"We’re overhelping a little bit," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said yesterday at HealthPoint when asked how McDyess has become such a factor for the Detroit Pistons entering Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight. "Our guards have to get over screens better . . . because it’s forcing our (big men) to stay longer than they should. Unfortunately, for the bigs, it looks like the bigs aren’t doing their jobs, and a lot of times that’s not the case. It’s the guards not fighting over the screens and staying (on their men) longer, and that’s forcing the bigs to stay."
But it was hard to watch Kevin Garnett at the Palace of Auburn Hills Monday. The Celtics were struggling in the fourth quarter of a game that was still winnable . . . and Garnett disappointed and disappeared. He scored 3 points (1 for 4 from the floor) and committed two turnovers in the final period.
"Who are we?" the Celtics coach rhetorically mused yesterday when asked about his team’s erratic nature this postseason. "As good as Game 3 was, where I thought it was a perfect mix of great offense and great defense, it was the exact opposite in Game 4. That bothers you when you see that, but that’s how the playoffs have been."
There have been 22 previous Eastern Conference finals series that have entered Game 5 with the teams knotted at two wins apiece since 1958 (when the series was changed to a best-of-7 format). In those series, the Game 5 winner has advanced to the NBA Finals 19 times.
Sam Cassell had the sweaty bald head to prove it. He was one of a few players to notice that the visitors' locker room in The Palace of Auburn Hills felt like a sauna before Game 4 Monday. The temperature didn't drop much after the Celtics lost, either, which got Cassell to start pointing fingers, particularly at Pistons president Joe Dumars, a Bad Boys-era Piston. "I told Joe after the game, 'You can put the air conditioning back on now,' " Cassell said.
But these Celtics sometimes like to toss away the sheet music and just riff. They don’t like to take the highway when a detour is available. They haven’t quite gotten down the concept that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
Fresh off their Game 4 win, the Pistons elected not to practice yesterday. Coach Flip Saunders said he thought a day of rest would better serve his team before tonight’s Game 5 at TD Banknorth Garden. He said, in hindsight, he thought his team played tired in its Game 3 loss, and he didn’t want a repeat of that problem.
Jinx alert: Detroit Bad Boys (via Deadspin) has pictures of a "Celtics - Eastern Conference Champions 2008" T-shirt hanging on a rack somewhere. Quick, someone get a bucket of KFC to appease the basketball gods.