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OPEN LETTER: WHAT THE CELTICS CAN LEARN FROM ROAD HOUSE

Real men do shirtless tai-chi. Getty Images

TO: BOSTON CELTICS
FROM: ESPNTHEMAG.COM

Dear Boston Celtics,

Congratulations to you gentlemen for making it to the Eastern Conference Finals without winning a single away game. Dispatching the upstart Hawks and the LeBron-show (in seven game series at that) did make for some exciting television, but it still begs the question: "Why can't Boston win on the road?"

This is an urgent if enigmatic question (Game 3 is Saturday night). There is, however, one man who's unique perspective on the world often yields priceless bits of wisdom and who is specifically qualified to inspire a road win in Detroit. We speak, of course, of James Dalton, the character played masterfully by Patrick Swayze in the 1989 movie Road House, a.k.a. "the best damn cooler in the business." If James Dalton could turn the Double Deuce bar around in about 114 minutes (and inspire a recession-stricken early 90's America in the process) then he can certainly boost your road woes. Doesn't "The Palace" (at Auburn Hills) already sound like a seedy bar anyways?

Here are some of Dalton's more timeless tidbits, and how they can be applied to the Eastern Conference Championship series against the Detroit Pistons.

"Never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected."
Ask Orlando if they saw Rodney Stuckey coming. The fact is, Detroit's young bench players are picking the right time to understand their respective roles and come into their own. They have quality backups who can produce in a hurry in Stuckey, Maxiell, and Hayes, and that means for you guys that no possession is a "break." At the same time, your bench has one distinct advantage in this series—Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown have 28 years NBA experience between them (not to mention Posey and House). Make the Pistons go to their bench early.

"Take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary."
"Absolutely necessary" meaning that moment when you're laying down on the scorer's table and a fan throws a beer on you. Sorry, Ron Artest, but because you unleashed the "Tru Warier" inside onto Detroit's fans, games at The Palace are now under more referee scrutiny than most. And by "most" we mean "any other game anywhere." Watching KG and Sheed play is like watching an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm … you know that at any moment something is likely to set them off. So, Celtics bench, if and when something does transpire on the court in Detroit, keep yourselves off it. Get up, jump around, scream if you must, but don't step foot on the court. Showing support and "Ubuntu!" doesn't mean getting suspended like Amare and Diaw last year. Let's relegate the fracas to media and blogosphere like the Cavs/Wizards did in their series. It makes for much more compelling television, anyways, and it gives Skip Bayless and Woody Paige something to freak about.

"I want you to be nice until it's time not to be nice."
It's the Eastern Conference finals. You're the Boston Celtics. Where is the swagger and confidence that comes with putting on the shamrocks on the road? Larry Bird would tell people what he was going to do, knowing that they couldn't stop him. It's going to get physical when you play the new Bad Boy Pistons, and that's the way you should like it. Play with that edge you do at home. Know that they can't stop you. You're harder than they are, they just took one from you in your house (where you were undefeated in the "-offs") now its time to take one back.

"Pain don't hurt"
KG, it's up to you to set the pace and free up your shooters by taking it hard to the rim—every time. Are you so worried about Jason Maxiell, Antonio McDyess, and Sheed that you have to settle for those 20-foot fade away jumpers? You're Kevin Garnett. Your intensity is contagious, and everyone appreciates how unselfish you are. But now it's time for YOU to step up and earn that ring even if it means catching a hard foul or an elbow to the face. "Pain don't hurt", but missing out on your best chance to win a championship because you got away from your game plan on the road will.

If Road House taught us anything, it's that real men do shirtless tai-chi. And that a proper, well-executed game plan is crucial in turning around a run-down bar (or winning NBA playoff games on the road). Also, that there's no such thing as too much hairspray. Thank you, James Dalton. Let's see if your advice can translate into a Celtics' NBA Finals berth, and if Road House 2 will offer a game plan for the Lakers.

That is all,

ESPNTHEMAG.COM