The PIstons have now taken the game in Boston that I expected, and the onus is squarely now on the Celtics to go on the road and at least get a split at the Palace. Detroit gutted their way to a 103-97 victory thanks to Rip Hamilton busting out for 25 and Rodney Stuckey hitting some clutch shots down the in the fourth quarter to chip in 13 overall. The Big Three scored well — Garnett had 24, Pierce 26, and Allen 25, but Jesus Shuttlesworth was hampered by foul trouble even though he was breaking out of a shooting slump.
Stuckey’s development remains the most fascinating aspect of the Pistons to me right now. The expansion of the rotation to get him and Jason Maxiell involved in the offense not only takes less pressure off guys like Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, and Chauncey Billups (not like those guys can’t handle the pressure in the first place), but it keeps the rotation fresher and able to take better advantage of the other team’s lapses.
Come Saturday, we get to see if Rajon Rondo, Eddie House, James Posey, and all the other Boston reserves can step it up on the road, make the Pistons work, and come out of Detroit with one more game in their pocket. If not, then my prediction of six games will look prophetic. Then again, we are talking about Flip Saunders. Will he be able to stay out of his own way and keep his players doing what they do?
Photo: AP/Winslow Townson