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Starting five: Celtics 106, Pistons 102

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  May 29, 2008 01:03 PM

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Postgame overreaction while basking in the Jesus Shuttlesworth revival . . .

Tedy Bruschi
(Getty Images Photo)
1. Though it's not really my perspective, I understand where those old-school Celtics fans who view this particular team with a certain detached admiration are coming from. It's hard to have genuine affection for a team, even one as talented and successful as the one Danny Ainge has put together here, when they're still in the process of establishing their own legacy, becoming familiar . . . becoming ours, really. The 16 previous basketball champions in this city set the bar impossibly high, and with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and even Paul Pierce, we're still in a prove-it-to-us mode. Which brings me to last night, and the first real signs in a while that these Celtics may be capable of living up to such standards. Our optimism isn't buoyed solely by Kevin Garnett's 32-point masterpiece, or Ray Allen's redemptive 29-point breakout, but by the way they accumulated those numbers: Garnett, who was more commanding down the stretch than his reputation suggests, buried a pair of dagger free-throws with 3.4 seconds left, and Allen fearlessly drilled a baseline jumper in the final minutes when the game was in danger of slipping from their grasp. Now that was a classic postseason play, one of those shots where the ball hangs in the air and time seems to freeze just long enough for you to say please-please-please go in . . . and it does. And there you have one of the first signature postseason moments for this team, one that causes even a skeptic's admiration to grow, a moment that, should this team go on to win the championship, will be replayed on the DVR in our minds for years to come.

2. Allen, of course, wasn't the only Celtic starter to enjoy a night of redemption. Kendrick Perkins, with 18 points and 16 (16!) rebounds, was an absolute beast pretty much from the opening tip, and those of us who were calling for Leon Powe to receive some of his minutes are glad to be proven wrong today. I'm fairly certain Bob Ryan would tell you Perk's performance was a page torn right out of the Paul Silas Guide To Proper Power Forward Play. Now let's see if Perkins can take the next step and play that well in Detroit.

3. He's got a long way to go to become the most despicable Piston of all time - Little Lord Fauntleroy still gets my vote, as genuinely great as he was - but after watching weaselly Rip Hamilton apparently blow out his elbow while putting the kung-fu grip on Ray Allen's throat, I'm ready to say he's in the starting five. I couldn't help but wonder, as he was duping Kenny (Look! At My Hair! I'm A Mini-Pat Riley! ) Mauer and the officials with his clutching-grabbing-flopping antics, that Johnny Most would have come up with an appropriate nickname for him back in the day. Probably "The Masked $*%*%**#*#" or something of that sort.

4. While poking around various basketball websites looking for answers as to why supertalented Rodney Stuckey lasted until the 15th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft (ridiculous answers I found: played at a small school, not dazzling athletically, possibly too short to play shooting guard, looks too much like 50 Cent), I noticed he was born April 21, 1986, which happens to be the day after Michael Jordan dropped 63 on the Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. I'm not sure what the point is here, other than that Stuckey is young, I'm old, and it's been a long time since the Celtics won a championship.

5. As for today's Completely Random Basketball Card:


We're going with the late, great DJ today for two reasons: It seems appropriate to remember him after what can only be called the second-most stirring Game 5 playoff victory over the Pistons in Celtics' history, for he was the co-hero in the first. (Seriously, check out the degree of difficulty on this layup again, consider the circumstances, and tell me that's not one of the biggest pressure shots in NBA history.) As for our second reason, reader Mark H. sent along this Where Are They Now? flashback regarding the '86 Celtics from Steve Rushin's blog (Steve Rushin has a blog?), and it was both heartwarming and a little sad to be reminded again of the tremendous respect Larry Bird had for his longtime teammate.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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