The Detroit Pistons are getting smacked in the NBA FInals. Only once in playoff history, has a team come back from this kind of beating to win a series [in 1995, the Rockets lost the first two games to the Suns by a combined 47 points]. Nothing is going right. They can't score [they are averaging 72.5 ppg]...nor can they stop San Antonio from scoring [90.1 ppg].
But why? What has happened?? This team was so highly regarded that many had them right there with the Spurs [not me...I picked the Spurs in 5].
YOU ARE LOSING AT YOUR OWN GAME. Coming into this series...there were a lot of things I thought Detroit could do [post up the guards; defend the paint] but they aren’t doing any of it. The front line for Detroit has been pitiful on both ends of the court. The starters have scored a combined 45 points in the first two games. Rasheed Wallace should have that on his own. That number would be a tad easier to stomach if they could stop the Spurs inside. But Duncan has quietly averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks. The Spurs guards have been getting into the lane and getting layups. When the Pistons made an effort to close that out....San Antonio just kicked it out for wide open 3s. Ginobili just scored 27 points by shooting [officially] just 8 shots!! Lindsay Hunter has no idea what is going on when Detroit is on offense....and no one knows what is going on defensively.
STOP BLAMING THE REFS. Look....I’ll say the refs seem to be calling the series in San Antonio’s favor. Manu Ginobili bowled over Ben Wallace twice and never got called [though Wallace did once]. But the refs don’t miss layups. The refs don’t miss defensive assignments. The refs don’t shoot horrible shots.
THE LARRY BROWN EXCUSE. I’m saying this once. No one should use the whole "Brown to Cleveland" crap as an excuse. No one. First off, Joe Dumars had to approve any kind of contact between Cleveland and Coach Brown. So it is the Pistons fault that there is any kind of rumors to speak of anyways. And also....this is Larry Brown we are talking about. Dude doesn’t sit still. Brown and the Pistons used each other to win a title. Brown knew the Sixers reached their peak and couldn’t get it done there. With the UNC job taken by Roy Williams....he found a job that had a great opportunity to get to the Finals. The Pistons won two Central Division titles under Rick Carlisle...but quickly canned him when learned they could bring in Brown. And it worked out! Brown got his first NBA title.....and the Pistons got their title for an Eastern Conference that was much maligned.
THE RESPECT FACTOR. Yes...many people around the league view the Pistons as "fluke" champions. It is quite obvious by seeing the horrible ratings....and the fact that the game, itself, was overshadowed by David Stern’s pre-game news conference. Detroit really came out of nowhere to win the 2004 title. Going into that series...pretty much no one gave them a shot to beat the Circus Lakers, who just took out the Spurs and Timberwolves by winning 8 of 10 games. But the "us against the world" stuff only goes so far. You are the defending champs...and everyone plays you as such. And the best way to knock off the "fluke" label is to do what you are doing now......win. I don’t see them as "fluke" champions...as I see them as a "passing" champion. While the Bulls and Lakers won three-peats...and the Spurs are going for their third title in 7 years.....the Pistons may just have crashed the party. Remember, they are the second straight Eastern Conference team to go to consecutive Finals. The other was the New Jersey Nets for crying out loud!
YOU ARE GETTING BEATEN BY CHAMPIONS. The Pistons came off the team bus with their "championship belts" on. Ya know...that is all fine and dandy but you are playing champions as well. No to mention that any boxing fan will tell you that belts usually don’t stick around with anyone for too long. They eventually get passed along. These are the San Antonio Spurs. The same Spurs that may have beaten you last year in the Finals if Derek Fisher held the ball for just 0.1 more seconds....and therefore be looking for their own three-peat. Regardless of that...the Spurs are old dogs at this as well....even older dogs than Detroit. And while Detroit chimes on and on about "doing it the right way"....the Spurs have been doing it the right way for quite a while now. And, as far as I know, "doing it the right way" never included losing your cool under pressure.
DO YOU STILL HAVE A CHANCE. Yes. But a slim one. There have been two instances of a team coming back from down 0-2 to win the NBA Finals [Celtics ‘69, Blazers ‘77]...and neither of those were in the current format where a team gets three straight home games. In fact, the Pistons became the first home team to win all three of those middle games when they did it last year. Their best bet is to come out with defensive intensity and offensive efficiency. The Spurs are tough on the road [6-2 in these playoffs]...but they are beatable. And Detroit will be as tough an arena as they will go into.