EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

March 5, 2008

Nothing regular about C's-Pistons game tonight

Bill Burt

WALTHAM — Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was not born when regular-season games like the one he will play in tonight were commonplace.

You remember games like tonight's against the Pistons, the ones that because of the buildup felt like playoff tilts in May and early June.

Those six Celtics games against the Philadelphia 76ers, five more against the upstart Detroit Pistons and those pesky veterans from Milwaukee, and, of course, those glorious two games against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Almost all were on Sundays at noon on CBS with Dick Stockton and some ex-Celtic, usually Tommy Heinsohn, adding color commentary.

You would lick your chops two days in advance, maybe longer, praying for noon Sunday to come.

The 2007-08 Boston Celtics remind us a lot of the 1986 Celtics in terms of dominance, unselfishness and star power. But the one thing we haven't had in this watered-down NBA is a big — I mean really big — regular-season game.

Until tonight.

The standings aside, the Pistons arrived here early this morning — they beat visiting Seattle 100-97 last night — ready to stake their claim as the beasts of the East.

Mind you, this isn't Larry vs. Isiah yet. But remember, even that series took a few years to heat up. And after what we've gone through the last decade and half, we aren't complaining.

"The Garden will probably be rocking. You can already feel the buildup, at least on this end because we haven't played since Sunday and the Pistons (played last night)," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I like that. It's good when people are excited."

OK, I know, it's only one game. But the players, even the Celtics who tried to down play the "playoff feel" of it, know better.

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