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The Celtics had a large 17-point lead towards the end of the game, but it was far from over. The Detroit Pistons are not a team that can easily be counted out when there are still several minutes of basketball to be played, and they proved that. The Pistons provided quite the scare late in the fourth quarter and managed to get within one point of the Celtics’ lead. It was not enough though and the Celtics went on to win 106-102 to take a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. They are one win away from moving onto the NBA Finals for the first time since 1987.
This was a night for all the Celtics starters: the bench was only able to put three points on the scoreboard (thanks to a three pointer by James Posey). It was a game where the stars of the team needed to step up, and they did just that. Kevin Garnett led all scorers with 33 points tonight and grabbed seven rebounds. Ray Allen continued to emerge from his slump by having a huge night with 29 points and critical three pointers as well as a two in the final seconds of the game that helped secure the win. Rajon Rondo had seven points and made 13 assists. Paul Pierce added 16 points. But tonight, the starter that stood out from the rest was Kendrick Perkins.
Perk finished the night with 18 points, 16 rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots. This game was great for Perkins and hopefully he continues to play with the intensity that he had in Game 5 in the upcoming few games. If the Celtics bench only produces a small amount again in Game 6, then Perkins and Rondo will need to step up and continue to play at a high level and give the “Big Three” the support they need to finish off the Pistons.
Detroit did get more support from their bench, but were still lead by three starters specifically: Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, and Richard Hamilton. Wallace finished with 18 points, Billups had 26 points, and Hamilton had 25 points. Rodney Stuckey came off the bench and continued to show his skills as a rookie by finishing with 13 points. Stuckey missed a critical free throw for the Pistons in the final seconds and then made a free throw that he wanted to clank to give the Celtics a chance to finish the game off.
The Celtics’ intensity in this game was great. They were down in the first half and were having trouble with some calls from the referees, but then exploded in the second half of the second quarter. With Ray Allen having two great games in this series it seems that he is improving and will hopefully display his talents on the road for Game 6. The Celtics will need to play just as well and with the same intensity level they did in Game 5 if they want to move on to the Finals.
Also, the bench may not have done the scoring tonight, but they did not play very meaningful minutes either. Posey and P.J. brown were the only two bench players who played over 10 minutes and never really had shots or looks at the basket that were very good. It would be nice though to see a bench player come alive and provide an extra boost to the offense. Leon Powe comes to my mind for that scenario, but I am not sure why he has not seen any meaningful minutes really since early in the Cleveland series.
Game 6 will be on Friday night in Detroit.
Tags: Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons, James Posey, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Leon Powe, P.J. Brown, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey