Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We have an elimination game. But it's not the team we expected that's on the brink

I'm not sure what to say. I thought the Pistons would come out with guns blazing. I thought they would dodge the bullet. Instead, they shot blanks and were hit by a howitzer.

Chauncey Billups didn't show up till halfway thru the 3rd quarter, but had to leave early. (Dick Stockton when Billups fouled out: "What a smart foul!" Uh...what?) Billups did not play smart at all, the most egregious example being his fouling Damon Jones, of all people, on a 3 pointer. Antonio McDyess finally arrived in the 4th, but where was he for the past 4 and 3/4 games? The rest of the bench still hasn't decided to show up, unfortunately. Big Ben Wallace was there, but his awful awful awful free throw shooting finally came back to bite the Pistons on the ass. Big time. That's a bullet that the Pistons have dodged for years. Till tonight. Tayshaun Prince was good for the majority of the game, but not good enough to hit a shot in the clutch. Rip could not hit the big shot when needed. He's had chances over the past 2 games to drain game changing shots, but couldn't sink them. 'Sheed was hampered with his bad ankle and hounded with constant foul trouble. And throw in a badly timed tech for good measure. (Reggie Miller on Sheed's T: "He's gone for Friday's game!" Uh...what?)

Flip Saunders? I'm not sure where he's been. He's getting out maneuvered and out coached by Mike Brown, a rookie head coach. Let alone Flip managed to get himself T'ed up during a tight game. For some reason, Flip can't get the Pistons a good shot coming out of time outs, evidenced by the cluster that was the final 2 posessions. Maybe Billups fouling out had something to do with the lack of execution. The Pistons had opportunities, but they just couldn't capitalize with a good look. Maybe there was something more than a lack of talent causing Saunders to lose all those 1st round series with the Timberwolves. Expect Flip Saunders to be pilloried by the Piston faithful and the media to scorch the earth around him if they blow this series.

What happened to the smart disciplined ball the Pistons played during the regular season and 1st round of the playoffs? That game has disappeared over the past 3 losses. Turnovers are killing the Pistons, and that had not been a problem all season. Suddenly, they can't protect the ball.

I still don't feel like the Cavs won, as much as the Pistons lost. Sure, LeBron had 32 points, but it took him 30 shots to do so. How Allen Iverson-esque of him. But give James credit, as he fed Drew Gooden for a much too easy basket that ended up being the game winner. A layup by a role player, who was only in due to Z and Sideshow Bob fouling out, for the win. That's not how I'd expect the Pistons to lose a playoff game. James hitting a big circus shot? I could somehow live with that. But a Drew Gooden uncontested bunny? Not so much...

Maybe the Pistons need to face the firing aquad, have their backs against the wall, with blindfolds on, to play their best. We all remember the Nets going up 3-2 in that heartbreaking 3OT loss in 2004. But the Pistons staved off elimination then, and have done so several times in the recent past. Against the Magic in 2003. Against the Nets in 2004. Against the Heat in 2005. The Pistons nutted up and came back to win those series. They won an elimination game against the Spurs in game 6 of the 2005 finals. The Pistons seem to play their best in elimination games. They are capable of doing so again.

The series is not over. It takes 4 W's to move on. The Cavs winning on Friday is not a given, far from it. The Pistons have always clawed out of the playoff holes they've dug for themsleves. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway. But the question remains.

Have the Pistons finally dug themselves into one hole too many?


  1. I agree with everything you said but the last statement is the one that rings the truest to me...

    "Have the Pistons finally dug themselves into one hole too many?"

    I am afraid that something tells me the answer to that is yes. Against the Nets in 2004 I just knew the Pistons would bounce back, they were so much better. Against the Heat last year I knew it would be okay, sorry, even today I don't give the Heat much props. Even the Spurs series last year I thought it would be okay. But this series has just been so weird that I do not know what to think anymore and I am afraid the dirt might be piled up a little too high now in that hole for theses guys.

    That look on McDyess' face... I think that picture sums up the feelings of every Pistons fan the best.

  2. I hope I'm wrong, but I think it's done. I pry to God (seriously, I do) that I'm wrong, but I'm not feeling too good about this today.

  3. You're so right about Gooden's game-winning shot. How in the hell did the Pistons let him get that deep in the post, and that close to the basket? The Pistons teams we know never would've let that happen.

    This team has just gotten lazy, and it might be too late to shape up.

  4. Of all the people it had to be Gooden... that dude rubbed me the wrong way a few years ago when he was with Orlando and he still gets to me now! He just gets that face and the gesters after he does something like he is the man! He is a scrub but darn it that scrub got it last night!

  5. It's not over people ... Have faith!