May 21, 2008
Fast Breaks: Pistons-Celtics
By Ian Thomsen
Game 1   Leaders
Celtics lead series 1-0   Points Rebounds Assists
88 79
Key Matchup
What is it about Detroit that inspires Kevin Garnett (right) to elevate offensively? During the season he had games of 26 and 31 points, and on Tuesday he affirmed that trend by going 11 of 17 from the field for a game-high 26 in the Celtics' Game 1 victory. "I think he was extra excited to play against Rasheed (Wallace), gets pumped up to play," said Detroit coach Flip Saunders. Added Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "He was going in the paint more than going away from the paint. That was a point of emphasis not only for Kevin, but overall for our team is that we have to score in the paint." It was obvious Garnett felt it necessary to establish his game inside by winning his matchup with Wallace, who was 3 of 12 for 11 points. "Playing Detroit is the motivation, it being the conference finals is the motivation," said Garnett. "Playing Rasheed is like looking in the mirror. Aside from Joe Johnson, I think he's the most underrated player in this league, and when we play it's just like that. A lot of respect to that man and how he plays, but I'm motivated in more than one way."

Injury Watch
Chauncey Billups hadn't played since May 5, and he had little effect on Game 1 until the fourth quarter. He produced successive field goals on drives to the basket and into the key for a jumper that pushed the Pistons within six points of the Celtics in the final five minutes. "He wasn't as comfortable coming off screens, looking to shoot it as quick," said Saunders. "He's going to have to be aggressive for us." The most important thing about Billups's performance, as pointed out by Wallace, was that he didn't reinjure the strained right hamstring he suffered in the previous series against Orlando. "Obviously my explosiveness wasn't really there," said Billups. "But I felt good, and I know I did better as the game went along."

No Pep Talk Necessary
The Celtics showed no letdown after their difficult series with Cleveland, and Rivers said it was because he kept his mouth shut. "They hear my voice so much," said Rivers, who let the pregame film session and his assistant coaches do all of the talking. "Armond (Hill) talked the entire offense (portion of) it, Tibs (Tom Thibodeau) talked the entire defense (portion of) it. They don't need to hear your voice too much. They hear it all game, they hear it all day at shootaround."

Truth Or Dare
Point guard Rajon Rondo's shooting was seen as a major Celtic weakness at the beginning of the year, but he shot 49.2 percent during the season and made a pair of deep jumpers in the fourth quarter to keep the Pistons from making a run. "When the shot clock was coming down, he rose up and shot that like he knew it was going in," said Saunders. "You can't give him too many 'dare' shots, as I'd call it. He's made shots at home and they've been able to win at home. He hasn't shot the ball as well on the road, but we have to be in a situation to contest more of those shots."


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