Normally losing to Detroit in Game 2 would not totally freak you out. But obviously this situation is far from normal. And that is why we may have seen the beginning of the end here tonight. The Celtics have shown no certifiable signs of beating a team of Detroit's standards away from their home court all month long. Of course that could change - but there is strong evidence to argue otherwise.
Even if that is not the case, tonight's loss was disheartening. The Triumvirate and Rondo all showed up offensively, but the defense was only adequate - which is why we had an unusually high point total of 200. And while the Celtics did not seem to shrink down the stretch, they hardly stepped up - while the Pistons played like the steady, confident team that they are. They got the rebounds and hit the big shots to keep the lead. Their offense, which can be nothing short of devastating, ran smoothly and unselfishly. Meanwhile the Celtics often seemed hesitant to recognize what shot was the best to take - either under or over passing again and again at the finish of the game. It wasn't terrible - it just didn't leave you with any confidence when compared to the Pistons' stunning offensive precision.
But maybe it was the Celtics' D that let them down - because 97 points usually will get it done against Detroit in this setting. Or maybe it was Glenn. I bit my tongue early in the playoffs, but he's getting progressively worse in my eyes as the postseason matures. What a surprise. Leon Powe played all of three fucking minutes tonight - the same player who had the second best PER on the team this year. Meanwhile PJ played 19 minutes and Big Baby 7. Big Baby was nearly invisible; and while PJ performed adequately, he hardly replicated his performance on Sunday. This is ridiculous - as has been pointed out a thousand times - Powe is a fantastic inside offensive option. In a series like this there is a good chance he could flourish and change the complexion of the game. But he languishes on the bench in place of PJ's "veteran" defense and Big Baby's who-knows-what. It's unacceptable - especially saying that Leon crashes the boards better than either of those guys, particularly on the offensive end. I'm sure Glenn has a good excuse for Powe not playing - but it's hogwash, unless he is hurt.
Another interesting topic on the Glenn front is his usage of House over Cassell. While Eddie is probably the better defender, I stand by my position that Cassell is still the more dynamic player and could be more beneficial to this team in many situations. There were times in this game, particularly when Rondo was on the bench, that the offense grew completely stagnant. Cassell is much more likely to remedy this situation than House. Sam is an initiator - he attacks, he doesn't wait for the ball to find him to shoot. Instead he takes the ball and finds a place to shoot it (or pass it). That can be a big difference, and I'm pretty sure we missed Cassell's presence on the floor tonight.
I am hardly ready to write this team off; but mental toughness is going to be the key if the Celtics are going to stand a chance in this series. If they are weak, as they have been all too often, they will return to Boston in a two game hole. And even if they are strong, they still might find themselves in the same predicament, especially if Glenn continues to behave accordingly.