Like most Aussie NBA fans I was glued to the live box scores during the marquee matchup on Sunday between the top-of-the-league Celtics and the coasting Pistons. I don’t remember a regular season game being so hyped – at least in the East – for a long, long time and it points to just how much this Boston team has completely transformed the identity of a once debilitated conference. Oh don’t get me wrong, I was also very pissed off to see my Pistons lose. That’s why I’m writing this blog today – I spent all of yesterday cursing in front of the ‘04 Championship Poster in my bedroom, hiding from the bandwagon Celtics supporter living in my house (he claims he’s always been a Ray Allen fan so it can’t be “bandwagon”… I’d abuse him more often but who wants to be a Sonics fan for the next three years?). 

The dust has settled. The Celtics celebrated ”like it was the Superbowl” according to Chauncey, while the Pistons gave their usual dismissive “this game doesn’t mean anything” tone which is fine except they give the same tone when they bow out in the 6th game of a playoff series, so the disguise kinda wears thin after a while. Who really got the upper hand after this duel? It’s 1-1, both teams winning on the oppositions home court. I think both teams can take positives, and I’m not just saying that as a wounded Pistons fan. Right now I think Celtics and Pistons fans alike could put forward decent arguments as to why their team would triumph in a seven game series. Depends how you look at it, really.
 
From a Celtics fan’s point of view: You firstly have to be very happy about winning a game on the road in one of the most feared opposition venues in the league. Feared because back-to-back Final’s runs were made there only a few years ago, and feared because if you get lost outside somewhere in Auburn Hills you’ll probably get shot. You have to be happy that with two of the big three (Ray and KG) having sub-par games you can still beat quality opposition. You should be extremely happy that Glen Davis, a role player at best, contributed in the most clutch fashion imaginable by dragging your team to victory over the final minutes – not Pierce, not KG, not Ray, but Glen freaken Davis. You have to be happy that those subscribing to the “Celtics cannot beat the Pistons cos Chauncey will kill them at the point guard spot” theory are plain wrong, after containing Chauncey to a relatively quiet game, a game in where his PG opposition was struggling. Last, you have to be happy that psychologically this Celtics team has risen to another challenge and succeeded, when it seems challenges are coming every week. Every hyped game featuring the Celtics just gets tougher and tougher for them to win – its like a balloon about to burst, an inevitability not even the 72-win Bulls could circumvent. Those Bulls actually lost back-to-back games after stringing together a few ridiculous win streaks. The Celtics are showing a mental toughness that is a vital ingredient in any championship run. I’d be happy about that.

From a Pistons fan’s point of view: You’re happy because every other team in the league has been belted by this Celtics squad, and in two matchups you’ve managed to win one, and then lose narrowly – clearly you’re doing something right. You’re happy because for the second straight game against the Celtics you’ve managed to keep KG relatively quiet, who is the real trigger for most of those big Celtics wins. You’re happy because Maxiell and Stuckey both contributed and will only improve come playoff time – these are your X-Factors that you didn’t have last season. You’re happy because you match up nicely against the Big Three, and it took someone else to come up big for the win. You’re slightly pissed because you remember what Daniel Gibson (that “someone else”) did in last year’s playoffs when you thought you’d discovered how to stop Lebron. But you can live with yourself because you’d rather “someone else” beat you than the superstar players? Right? I mean, that makes sense, doesn’t it? Somebody please?!?

And other reactions around the league from the point of view of:

The Phoenix Suns: “If we had played and just reached our average total, we would have beat the Celts by…oh, 17 points? That sound right?”

Lebron James: “Beat the Celtics? Yeah we’ve done that. We’re all witnesses baby! And we can do it again, over a 7 game series? For sure! Lebron James can stop Paul Pierce every day of the week. WE ARE ALL WITNESSES. And we got Larry Hughes to clamp down on Ray.. and as for KG, well, we got… ahhh… well we got, ummm… Drew Gooden! *silence* What? Drew Gooden has to play on Garnett?! Oh f–k ”

Stephon Marbury: “I should probably get more shots” 

Antonio McDyess: “I think its great, that with me in the team as centre we’ve now got 5 guys who can score and space the floor… since Ben left two years ago it’s given us a really different look on offense” (Dyess stat-line in Saturday’s game: 4 points on 2-6 shooting, 5 rebounds, 6 personal fouls)

Greg Popovich: “Boston played who? Where? Detroit? Are they still good?”

Shaquille O’Neal: “Celtics won? So what. They can win all they want. Regular season means nothing, I’ve been in this league long enough to know that. Come back and tell me in May. [Dwayne Wade] “Pssst Shaq, we won’t make it to May… we’re the worst team in the East” *silence* [Shaq] “I should be taking more shots”. [Wade] “No f–king way man, last time you said that we lost 9 of our next 12!” 

Ben Wallace: “I wish I could grab rebounds again” 

Scottie Pippen: “Hmmm… that Pistons teams looks like they need help. I’m a coach you know.. even better, I can still play the three-spot. I’m like the next Tayshaun Prince!! Arrghhhhh I’ve f–king lost my mind!!”  

David Stern: “This rivarly is great for the league. It’s great to see a Detroit rivarly where the fans don’t get KO’d by the players and both teams can run the floor in a high-scoring game. [Journalist] “Comissioner, the Pistons only scored 85 points and shot less than 40% from the field in this game..” [Stern] “What? I thought Ben Wallace left this team two years ago? I’m going to punch somebody”

Ben Gordon: “I wish I could shoot jumpshots again”

 

Yep, it really depends how you look at it.

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at 1/7/2008 8:05:25 AM

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