Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Celtics-Pistsons Pre-Game 1 Thoughts

  • Celtics in 7. Let's get that out of the way.
  • It's not that I haven't seen how terrible they've played on the road. I have. It's not that I think they're really that good at this point. They're not. And it's not that I doubt the Pistons. I don't. But this isn't a postseason for great. It's a postseason for "Oh, okay. That makes sense, I guess." This isn't about great performances or intensity or the wild passion that comprised the most fun regular season in years. No, no, that all died once the playoffs started. This is about the known quantity. The expectable quality. The predictable result. You expect the Celtics to beat the Pistons, because you know the Celtics are good. Even though you know the Pistons are, you can't really put your finger on why, unless you're Chad Ford, Mark Stein, Henry Abbott, Matt Watson, any number of writers for the Detroit Free Press, or you have a Need 4 Sheed. Because everything about them is subtle. It's understated. In that way, they're the anti-Spurs. The Spurs are obvious, and that's what makes them boring. There's a lot about them that's subtle, but it's not the known quantity. There is no known quantity for the Pistons. They're mystifyingly complex. Boston, though, is obvious. And that's the the theme of the playoffs.
  • If you want specifics, it's not even the home court thing. I fully expect Detroit to walk into Boston tonight, pimp slap them senseless, and set off full blown panic not seen in Beantown since the Aqua Teen Hunger Force ads. Boston will expect to win because they're at home and they're the Celtics, but they won't believe it, because somewhere in the back of their mind they have doubt. And they're tired.
  • But then the Pistons will let them have Game 2, planning on taking control of the series in 3 and 4 in the Palace. But in Game 4, the Celtics will respond and get their road win. They'll carry that momentum and win at home in Game 6, probably behind the Truth's best game of the series. Then the Pistons will respond with a close but not too close win at home in Game 6, setting up a Game 7 ratings fest. And Boston's third straight seven game series.
  • But in the end, the Boston Celtics have Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, had the best record in the league, and play with "fire." And that's all anyone will remember. This was a season for the subtle, for the slight, for the intricate. It was a season for watching Gasol learn more and more about playing with Kobe, about Deron slowly showing everyone how good he is, about CP3 redefining the definition for "best point guard in the league," for watching the Suns' chemistry implode, for watching the Magic formulate a foundation, and for the future to be previewed. The postseason? Boring. Predictable. "Good, playoff basketball." The Hornets-Spurs series was the only one to feature real drama, real fascination. And in the end, the Spurs sucked the life out of it, relegating it to another series we'll ask one another if we remember. And most of us won't. "Wasn't that the one where the Hornets took Games 1 and 2 and looked unstoppable?" "Oh, I don't remember, it was just another one of those Spurs wins." And Boston will be the same. It's obvious.
  • Don't get me wrong, I love the matchups on the Pistons side. Tayshaun on Pierce? Fantastic, Pierce looks tired except for his Game 7 brilliance. Allen on Hamilton? I giggle at the thought of watching Hamilton drain dagger after dagger. Wallace on Perkins/Powe/Davis? Please. Garnett will get his, but he hasn't really gotten his the whole playoffs through. Bench? What, the "desperate for another ring" crew versus the Zoo Crew? I'll take youth under watchful guidance, thanks. And that doesn't even touch Billups ability to work the post on Rondo.
  • But when you look at it, this Pistons team still has more than its share of "What are we doing?" moments. Everyone thinks the Pistons are rolling right now. No one seems to remember that the Pistons struggled mightily with a Sixers team that was essentially Andre freaking Miller and some guys that aren't that far from the D-League. The Sixers were the most overrated team coming into the playoffs. Then the Pistons rolled over the Magic right? Except they didn't. The Magic were in that series, they just couldn't close. They were one correct clock management and one Hedo Turkoglu layup away from making that a whole other series. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, I know, but my point is that the Pistons didn't destroy the Magic. They beat them. And typical for this year's playoffs, you don't have to win convincingly, you just have to win. But Boston is a whole other beast, despite it's struggles.
  • I'm a big believer in the "magic number" theory. There's a certain number that one team has to get to in order to win, and a certain number the other team has to hold that team to in order to win. The magic number for this series is 85. If Boston scores 85, they're in good shape. If the Pistons hold them to under 85, they're in good shape. What's interesting is it's easier for the Pistons to score 100 if they hold the Celtics under 85 than if both teams are shooting well. Just one of their little quirks.
  • It'll be interesting to see how the calls go. Boston actually thought they were getting screwed on calls, which is like Robert Horry saying someone tried to cheap shot him. The Pistons don't react well when the refs call things tight. And by "don't react well," I mean "completely lose any sense of compusure."
  • I'm trying to get myself excited about what will honestly be a pretty fantastic series, but given the number of missed jumpers and blown expectations I'm anticipating, it's pretty difficult. Oh, well, there's always the wait for the Amir Johnson appearance.
  • The playoffs just don't seem that fun anymore. Why is that?
  • Isn't it obvious?

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