Celtics top Pistons, but so what?
Words on Sport/
Break out the champagne bottles: The Boston Celtics destroyed the Detroit Pistons, 116-98, on Tuesday night. Does this mean that the mystique is back? Is the Garden going to start haunting opponents again?
Before you start waiting in line for playoff tickets, remember that the game was only an exhibition game. The Celtics always perform well in the pre-season because they are still fresh. As soon as the season starts to take its toll, however, their age catches up with them, and the rest is history.
That is not to say that their play was not commendable. On the contrary, they did play excellent ball, and they did beat the defending champs, the Pistons.
On of the keys to Boston's win was the recently re-signed Brian Shaw. He brought in an element of speed that was previously missing from the Celtics. He had 12 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals. His shooting was horrendous, however, as he hit only 33 percent from the field. Overall he did show promise for the future since the Celtics have set as a priority improving their defense and emphasizing the running game.
One thing to remember is that the Piston guards were unstoppable. Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars are the main offensive weapons for the Pistons and no Celtic can stop them. Their speed and outside shooting ability make them a dangerous threat. Dumars had 20 points on 9-17 shooting, and Isiah had 21 points on 8-20 shooting. For only 28 minutes of play, these are respectable figures.
The Celtics did counter with Kevin Gamble, who I think will be the Celtics' secret weapon this year. Gamble had 21 points on 9-12 shooting. He continues to improve game by game. It was a big mistake for the Celtics last year to start Jim Paxson instead of him.
But as all Celtics fans know, the primary reason that the Celtics always lose to the Pistons is the play of Vinnie "the Microwave" Johnson, who did not play Tuesday night because of a contract dispute. Had he played, the outcome would have been different. His natural talent of "unconscious shooting" is rarely defended by anyone in the league. In addition, the Pistons' main defensive star, Dennis Rodman, did not play because of an injury.
The positive notes for the Celtics have to be the play of Gamble, Parrish, McHale and Shaw. McHale and Parrish are consistent and the new life brought in by the quick guards can only help the team.
To put things in perspective, the Celtics will have a tough year fighting for the division title because New York and Philadelphia continue to improve. It will be a close race and the winner will probably be decided late in the season. For the Celtics to win, they have to increase the tempo of their game and Larry Bird has to regain his deadly shooting form.