Preseason Game 5: Celtics vs. Detroit Pistons, October 15, 2003
The Celtics Beagle working hard on his next review.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 latter. 

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 point.

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 line.

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 way. 

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.