Tuesday , May , 27 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Celtics Snooze and Snore in Game 4

The Celtics came out flat at the start and never seemed to get it going as the Pistons led from start to finish in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons rushed out to a 10-0 lead before Kendrick Perkins hit a layup with 4 minutes gone by to stop the run. The Pistons then ran out to a 14 point lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter. The Celtics hung around and chipped away at the lead to finish the first quarter down 22-17. In spite of shooting just 20% and allowing the Pistons to shoot 43% for the quarter, the Celtics were still in it.

The Pistons started the 2nd quarter on an 11-2 run to jump out to a 33-19 lead 4 minutes into the second. Perkins then hit a jumper in the paint, Kevin Garnett hit two free throws and Perkins scored on a dunk to cut the lead to 33-25. On the next possession, Rajon Rondo got a steal then kicked the ball and chased it all the way to the baseline. He flipped the ball to James Posey for a layup as he was falling out of bounds and the lead was just 33-27. The Pistons then went on another run to push the lead back to 10 with 5 minutes remaining in the half. Just as they did in the first quarter, the Celtics chipped away at the lead and cut it to 43-39 at the half. Rondo once again made a big play as he drove to the hoop and flipped up a shot as he was falling out of bounds, drawing the foul with just 4.2 seconds left to cut the lead to 4 points going into half time.

The Celtics started the 3rd quarter with KG hitting two free throws to cut the lead to 43-41. The Pistons once again went on a run to push the lead back to 10 8:01 left in the 3rd. The Pistons kept the lead between 9 and 11 most of the quarter with the Celtics going on a little run to finish the quarter down 65-58.

In the 4th quarter, the Celtics twice cut the lead to 5, the last coming with 4:50 left in the game. However, every time the Celtics made a run, the Pistons would come right back. When they built the lead to 14 with 1:16 left, Doc threw in the towel, pulling the starters and going the final minute with Powe, House, and Tony Allen getting their only playing time of the game.

The Celtics’ defense that was so good in game 3 was nowhere to be found in this contest. The Pistons had open looks and easy baskets, shooting 51% for the evening. Antonio McDyess in particular killed them with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Also curiously missing as the flow of the Celtics’ offense, as they shot just 32%. Considering the disparity in shooting, free throws played a large part in keeping Boston in the game as they shot 39 free throws to just 26 for the Pistons. The Celtics also failed to take care of the ball turning the ball over 14 times while their lackluster defense forced only 7 turnovers for the Pistons. The Celtics won the rebounding battle 38-34 but they allowed the Pistons to out rebound them by 7 in the second half.

Individually, no Celtic stood out. The Big Three weren’t so big in this game as KG shot just 6-16 for 16 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists. Paul Pierce shot 3-14 to finish with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 1 assist but also led the team with 4 turnovers. Ray Allen was 2-8 from the field to finish with 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Perkins spent most of the game in foul trouble and fouled out with just under 4 minutes to go in the game. He finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds. It seems that as Rondo goes, so goes the Celtics and Rondo struggled tonight, finishing with 4 points (2-8), 2 rebounds and 4 assists.

The Celtics’ bench that came up so big for them in game 3 also struggled as Sam seemed lost in running the offense and finished scoreless on 0-3 shooting with no assists and just 1 rebound to show for 16 minutes of play. Big Baby also seemed lost at times as he went 1-4 for 3 points and 4 rebounds. P.J. Brown was solid with 4 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes. James Posey had a good game off the bench with 11 points on 3-6 shooting to go with 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 22 minutes.

The Celtics didn’t come to play in this game, much like the Pistons didn’t come to play in game 3. It seems as though neither team can put two good games in a row. The Celtics came out strong in game 1 and dominated on both ends but failed to show up defensively in game 2. The Pistons had a great game 2 and shut the Celtics down but then, they didn’t show up in game 3. The Celtics dominated the Pistons in game 3, blowing them out on their own court, but once again, they didn’t show up in game 4. If this pattern continues, the Celtics should come out the winners. Game 5 is very important as the Celtics must now protect their home court. The team that comes out with the most energy and aggressiveness to start the game has won in each case. It will be up to the Celtics to be sure that they are the ones that come out with that energy to start game 5 because they don’t want to have to go back to Detroit down 2-3 in the series.