Why the Pistons won: They executed the hamster wheel at light speed. Whether it was Rip (25 points) on virtually every possession down the floor in crunch time, or Chauncey (19 points, 7 assists) with 20 seconds on the clock, Detroit created open jumpers by running their guards through walls of screens. It allowed Rip to get into the lanes of the Celtics’ defense for quick jumpers or to spot open teammates. With about 2:20 to play, ‘Sheed (13 points, 10 rebounds) knocked down an open jumper off a dish from Rip which epitomized the Pistons’ team offensive scheme. Six of Detroit’s last eight buckets were assisted. They had an answer for everything the Celtics threw at them.
Why the Celtics lost: It’s easy to blame Ray Allen (9-16 FG, 25 points) for missing two crucial shots down the stretch – he was blocked on a three, and then missed an eight-foot floater, which would have cut the lead to four with under a minute left. It’d be even easier to blame him for not being able to stick Hamilton. But ultimately, the Celtics were never able to break through Detroit’s four-point cushion back-and-forth through the fourth quarter because they didn’t control the glass in the fourth quarter. Though the Pistons were outrebounded 39-31 on the game, they got the edge on Boston in the fourth 10-9. Second chance opportunities kill when you’re trying to make a comeback.