By Sam Rubenstein

Last night the biggest game of the season in the East so far was played. The question was, are the Celtics “for real” given whatever definition you want for the phrase “for real”, now that they faced an elite opponent. The answer and the final result gave us the following points of light:

-The Celtics bench was thought to be a weakness this season. It was good for absolutely nothing last night, except when Eddie House hit a huge three to set up Ray Allen‘s even bigger three. Oh, and Tony Allen contributed by getting pump faked into the air by Chauncey Billups, who has never missed a big free throw in his life. To put it delicately, Boston’s bench needs to play better.

-The Pistons thrive in the role of underdog. Even going back to the Rick Carlisle teams, they just love to play that “We’ve been disrespected and overlooked” card. That’s a big thing for them. The Pistons loved how big this game was and how badly the opposing fans wanted it. Chauncey hit a b-b-b-b-b-b-ig shot down the stretch before the Celtics furious comeback, and he was smiling and celebrating all the way back to the other end. Rasheed was called for the mother of all phantom fouls, when his man stepped around him while Sheed froze there stiff, but he kept his cool and didn’t go after the ref. Instead he dug in and played harder, coming up with two huge blocks. Sheed knew he had to stay in the game, so he chose not to have a Rasheed moment. It was that big for his team.

Kevin Garnett vs. Flip Saunders… can’twinthebigone can’twinthebigone can’twinthebigone can’twinthebigone can’twinthebigone! I found it fascinating that Chauncey Billups was once just another name in the line of failed KG second-fiddles in Minnesota. Now, in that game, the big one in the East so far, when it came down to winning time, you had to have more faith that Chauncey’s team would find a win than KG’s, or Paul Pierce’s, or Ray Allen’s. Or Doc Rivers‘. Ever since Manny Ramirez made his infamous decree “So what if we lose, we’ll try again next year”, the Celtics have lost more than infinity billion times as many games as the other two Boston area pro teams that matter (hockey doesn’t count, no offense if you’re offended for some reason).

Boston had a chance to win with a buzzer beater, they got the ball to Paul Pierce who shot too soon, setting up Chauncey’s move to get Tony Allen in the air. Great comeback from the Celtics at the end, particularly the ballzy shooting from Ray Allen. But at the end of the night… they have 3 losses, one to the Pistons, one to the Magic, one to the Cavs. Arguably the three greatest threats to their Finals appearance.

ALL OF THAT BEING SAID…

The national TV game that followed it on ESPN seemed to be there for a reason. Phoenix vs. Dallas. Flashback to a year ago. Two teams running away with the best records in the league, putting together ridiculous streaks where they’d win like 24 of 26 games, and everyone took it as an unquestioned fact that we were headed to a Dallas-Phoenix series for the ages. Their regular season games were the most anticipated of the year, and they lived up to the hype a few times. Then the playoffs came, and uh, yeah the regular season is a monumental waste of time but keep checking out the site every day!

Detroit and Boston could very well meet up in the Eastern Conference Finals, and I’m sure that Boston will now be the extra-motivated team next time they face each other in the regular season. But as last year taught us, you never know. You just never know…

On another note, HAPPY FESTIVUS EVERYBODY! I take pride in that I don’t think I complain too much about things that happen in life in my writing for Slamonline. I participated in the Airing of Grievances, and it was fun to really go hard after one of my enemies. Keep checking that happy festivus link throughout the day. Nice working with you Mr. Chiles. Mike Vick needed you.

Finally in Lang’s post yesterday, there was the question of top 5 movies of the year. Here is the correct answer: if the video game BioShock were a movie, it would be movie of the year no questions asked and you wouldn’t even remember the other four on your list. And I don’t mean if the game was made into a movie a la Resident Evil, I mean if the game itself were somehow a movie. I’ve been playing… I’ve been having nightmares… I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night screaming…