The Boston Celtics won their second-series on Sunday, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in a hard-fought battle on the Celtics’ own court.
In one sense, you couldn’t really call it the Celtics vs the Cavaliers. It was Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James… and the margin of victory came from Pierce’s supporting cast over James’.
Just look at the numbers.
For the Cavaliers, LeBron James was 14 - 29 from the field, and 14-19 from the free throw line, for 45 points.
No one else on the team attempted more than 9 shots. In fact, the second highest shot attempts came from three men with 8 a piece.
Things were slightly more balanced on the Celtics side.
Paul Pierce was 13 of 23 from the field, and 11-12 from the charity stripe, for a total of 41v points. LeBron had 6 assists, Pierce had 5.
Kevin Garnett at least took 13 shots! Rajon Rondo took 11 - but dished out 8 assists…probably all to LeBron James. (The other man in the three-headed Celtic monster, Ray Allen, was only 1-6).
Sportswriters and fans are already comparing this game to the Larry Bird-Dominique Wilkins matchup of 20 years ago in which Bird got the better of Wilkins and led the Celtics to the conference finals against Detroit. (He scored ten less points than Wilkins, but 20 of those points came in the 4th quarter when his team needed him to take over.)
This time, the conference finals are going to be against the Detroit Pistons, starting Tuesday, May 20. The Pistons are well-rested, having finished off their opponents in five games (which means, of all the teams in the Eastern conference playoffs, they are the only ones who have managed to win consistently on the road.)
“Today it was basically get the ball to Paul Pierce and get the hell out of the way,” Kevin Garnett said in an interview after the game. But for all that scoring…perhaps the key for the Celtics was P.J. Brown, who came off the bench to not only score 10, but also grab key rebounds.
It will be interesting to see how the Celtics fare against the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons have no LeBron James - they do have Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, and Tayshaun Prince.
But will the Celtics have more than Paul Pierce?