Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Win Or Lose Game 7, Pistons Have Proven Their Mettle

Unlike Games 1 & 2, the lane closed fast and often on Ginobili in Game 6

At one point early in the Pistons' remarkable 95-86 win in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Game 5 hero Robert Horry had fallen flat on his keester, and Ben Wallace took advantage of the situation and slammed the ball home. The symbolism was clear: Game 5 was an ancient memory for these Pistons.

At this point, I almost don't even care if the Pistons win Game 7. Okay, I do care -- very much so, frankly -- but I am so proud of them right now that, to me, they've already proven themselves with yet another display of their mental toughness. I certainly wouldn't bet against them in Game 7 -- no way, uh-uh. How could you? By now, after watching the last two playoff runs by this team, you'd have to be blind -- both in eye and in heart -- to not see that the Pistons absolutely do not wilt under pressure. They are 5-0 in games in which they face playoff elimination under Larry Brown, and at least three of those have been in the most hostile of situations: Game 6 in New Jersey in '04, Game 7 in Miami ths year, and last night's Game 6.

The entire city of San Antonio was just ready to burst out with partying and celebration. The champagne was chilling in the Spurs' lockerroom. The parade, we were told over and over, was planned for Thursday. The Pistons hadn't won in San Antonio since 1997. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But the Pistons have this unreal ability to take such situations and turn them into positive energy and play their toughest basketball. So Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton went out and proved that if they aren't the best backcourt in basketball, then they are most definitely the best that has never made an All-Star team. Toss in some Tayshaun Prince offensive boards at the most key of moments, devilishly gutsy play from Rasheed Wallace, who was aggressive yet restrained with his five fouls, and the Pistons took control of the game in the closing moments. They had seen a seven-point lead that they had tried to nurse wittled down to one, 87-86. Then in the last couple minutes, Detroit outscored the Spurs 8-0. Hello, Game 7.

The only parade that will occur in San Antonio on Thursday will be the marching of the Pistons into the SBC Center to try to do what nobody thought they could do, mainly because nobody has done it: win the last two games of a Finals series, on the road, to win the championship. The funny thing is, the Pistons will still be underdogs, but that's just fine. But it's not right. I think the Pistons, considering the situation, should be looked at as having the upper hand. This is one of those moments they relish.

Once again, the 2-3-2 format changes the dynamics of this series. Normally, the Pistons would ave won a home Game 6 to force Game 7. But not only have they pushed this series to the brink, they have exorcised those "You haven't won in San Antonio since 1997" demons, all in one fell swoop. Forcing a Game 7 by winning Game 6 on the road is a whole different animal. Now all the Pistons have to do is relax and have fun, as I hoped they would do in Game 6, because most folks still think the odds are against them. And maybe the odds, from a mathematical sense, are indeed not in their favor.

Just the way the Pistons like them.

1 comment:

Ian C. said...

This team never ceases to amaze me. Whenever they're faced with elimination, the Pistons somehow get it together and put together an outstanding performance.

Even though a loss tomorrow night would be disappointing, at least they would've gone out swinging - like a champion - and that's all we've ever wanted as Pistons fans.