Thursday, June 09, 2005

It Doesn't Get Any Easier, But The Pistons Will "Git Er Done" Against The Spurs

The great Lakers teams of Shaq and Kobe never did it. The Chicago Bulls dynasty of Michael Jordan never did it. The Celtics of Larry Bird and company never did it. Even our own Bad Boys never did it.

"It" is win a Game 7 of a Conference Finals on the road.

But the 2005 Pistons did it -- the first since the '82 Sixers -- and while that certainly doesn't mean they are one of the greatest teams of all-time, it sure doesn't hurt whatever legacy they are forging during these last two playoff runs.

Frankly, to keep comparisons local, they may be more resilient than the Bad Boys of the late 80's and early 90's, if only because they seem to do things the hard way, much more so than Isiah, Joe, Bill, Vinnie and the rest used to do. Of course, maybe that means the Chuck Daly-led were better overall, because they didn't put themselves in those sticky situations nearly as much. I'm not sure. Regardless, winning Game 6 of the conference semifinals in New Jersey last year, coming back from a 3-1 deficit against Orlando the year before, and now climbing out of a 3-2 hole, including a Game 7 win on one of the most hostile courts in the NBA to capture the Eastern title -- all this surely must cement something when it comes to these Pistons' biography.

The Miami Heat were about 2:30 away from being in San Antonio tonight to start the NBA Finals. That's how much time was left when Shaq hit one off the glass to give the Heat a 78-76 lead. And when Chauncey Billups missed an ill-advised three-pointer the next trip down the court, Miami had a golden opportunity to go up by four, or more, in transition. But then the Pistons dug down deep, found some more, and pestered Damon Jones into a turnover, and seconds later, the game was tied. And anyone who has followed this team, I believe, probably got the same feeling I had: this is OUR game for the taking, baby. And the Pistons took it, along with the conference title, right smack on Miami's home floor, when the pressure was greatest.

Tell me that ain't worth something in your book.

It is because of this amazing intestinal fortitude, this unwavering focus and resiliency, that the Pistons will defeat the Spurs in six games to win a second straight NBA crown.

As usual, the Pistons are not the trendy pick. Already I am seeing where the Internet polls are running about 60-40 in favor of the Spurs. ESPN's Dee Brown, who won a reality-type show to win a spot as a network basketball expert, said in the wake of the Pistons' Game 7 win that he just had to go with the Spurs because they "match up well" with the Pistons. I wonder what the losers of that ESPN contest think. But this is all good. The Pistons love being underdogs, although it amazes me that they constantly ARE underdogs, despite all they've accomplished. Some people even thought Allen Iverson and the 76'ers might give them trouble, and it's just gone on and on from there this spring. Indiana, in Reggie Miller's swan song, was supposed to send Reggie off with an upset over Detroit. And how many people outside of Detroit thought the Pistons would defeat the Heat after falling behind 3-2? Certainly not TNT -- the network of drama -- who must be having a hangover now that their seven-part Dwyane Wade mini-series is over. Like I have ranted here before, I don't think I've ever seen a network portray a seven-game playoff series from the perspective of one player as much as TNT did with the Pistons-Heat tussle, all through the eyes of Wade. If you listened to TNT, Wade was the planet, and the other nine players on the court were the moons orbiting around him. It was ridiculous. So tell me, what has Dwyane Wade done, exactly, other than spell his first name wrong? His teams have won three playoff series, and lost two since he's been in the league. And two of those wins came against chump pretenders. Wow -- no wonder they went ga-ga over him.

So the Pistons will win it, mainly because they are the Pistons and not many people think they can do it. But as far as the actual basketball is concerned, the Pistons play just a tad better defense than San Antonio, and I don't think the Spurs have faced a frontcourt quite like the trio of Tayshaun Prince and the Wallaces. Hey, it sounds like a band, doesn't it?

No wonder it's time for an encore.

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