Sorry for the slight delay in this post, but the giddy sense of near-disbelief finally garnered from a road win is almost too much for words. Alright, maybe that's a bit much, but still, who didn't wake up this morning feeling just a little bit better about almost everything? Last night the Celtics played like a Championship-caliber basketball team, plain and simple. It was almost certainly the best performance we've seen from the Green this entire postseason--some might point to the Game 7 drubbing of the Hawks, but come on, it was the Hawks, and more depressingly, it was Game 7--and puts the Celtics in a great position going into Monday. If we can win the next one in Detroit the series is all but over, and even if we don't we'll head back to Boston tied 2-2 for what will essentially be a best-of-three with homecourt advantage... precisely the situation the Celtics faced during the regular season, when they took the series 2-1. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Last night was just fantastic, an almost entirely dominating performance and one of those classic games that great teams just go out and win. The Pistons had changed the complexion of the series when they stole game 2 in Boston, but last night the Celtics went out and changed it right back, and in rather dramatic fashion. With the exception of a brief spot where they trailed by two in the first quarter, this was a wire-to-wire affair; the Pistons started to claw their way back a few times, most memorably towards the middle of the fourth quarter, but the C's always had an answer: in their eyes, the game never appeared in doubt. People talk a lot--too much--about "must-win" games, and lord knows the Celtics have played their share of those in these playoffs, but one of the marks of true excellence is stopping the must-win situation before it even presents itself. It's the prime reason I don't see the Spurs winning it all this year, and it's the prime reason my faith in the Celtics' chances is currently the highest it's been since, what, Game 3 of the Hawks series? Not a stretch.
The Celtics had no dominating star performance, but managed to get six guys into double figures, with KG leading the way with 22. The big story from this one was the bench: guys like Posey, PJ and even Cassell made big plays at big moments, muting the impact of Garnett, Pierce and Allen occasionally dealing with foul trouble. As for your nightly Ray Allen update, Employee #20 had a rough night from the floor (5-16) but actually played quite well otherwise: 6 assists, 6 boards, and generally looking refreshingly confident in the offense even though his shots weren't falling. The highest praise, however, must be reserved for Kendrick Perkins, who played like a grown-ass man tonight: 12 points, 10 boards, and a thankful minimum of Kendrick Scissorhands-moments and shitty whining to the zebras. If Perk can figure out a way to play like this consistently--knocking down short open jumpers, playing great help defense, snaring big-time rebounds--then the Celtics will be truly scary, although we've been saying that most of the season and should probably just learn to love him for who he is. Which certainly wasn't hard last night.
Don't look now, David Stern, but your NBA is halfway home to a Celtics-Lakers finals. In the meantime though, let's focus on the task at hand; I'm already excited for Monday.