Tuesday, May 10, 2005
According to some observers, Ben Wallace & Co.
should muscle the Pacers out of the playoffs in four straight
It always amazes me how out-of-shape the media types in this town are, especially the sportswriters. They're a pudgy lot, which is hard to believe considering all the exercise they get jumping to conclusions, leaping to assumptions, and putting carts in front of horses.
Now they're at it again -- some of them, anyway.
The Pistons took care of the Indiana Pacers rather handily, 96-81, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series. Now this wasn't all that surprising, considering the Pacers had only dispatched of the Boston Celtics in a seventh game 48 hours earlier and the Pistons had time to rest, heal their aches and pains, take a vacation to Paris, and return. And they were the home team.
But already some ink-stained wretches have this series signed, sealed and delivered for the Pistons in four, maybe five games. To hear them tell it, Indiana will be lucky to steal even one game in this series.
Oh, when will they ever learn?!
Calling a series over after one game is foolhearty, but hardly without precedent. And, to be fair, it isn't just the Detroit media that is guilty of it. Do I think the Pistons will win it? Absolutely. But I also won't be surprised if it goes at least six tough games.
The Pacers know how to win in Detroit, and if they "ugly" it up, they can make this interesting. Coach Rick Carlisle has done a phenomenal job squeezing as much out of his at-times depleted squad as is humanly possible, and it's quite likely the Pacers will straighten out their act once they find their legs and get into the swing of things in this series.
Besides, how many times has a team looked awful early in a series, yet pulled itself together in time to win the darn thing? A best-of-seven series is a grind-it-out battle of attrition, full of peaks and valleys. In the 1997 Western Conference Finals, the Red Wings, leading 3-1, got spanked by the Avalanche in Denver, 7-0. Two nights later, the Wings ousted the Avs. In '99, the Wings won the first two games of the Conference Semifinals in Denver, and with Red Wings fans -- and media -- crowing about a sweep, the Avalanche got Valeri Kamensky back in the lineup, and four games later the Avs were moving on and the Red Wings were planning tee times.
Need I mention last year's ALCS? You know the one -- when the Yankees blew a 3-0 series lead? Or, more recently, this year's NBA first round in the West, with the Dallas Mavericks losing Games 1 and 2 at home, yet regrouping and capturing the series with a colossal Game 7 blowout?
Oh, there's more, believe me -- but you get the drift.
There's no question the Pistons should eliminate the Pacers; they are deeper, more talented, and have the heart of a champion.
But don't let Helen St. James of the Detroit Free Press fool you -- it won't be over in four, or five. Alas, some folks just don't learn lessons very easily.