This is how the rest of the NBA sees the Celtics. The closest squad to them is the Detroit Pistons and they play tonight to change their season series from a split (1-1) and possibly inch themselves closer in the Eastern Conference fight for home court advantage throughout the playoffs as well as the best record in the NBA.
The Celtics are now 46-12 and can clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win and some losses by other squads and Detroit is 3 games behind at 44-16. This game is huge and it if it wasn't for the Celtics suffering a 3 game losing streak on their recent West Coast road trip while KG was trying to get his conditioning up and timing back then it could've been a potential 5 game lead going into tonight's action.
Due to my sister being smart enough to get some tickets to Celtics games a full year in advance (meaning while they still sucked and even BEFORE the official schedule was finalized she picked teams...we know people), I have seats to tonight's game (the last game I attended was versus the Spurs). Buc and I will leave in a few hours. I've been looking forward to ths game for close to a month now.
The Celtics are playing pretty well as of right now during this five game win streak. Kendrick Perkins has been on a tear averaging a double double and 3 blocks over the last three games and Rajon Rondo is playing some tremendous defense and racking up dimes like crazy (16 in one game and 10 in another). Ray Allen has snapped out of his shooting slump and he's been hot since the All Star Game. Tony Allen is back from injury and the C's just signed Sam Cassell to shore up the point guard position (he won't play tonight due to a wrist injury). This game is going to have a playoff atmosphere and I know it's gonna be loud as hell up in The Jungle.
It's all gonna come down to controlling the pace, defense (that includes rebounding) and being able to move the ball effectively to get those critical points in the paint. If they do that, they'll get to the free throw line enough to frustrate the Pistons (they also need to hit their free throws!). This means that Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, James Posey, Eddie House, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Tony Allen and Leon Powe all need to have good games tonight.
The other scenario involves the Celtics running the Pistons into the ground and kicking their asses so bad that the ESPN, TNT and NBA TV analysts and commentators end up saying that the Boston Celtics are far and away the Beasts Of The East and the best team in the NBA. We'll see which scenario jumps off.
Edit (as of March 6th, 2008 12:45 PM):
We got to the game and we were up in the Balcony in Section 312 right next to the Dunkin' Donuts Kids Section. It's kinda cramped up there and I don't understand why people would go get food and bring in back to those tight ass seats and eat there. Eat somewhere else in front of one of the numerous monitors in the arena, don't try to do that Indiana Jones inching along the ledge sideways bullshit with a tray of chicken and french fries past me during the game. My knees are under my neck and I'm missing Rondo driving to the hole! Fuck outta here with that! Onto the game:
The arena was packed...and loud. The audience was hyped up in a way I haven't seen since I was at the 2005 Playoffs versus Indiana. The game started out fast and the Celtics were extra aggressive on offense and defense. They pushed at every opportunity they could. Taking the ball to the hole, sticking their defenders, boxing out, grabbing key rebounds, they did it all and jumped out to a 21-9 lead with just under 2:30 left in the 1st quarter.
The crowd was going crazy. KG. Perk and Rondo came to play and Ray Allen (3 pt, 8 reb, 5 ast) pretty much gave up his offense to do dirty work as a facilitator, he stayed on the perimeter rebounding and hitting the open man as a decoy.
Rajon Rondo kept pushing the pace and Kendrick Perkins (10 pt, 20 reb, 2 blk ) commanded the paint, this gave Kevin Garnett (31 pt, 6 reb, 2 ast) to freedom to knockdown the J and get in the paint to abuse his defender time and time again. The Pistons came back several times which is to be expected from a veteran squad that's battle tested, but the Celtics responded each time and pushed the lead right back to double digits again.
The last time the Pistons tied the game at 69-69 and after a bunch of odd calls, including a missed and one on Tony Allen which he was visibly upset about got him a tech for showing up the ref for bitching about a missed call, the Pistons hit a three and made it a one point game at 78-77.
Headband P had been sitting for mad long and people in the stands speculated that he was either in the doghouse or injured. We knew what was coming...Paul Pierce did his part and coolly stroked the three. We all knew the C's were pulling this one out (as did the Pistons). The Pistons had committed 5 team fouls before the Celtics even committed one in the 4th quarter and that ultimately did them in along with Kevin Garnett, Perk and Rondo. His dunk energized the entire arena...it was officially a wrap!
The C's outrebounded the Pistons 50-38 (20 came from Kendrick "The Hulk" Perkins) and they frustrated the Pistons all game long with tight team defense and their overall intensity to win 90-78. The Celtics are the Beasts Of The East and the best team in the NBA. Bring on the Lakers so they can get smoked again.