Alright, that's it!

Okay guys, that's the end of my basketball writing here on Blogspot. I now share Motoring Pistons over on MVN, which I think is a nice move. Traffic should increase by a bunch, that's the main component. Go check it out.



The day after and I'm still psyched up! But can you blame me? For the fifth time (somehow, all of them within my lifetime), the Pistons are going to the Finals. Can't say I was much of a fan for the first three (I was four in 1990) but last year's and this year's are certainly must see events for my life. Thus, I have a right to be psyched.

Stein... fine?
I think this is the best article I've ever seen him write! Impressive. Granted, he doesn't agree with my opinion on the victor of the series, but that's alright. I consider these two to be the two best teams in the league (did last year too, didn't go as well for SAS) and either one winning certainly wouldn't shock me. Nice article.

The white guy named Kiki chats it up
I think Cleveland's going to have to make a monstrous offer a la the one the Lakers offered to the Krz las year, but more towards a GM's salary range to get Kiki out of Denver. Unless Denver doesn't want to give him a long deal in the coming future. Then he might be persuaded out with less "effort". Either way, for the great job he's turning that former sorry franchise around, he's going to get paid for a long time by someone.

Skiles locked up; Blog writer proven correct
See? Nothing to worry about for the Bulls fans. No word on the cash involved, but I'm sure it's in the range for $16-$20 million.

Yes, it's an Insider article and until someone with Insider gets off of their ass and helps out the Bleedinginc site (seen linked to on the side), we won't get the full thing for quite some time. But that's not the point. I link to this for two separate reasons. The first is the topic of the article. Pop was the best man at Brown's wedding... that might be the other way around. Might be both, actually. Regardless of that, they're both good friends, that's the idea. Pop was one of Brown's assistants at the Olympics. Not only are they good friends, but they might be the two best coaches in the league. Yes, helps that they happen to coach two of the best teams in the league (as I said earlier, I've considered them the best for two years now), but the fact stands. Brown's great, Pop's great, they're both great at what they do.

It should be a good coaching matchup, until ABC hypes the hell out of it anyway. As happy as I am to get rid of THE CLOSER and INTO THE WEST, I feel like we're going to start getting slammed with GREY'S ANATOMY and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. I think the last of the four is done, but with Parker's girlfriend in the crowd, they won't shut up about it regardless. No, I haven't seen any of these shows, but even if I did, I wouldn't want to hear about it every ten minutes like the other ABC playoff or regular season games. Darn networks. At least ABC only flashes little adds on the bottom of the screen, rather than doing the split screen crap. That's one improvement. Moving on to the second reason I linked to the article, which is to point out a quote:

San Antonio versus Detroit is a matchup of two fantastic defensive teams that aren't quite as capable at the offensive end.

Granted, the Pistons are about average on offense, we know this already. The thing is, the Spurs' stats don't say that about them. They were 9th in the league in offensive efficiency during the regular season and so far in the playoffs, they're 3rd. Granted, that'll drop by the time this series is done, but it still stands to the point. I know, Denver's the only good defensive team they've faced (we knew the Sonics blew and Phoenix dropped from average to bad after round one) but it's still very good. The Spurs aren't a bad offensive team. They've got that nice three pronged attack (even though Parker's been weak all playoffs) and their role players (Mohammed, Horry when in the playoffs, Barry) are effective scorers as well. Like the Pistons, they can come at you from all angles. They're just more consistent and have the best player in the league.


Driving the last spike

Dancing in the street!
Hey hey! What did I say? So many good things come of this. The new league superhero doesn't advance to the Finals despite the... uh, okay, no reference to Willis Reed here. Shaq, who promised a title this year, doesn't get to the Finals. As noted on the fabulous Fark, Detroit beats Miami in Game 7, Kobe Bryant waiting for Shaq with UFIA. Precisely. And the best part? I can finally witness the series that I (and oh yeah, I'm in the minority) have been waiting for for some time. Pistons versus Spurs. It's going to be super duper. I'm so hyper, I love it! David Stern suicide watch '05 is on, by the way. Programming note, Finals Preview will be up as the Thursday post.

The thrill of victory
Now, for less of a fiery ball of excitement and more of a breakdown. It was a really great game. Can't say I liked a lot of the officiating (I thought Bevetta being there would help, but apparently not), but it was fairly balanced overall. Every round has someone to draw my ire. First round was AI, second Reggie, third Wade, fourth will probably be "The Sickness". But as I was saying, the game. "The game!". Rasheed had a nice showing, as I suggested he would. When the headband came off in the first quarter, you had to figure he was going to go into "Angry Talented" mode, rather than "Angry Annoyed" mode. Rip couldn't miss from inside 23 feet in the first half, that was fun. Tailed off a bit in the second half, but that was alright. Ben's O boards were good, but what impressed me the most about his game was that he didn't have any fouls until about when four or five minutes were left on the clock in the fourth. Then he proceeded to put some perfect fouls on Shaq. Very good job by the DPOY. Tayshaun wasn't very effective offensively (though I liked his O boards), but his D was nice. More on that in a moment. I knew Chauncey wasn't going to brick any of those late game throws for two reasons. One, he's a very clutch guy. Two, he missed the FT on the T earlier, meaning that he wasn't going to miss anything else in a game of such magnitude. He's Mister Big Shot, as the phrase goes. Was very happy and psyched up when he went to the charity stripe so late. Not all was good, though. Lindsey! Agh! I want to scream every time the ball is in his hands and it isn't there because he just stole it. The bench wasn't all bad, of course. Elden was on pace for 31 boards if he were to play 36 minutes, that was good. McDyess provided some pop off the bench, also good. Certainly outplayed the opposite bench anyway.

No more playoff games on TNT for the rest of the year
Finally, I'm free of that wench Kyra Sedgwick and the West! Yay!

The agony of defeat
Paging Eddie Jones, come on. Where was the guy? Boards were good, but that's about it. Couldn't defend, couldn't shoot, couldn't... be an effective third option. Haslem was very good, I really don't know why they didn't go to him for more than six shots. Oh, I know! Because they had to go to a guy shooting 35% from the floor twenty times instead. I know his PPS is 1 (weak, but not terrifying) but again, that's not good if it's going on twenty shots. I realize he was hurt, but he still tried to push the issue quite a bit. The one game where Shaq is still effective outside of Q1 and Wade keeps on going with it instead of going for more feeds. I guess there was one positive about Wade taking it so much, it made Marv Albert extremely happy in the pants. I swear, every time he made an FG... "Dwyane WADE WITH THE BUCKET". Fortunately it only happened seven times and none of the times were in Q4. So yeah, the point is I didn't care for Wade's doing. Shaq, on the other hand, was great. Hit 3/4 of his throws down the stretch, PPS of 1.42, 9 boards. Not bad at all for the Diesel. But as I said above, his promise is broken. I bet Mitch Kupchak is also dancing in the street tonight. Dooling was alright, aside from that stretch where he got three fouls in about two minutes. Damon Jones seemed to trip over the center line when he hurt himself, can't say much there. Mourning was okay, but couldn't defend McDyess. Butler didn't show up, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop there. All in all, they played alright, but due to poor shot distribution, they lost. Wade going Walker ends the season. Somehow, I expected this.

Apparently all of the Finals games are going to be at 9 PM ET
I'm going to be so dead at work. Side and personal notes, I start work in eight hours and I'm getting broadband back later in the week. Not that this matters, you'll just have a pair of reasons to blame if my updates happen to be at strange times. Just a heads-up.


The waiting room

I think I'll go one by one here.

Stein - As much as I don't care for his writing and general opinions, I appreciate his lack of bailing on a prediction.

Bucher - Makes good points. I agree completely with what he says.

Broussard - Most dominant player since Jordan... funny that, since Shaq's career started right when Jordan's first one ended. Also, "it showed" in game six too, it just happened to be in a losing effort. So his thing about rebounding makes no sense. No dice.

Legler - Lakers had the two most dominant players last year too. Yeah.

Anthony - Doesn't really delve into anything special here. Meh.

Ford - Normally I don't really care for him either, but in this case he knows what he's talking about. The Pistons will clamp down in game seven and he knows just who the main contributors to the intensity are.

Hollinger - Like Anthony's, but for the other team. Again, meh. The guy's got some great stats but I really don't care for his articles.

Spears - Again it's general knowledge, but still nice to read, I guess. Sort of meh.

James - I like it. He mentioned the lack of back to back wins, but I don't think that really jumps out at you. Not at me anyway. It's not like they haven't played well enough in consecutive games, they just haven't pulled such things out.

All in all, a nice segment, aside from a few of the guys not giving much insight. Also, the line before the article on the main page was:

History says home teams win Game 7 in the NBA playoffs 82 percent of the time.

The Pistons have shown they're in the minority before, I bet they'll do it again.

There's not much else to say. There's been plenty of dissection on what will happen in every ambiguous case. How Shaq plays, if Wade plays, how intense the Pistons are, how "distracted" the Pistons are... there's a pile of variables. It's going to be a great game, I think. It'll be a nailbiter. I just hope Chauncey is the one taking the majority of the shots down the stretch for the team in blue. That's all I've got for now, I'll see you as soon as the game concludes (provided the road team is victorious). Go Pistons.


The lady lies

Give it away now
Well, that wasn't too zesty. The Heat had three guys (Shaq, Butler, Zo) making contributions and none of the Pistons big men did much that was worthwhile. Due to the lack of Wade, there are only a few things I can take from this game. One, Rasheed may have been going Walker but with him barely shooting in game five and shooting like crap in game six, I think he'll respond by shooting very well in game seven. Two, a note that three things in a row is a pattern (or series). Rasual Butler has had two good games in a row. If you get my drift, well, he won't show up in game seven. I don't believe he's capable of a pattern of good games. Three, I take that Stan Van Jeremy will play eight guys at the most tomorrow. I mean, Smith had one previous playoff minute (why the heck did they trade for him if they weren't going to use him?) these playoffs before tonight, Laettner did absolutely nothing and Anderson hadn't played all series up to this point. Zo, Dooling and Butler will be the only ones to get time off the bench tomorrow, that might aid the Pistons. I think taking three things from that Wade-less beatdown is pretty good, personally. Well, I took more things, but those are the only ones that impact the next game. Also, on the topic of Eddie Jones and his cut... Chauncey got cut earlier in the series and had no foul called on him, but he didn't go crazy. He didn't shove the guy he was guarding (in Jones's case, Rip) into the crowd. You get the idea. It's already happened the other way, it can't be that terrible for him.

"What you say?", part two
I heard a lot of strange things come at me care of TNT before and during the game. I didn't listen to "after", but if I did I'd probably pick up on something else to go along with this. I'll number these chronologically. Note, since my memory can't distinguish between the voices of Kerr and Collins, I'll just refer to quotes between them as K/C.

1. The first thing out of the mouth of Sir Charles was "It's over tonight"
Thanks for playing, Chuck. I love hearing the guy speak, but... ouch! Not one of the better things he's said.

2. David Aldridge talks about how Brown showed the team tape of "Game 7 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals"
This game is non-existant, of course.

3. K/C refers to how the Pistons played the Knicks in the 2004 playoffs
Again, non-existant.

4. K/C talks about how Steve Smith had a great game with the Charlotte Hornets earlier in the year against the Pistons

5. When the Heat were down about 20 points, K/C said that Van Gundy will take Shaq out and see if the team can come back
So he's going to take his best player out with his second best player injured... and see if the team can come back in the fourth quarter from 20 down. Makes perfect sense to me!

6. When Shaq came back in about three minutes after #5, K/C said that Van Gundy will put him in to see if Shaq can do something positive
But I thought Stan was going to see if the team could come back without him! And something positive? He wound up with 24, 13 and 5, most of that coming prior to the fourth quarter. What he got more of in the fourth instead were turnovers. Again, the guys aren't making sense.

Yeah, it kind of sounds like nitpicking... but there are six things they were factually incorrect about or way off about. As I said earlier, three is a pattern. Six is a long pattern.

I know I said I'd come big tonight, but... I really expected there to be more to talk about. Wait, I found something! Something stupid, of course! What would the world be without stupid stuff to make fun of?

It's time for another round of, "Let's judge a team with a roster full of injuries by how they played without their second best player for one game!"
A quote to start, as usual.

Van Gundy could take Wade, O'Neal and the last 10 players of almost any NBA roster, and he'd have a team capable of reaching the NBA Finals. Take away Wade from that collection, and Van Gundy would have what he had Saturday night -- humiliation.

O'Neal and Wade are that good. Eddie Jones, Damon Jones, etc.? They're that bad.

Thanks for that one, 3G. Always good to know that a guy who shot 43.2% from behind the arc during the regular season (43.7% in the playoffs) and a guy who plays great D, shoots well for the most part and routinely guards the opposition's best scorer are "that bad". Next this guy's going to tell us that Nash is only good because he has Amare and Marion to pass to. The Heat's supporting cast is great! They're dinged now, but they're still a very good team. Granted, they're not going to come close to winning game seven if Wade can't play, but honestly, who expects him to sit that out? I'm sure he'll do everything within his power to come out there, pain every time he breathes or not. To use an overly worn out phrase, I'll eat my hat if Wade doesn't play on Monday. One more thing, Wade's Roland Rating is -0.1 for the regular season. +4.8 for the playoffs, but that's still only fifth best on the team. But... but... without him there, they're so horrible! Oh, the lime-anity! Like many, the guy needs to do his research before firing up the word processor.


Just a job to do

Well, we had two bits of big news in the league today. I guess I'll start with the one that's more pertinent to this blog.

It's funny because he says what some of us are thinking
It's no big deal. Regardless of the officiating (which I've said has been equally bad for both squads, though Wade's certainly been the biggest benefactor of it), I think they'll win game six fairly easily. The seventh is the tricky one, of course. Really don't have much to say now, just want to get six out of the way. After that's done, I'll come back strong, I promise.

I'm sure there will be a big deal made about this one, mainly because of the big number involved. But really, is it that bad? It's like that mom who got the stripper for her kid's 16th birthday party... it's not really that damaging, there just happen to be strange rules against it. Well, maybe it's not like that, but you get the idea. George Karl happening to watch a workout of some guys three, two and one day(s) before the list got put out doesn't require a three game suspension and a giant fine, but whatever. It won't hurt them much. It's not like they got multiple first round picks ripped like Minnesota (and over Joe Smith of all people!).

Sorry, that's all I've got. As I said, I'll come hard tomorrow when (no ifs) the Pistons are victorious.


In limbo

To quote Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, "What were you thinking?"
Holy crap! I've talked in the past about bad shot distribution, but this was ridiculous! Arroyo and Lindsey combine for 15 shots, while Rasheed has 3? Brown's got to give those two a stern talking to and very soon. Granted, a few of Arroyo's were down the stretch when the game was pretty much out of reach, but it still adds to the problem. Not only was the distribution bad, so was the selection! In the fourth quarter, they got the Heat into the penalty with about 8:30 left on the clock. So what did they do the rest of the quarter? You'd think they'd try to pound it inside, slow the game down and get to the stripe. Instead, they proceeded to take deep jumpers for most of the remaining 510 seconds. Pretty much everyone except Ben was to blame with the shot selection. Chauncey took some weird triples, Tayshaun was seemingly scared to go inside after Wade beat him there twice in a row, Lindsey needs to learn how to hit layups... jeez. Rebounding was good though. However, what was the worst part about this? As bad as their O was, their D wasn't really that bad. Miami just got some great performances. Rasual Butler played out of his mind (did you see those jumpers on the baseline?), Damon Jones was coming out of nowhere, Shaq was good past the first quarter (!), Haslem... well, they didn't defend him too well. Most of his buckets were on open jumpers. Like I said, it wasn't so bad.

But there is a cure!
As bad as their O was in a fairly crucial game, I'm still confident they can win the series. As mentioned yesterday, they've done this before. Last year I was kind of down after game five against the Nets, but the Pistons pulled it out. Granted, the game seven is on the road this time, but I believe in them. They're 8-0 in their last 8 games with a chance to close out the other team, so I think that the final game being in Miami isn't that troublesome. Also, Wade might be dinged up. Speaking of that, that was terrible! They claimed he tweaked his back on a jumper, but he went out of the game after taking that "charge" on Rasheed. Funny thing about that "charge"? Rasheed came at Wade head on and Wade fell at a 45 degree angle. Hm... not suspicious at all! If Wade and Shaq are both not 100%, then the Heat are in a lot of trouble. Butler and D. Jones won't be so effective next time. Also, I don't want to hear the "Pistons only won the series because Wade and Shaq were hurt" card if (when) the Pistons win it. Ben took an elbow in the mouth from Shaq a few plays later and continued to play after a moment's rest (due to the stoppage in play). Finally, there's the big one, the Pistons "play well with their backs against the wall". Sounds dumb, but it's true. They won when down 2-1 to the Pacers and Heat, they've won in tough situations in the regular season under the mantra... you get the idea, we've heard it enough times. So let's recap: They've done it before, they're awesome in close out games, Wade might also be hurt and they play well against the wall. In conclusion, the Heat will finish their playoff run with a record of 11-4.

The best player to have a career FG% of 40.4 died
It's funny. Well, it's sad and funny. George Mikan was one of the all time greats, which is sad. Widened the lane because of him, made great use of the hook shot and so on. On the flip side it's funny how there's so much love because "he was the first" yet there's occasionally a severe lack of love towards Wilt because, as one person once put it, "You could put Chris Mihm in the league during Wilt's time and he'd have similar numbers". Note, this was before Mihm turned into a decent player partway through last year. Tell me, is there anyone better than Mikan that you could apply that phrasing to? Yeah, he was the first star, that's all well and good. But until guys like Bob Pettit and poor Maurice Stokes came along, there was pretty much no one near him in size. Even then, Mikan had 40 pounds on Pettit and 3 inches on Stokes. I think you could make a pretty good case for the Lakers' current center back when their #99 center was running wild. At least, a better one for then than when Wilt was dominating. I'm not saying that Mikan wasn't great, he probably was, but a lot of his greatness might've been due to that he happened to come into the game at a time where the game was bereft of big men.

More bloggery, part three
If you didn't catch it in the top right there, my NFL blog is up now. For more details, check it out.