Celtics finally get a road victory
AUBURN HILLS, MICH -- The Celtics were tired of hearing about their struggles to win on the road this postseason. So they went out and did something about it.
Boy, did they ever.
Finally looking like a championship club away from home, Boston dominated the Pistons pretty much from start to finish Saturday night en route to a 94-80 victory and a 2-1 series lead.
Kevin Garnett had 22 points to lead six Celtics in double figures as Boston avoided becoming the first team in NBA history to start 0-7 on the road in the playoffs. More important they regained the momentum lost after their 103-97 home defeat in Game 2.
"We wanted to come our real aggressive, kind of take the crowd out of the game," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce.
"We know Detroit is a good home team, and if they got off to a good start and got the crowd going it was going to be tough."
Boston scored the first eight points of the game to silence the raucous white-clad Palace crowd, then built the lead to 15-4 midway through the frame. Six Celtics scored during the siege.
After foul trouble sent Garnett and Ray Allen to the bench early, Detroit regrouped to go on a 13-0 run of its own to get back in the game and actually take a 17-15 lead. But Boston's bench, led by Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown, answered back with a 10-0 run to close out the quarter and Detroit was never closer than four the rest of the game.
"Tonight we took care of business," said Garnett, who added 13 boards, six assists and two steals. "It's always good to win on the road."
In ridding themselves of their road albatross, the Celtics also might have found their championship form.
Boston looked like the juggernaut that rolled through the NBA during the regular season -- home or away - Saturday night, getting the job done on both ends of the court.
They made 46.4 percent of their shots, while limiting the Pistons to 38.4 percent shooting, including 1-of-13 from downtown. They had 20 assists on their 32 field goals. They outrebounded Detroit 44-28.
More important they showed some of the fire that made them the NBA's best road team during the regular season. They shared the ball. They talked on defense. They answered every Pistons run.
When Cassell came off the bench to nail a rainbow three late in the first quarter, the Boston bench erupted. After Kendrick Perkins reached back to tip in an improbable offensive board, Garnett and Pierce came over to congratulate him. When Allen finally nailed a three-pointer to break a long scoring drought, he pumped his fist.
"I told you guys before the game, we've been a very good road team all year," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We just lost in the playoffs...
"Maybe losing at home and taking away our security blanket made them focus more."
After the game, Pierce was asked about the team's road woes so far in the playoffs and whether it was a relief to have the monkey off its back.
"More like a gorilla," he said.
Now that the Celtics have proven they can win away from home, they suddenly look again like the beast of the East.