Preseason Game 5: Celtics vs.
Detroit Pistons, October 15, 2003
I want a "Tommy
Point" for this. This game was so ugly, I put the videotape in a
brown paper bag. In order to review it, I have to watch it again.
So, if anyone out there has pull with Tommy Heinsohn, tell him I want a
Tommy Point. Though I'm willing to accept a chocolate chip cookie.
After the game against the Pacers, I was actually feeling pretty
good. I knew there would be a few days off to work on the
defensive problems, and the team seemed to be making positive
headway. I thought the C's might be interested in some payback
for last week's game.
It was more like a continuation
of last week's game.
The Celtics only had two problems in tonight's game. Offense and
Defense; too little of one and nearly nothing of the
The game began with Detroit continuing to exploit the Celtics' nearly
nonexistent defense, throwing the ball down low to the open man--often
Ben Wallace--for a ridiculously easy layup. They did this all
last Wednesday, and obviously remembered how well it worked. It's
especially annoying after hearing from Coach O'Brien that the team had
the defense down and was now concentrating on offense.
Speaking of offense, you could hear Obie exhorting the team to move
faster. But they didn't listen for the most part. They
weren't the turtles of last year, but Detroit's defense was ready and
waiting for them. Only rarely was a pass downcourt of any kind
attempted. On those occasions when they DID make it to the hoop,
the C's often missed easy shots.
The problem was compounded in various ways by Walker and Pierce.
Pierce got in early foul trouble--three in the first quarter--and spent
a good part of the game on the bench. Walker, as I have
complained about before, tried to shoulder too much of the load on
offense and either ran headfirst into double teams, or reverted to old
habits by hoisting a lot of threes. This meant the normally most
reliable offense for the C"s was absent for long stretches.
There were individual flashes of good things from Boston. Vin
Baker continued to show steady progress and was one of the few people
running with any kind of consistency, though he did drop an easy
pass. Kedrick Brown showed he was willing to mix it up with the
Detroit defense, and Banks and James showed a mix of good and bad at
The first quarter was better than it looked, as the C's offense was
mostly keeping up with Detroit. But the Pistons spent the entire
game--except maybe the end of the 4th quarter--shooting over 60%.
Boston would score nearly 30 points in the first quarter. That
would have been fine, but for the fact that the Pistons scored nearly
40. This trend continued in the second quarter, though the C's
did make a run to narrow the lead to 4 points. After that, it
just got worse and worse.
Pierce played with five fouls late and did some offensive damage; but
as soon as he fouled out, Detroit pushed up the lead. Walker had
a miserable night, most of it his own fault. Obie tried every
lineup he could think of, and by the third quarter, I wonder if he
wanted to ask Celtics fans to come out of the stands and play.
There were good things. Despite his heaving up way too many
threes, and not passing the ball well enough, Walker did make some nice
passes and drove to the hoop on occasions. Pierce looked sharper
than he has previously, but as a rule, when he gets in early foul
trouble, he can't play four quarters.
Banks showed he was learning when and how to pass, though he obviously
has a ways to go. He got away with an elbow as he inadvertently
decked his defenderon the way to the hoop. He has to learn to
tuck those elbows in before he gets called for a flagrant. Tony
Battie kept getting caught away from his man. Eric Williams had
some good minutes, but it got lost in the overall miserable defense.
Vin Baker showed toughness under the hoop and on a night when the C's
offense was mediocre, he did well from the field and the free throw
The C's did do a little better against the press, but negated it by
missing the scoring chances they got.
In every way, the Pistons looked sharper and better prepared than the
Celtics. There's just nothing to say that really distinguishes
the Celtics as a team in this game, at least not in a positive
It did not matter if the C's ran or not, because they did not play
defense. They will be playing against New Jersey on Friday.
If they don't play defense then, the Nets will win by 40+ points easy,
unless the C's shoot 100% on offense. We can't afford any more
embarrassments like this.
And that's the view from the doghouse.