Celtics jump on Pistons

From the Associated Press

BOSTON -- Not even a week of rest could prepare the Detroit Pistons for the hottest home team in the NBA.

Kevin Garnett had 26 points and nine rebounds and Paul Pierce scored 22 points Tuesday night to give Boston an 88-79 victory over the Pistons in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics' 15th straight home win.

Despite having only one day off after a Game 7 that eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers from the conference semifinals, Boston scored the first eight points against a Detroit team that waited six days for the series to start.

"Rest is not an option," Garnett said. "So we don't even think about that."

Rajon Rondo scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter and had seven assists and five steals while outplaying Chauncey Billups in his return from a right hamstring injury.

"I believe in him. I play him. I'm going to keep playing him," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said of Rondo. "I told him before the game, 'Stop worrying about them. Make them worry about you, too. You're a hell of a basketball player.' "

The Celtics improved to 9-0 at home in the playoffs, but they're 0-6 on the road.

"They haven't lost a game; they should be confident," said Billups of Boston's home court. "They have been very good here at home. We are usually a really good team; we didn't have a good game today, but we look forward to Thursday."

Billups scored nine points with two assists, two steals and two turnovers in his first game since May 7. Tayshaun Prince scored 16 points and Antonio McDyess added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons.

"This was the perfect game for them to come in and try to steal one," said Pierce, who had 41 points in Game 7 against Cleveland . "And we were aware of that."

But Detroit looked rusty early, missing its first five shots while allowing Boston to take an 8-0 lead on Allen's drive with 8:36 left in the first quarter.

"We just didn't seem to be in a good flow, it might have had something to do with [the layoff]. We were just a step slow," Pistons Coach Flip Saunders said. "We didn't get into the flow."

Billups made a second-chance three-point basket to end the drought and make it 8-3. But he did not make another field goal -- he had four points and no assists in the first half -- until there was 4:47 left in the game.

The Pistons quickly erased the first-quarter lead, even going ahead, 13-12. But they trailed, 41-40, at halftime and scored only 17 points in the third quarter while the Celtics took a 69-57 lead.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World