May 20: Celtics 88, Pistons 79

The AP reports: 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 Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics’ 15th straight home win… Kendrick Perkins had 10 rebounds for Boston and Rajon Rondo scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, hitting a 3-pointer with 1:47 left in the game after the Pistons cut the deficit to 83-75. Rondo also had seven assists and five steals while outplaying Chauncey Billups, the MVP of the 2004 NBA finals, in his return from a right hamstring injury… The Pistons quickly erased the first-quarter lead, even going ahead 13-12. But they trailed 41-40 at halftime and scored just 17 points in the third quarter, 10 from Richard Hamilton, while the Celtics took a 69-57 lead on Eddie House’s 3-pointer with 2 seconds left. Stat Notes: The Celtics shot 52.2%, the Pistons 42.4%. Three-pointers weren’t much of a favor. The Pistons got to the free throw line a bit more, and hit a slightly higher percentage. Rebounding was even. But the Celtics dished 27 assists, the Pistons just 15. Turnovers were close.

For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett (11-of-17) had 26 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. Paul Pierce (9-of-18) had 22 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists (but 5 turnovers). Rajon Rondo (5-of-9) had 11 points, 7 assists and 5 steals. Ray Allen (just 3-of-10) keeps struggling and had 9 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. Kendrick Perkins had 10 rebounds.

For the Pistons, Tayshaun Prince (just 7-of-16 with no free throws) had 16 points and 4 rebounds. Richard Hamilton (just 5-of-13) had 15 points and 6 rebounds. Antonio McDyess (5-of-10) was good with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Rasheed Wallace (just 3-of-12) had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Chauncey Billups (3-of-6), returning from injury, in 31 minutes had 9 points and little else.

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