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Kevin Garnett put the Celtics up by eight points midway through the second quarter with an emphatic dunk following a P.J. Brown block on the defensive end. It may not have represented a turning point in the game, but it certainly represented an exclamation point for the series: the Celtics are not dead and will not go down without a fight.
The Celtics zoomed ahead from a close game in the first quarter to a double-digit lead in the second quarter on sharp shooting and strong defense. They opened up a 24-point lead in the third before holding off a late Pistons rally in a 94-80 win.
KG led the way for the C’s with 22 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. He played with tremendous confidence, going strong to the hoop on numerous occasions. At times during the Cavs-Celtics series, Garnett would settle for mid-range jumpers instead of going strong. He has adjusted and the Celtics are benefitting.
Kendrick Perkins was huge for the Celtics, shooting 6-7 from the field for 12 points and 10 rebounds. Perk also looked extremely confident playing against Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace. He went up strong for his rebounds, and even earned recognition from the ABC national announcers. They gave him a lot of praise for his surprising effort, mostly because he was basically invisible in Game 1 and 2.
After a back-and-forth first quarter that saw both teams with 10-point runs or higher, it was all-Celtics thanks in part to terrific play from the bench, who scored 32 points in the first half.
The Celtics bench picked up the slack while Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were on the bench in foul trouble in the first quarter. P.J. Brown (4 PTS, 4 REB, 1 BLK) and James Posey (12 PTS, 4 REB, 1 STL) were solid on both sides of the floor. When Doc Rivers made substitutions, the transition to a new lineup appeared seemless.
On the other end, the Pistons bench was also good. Jason Maxiell gave the Pistons some great defense in the first half. He first completely blocked a P.J. Brown attempt in the first quarter, and rejected a much-taller Kevin Garnett in the second. Guard Rodney Stuckey also played well and gave Sam Cassell a bit of trouble due to his speed. If both players continues to play so well on both ends, the Celtics could be in trouble…but it appears for now the C’s are in good shape.
The Celts now have regained home court advantage in the series and are back in the driver’s seat. They proved a lot going into Detroit and quieting the crowd early before the Pistons could mount an impressive lead. Can the Celtics finish this series in less than seven games? Or…will the Pistons take back control of the series in win a Game 7 in Boston?