Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pistons' Goal: Make Celtics Play Their 1st Series Of '08 Playoffs

The Boston Celtics are the first team to reach the conference finals without having played even one series on the way there. Pretty slick, huh?

Oh, I know the record books will show otherwise. There it is, forever captured for posterity: Celtics 4, Hawks 3. Celtics 4, Cavaliers 3. But neither of these were series.

It's been said that a best-of-seven series doesn't really get going until a road team captures a game. Not a bad notion, really. The games definitely seem to ratchet up in pressure when a favorite has to scramble to win home court back. The Celtics have yet to have to do that; then again, they've yet to win on the road. But that's why you go out and win more games than anyone else in the league -- to afford to go winless on the road. As long as you TCB at home. History says, though, that sooner or later the Celtics will have to actually play a playoff series before they entertain thoughts of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

The Pistons are just the team to force the Celtics into a series.

They didn't do it last night -- didn't really come close, actually -- falling to Boston, 88-79 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But, with all due disrespect to the Atlanta Hawks and none to the Cleveland LeBrons, the Celtics aren't playing a tune-up any longer. The Pistons, despite last night's hiccup, aren't likely to go 0-for-4 in Boston. Which means the Celtics have to figure out a way to win a road game in the post-season (they're 0-6 so far), and you could pick some easier places to do that than in Detroit.

The Pistons lost at home to Boston way back in the wintertime, but that was mainly due to the out-of-the-blue contribution from rookie Glenn Davis, who has been relegated to spot duty in the playoffs. And, as far as that goes, the Pistons snatched a game in Boston in January.

But the Pistons won't make it a real series with Rasheed Wallace continuing his confounding tendency to go into hiding at the most inopportune moments. Sheed was sheet in Game 1, and it's anybody's guess why. Sometimes I think the world of Rasheed Wallace is a world that none of us have ever inhabited. Which is fine, except that in that world, something obviously grabs his attention more than the task at hand on the basketball court -- you know, in our little place called the real world. I won't regurgitate Wallace's numbers here because I'm sure you'd rather not sneer at your computer, but let's just say that it's also just as likely that Game 2's Wallace numbers will dwarf Game 1's. Because Sheed's World Order rarely allows two sub-par performances in a row. So that's good.

Oh, and Boston's Ray Allen still isn't off the dime yet. He went 3-for-9 last night, his shooting woes continuing. Chasing Rip Hamilton around isn't exactly the tonic to fix that, either -- despite Rip's rather quiet presence last night.

This Eastern final isn't a series yet. Chances are that it may not become one until Game 7. But the Pistons will take 1-for-4 in Beantown, because they're a good bet to go 3-for-3 in Detroit. Even I know that adds up to four.

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