At some point in your basketball season, it comes down to the players that step up and make plays and the players that don't. The Celtics made plays down the stretch last night and the Pistons didn't. All series, I talked about whether the other players, Rondo, Perkins and the struggling Ray Allen and whether they could make plays. They did, and that's why the Celtics are moving on.
I watched the game from start to finish and at the beginning of the show, ESPN did their usual 'wired' segment showing partial excerpts of the pre-game locker room speeches. I like what Doc Rivers had to say:
You don't need a speech from me, we're the better team. I don't have to trick you to fire you up, we're the better team. We don't need trick plays, we're the better team. But what we have to do is focus. Have great focus. Have great mental toughness. Dominate our space the entire night on offense and defense.
Here is the speech as well as what I thought was a key play in the 4th quarter when the Celtics made their run with Rondo hitting that jumper. In fact, Rondo and Perkins were key factors down the stretch on offense and defense,
Attacking the Double Team:
Tactically, I liked what the Pistons were doing. They were trapping the ball-screens on Paul Pierce to get the ball out of his hands. On the trap, the other 3 defenders were zoned up to cover the ball reversal. They wanted the ball to go to an open Rondo, then it was up to Rondo whether he would make the play or not,
Here is another play from earlier in the 4th quarter. PP beats Prince on the bounce and by getting into the lane draws Rasheed and Maxiell. That leaves Perkins alone on the baseline. Again, good help defense to stop PP, but allows Perkins to get underneath for the dunk,
The past 2 games, I thought the Celtics really matured. In Game 5, they withstood a ferocious Pistons comeback and made enough plays to secure the win. In Game 6, they fought back from 10 down to take the game, the series, on the road and carried that to the NBA finals.
The NBA finals are now set, the classic matchup of Lakers vs Celtics, Magic vs Bird, all over again. It really is going to be a great series, one that I can easily see going 7 games.
If you're a big Celtics fan and a coach, then you should check out Kevin Eastman's DVDs on Skill Development. Coach Eastman is a skill coach with the Boston Celtics and this DVD features his famous Celtic 40 shooting drill. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.