...as the Pistons 2nd half collapse against Philadelphia, ending in an excruciating 90-86 loss, had me pulling my hair out...in massive clumps.
The Detroit backcourt was beyond awful. Rip Hamilton was bad all game, and Chauncey Billups started bricklaying in the 4th quarter. The bench, save for a great game from Jason Maxiel, was nonexistent. Rodney Stuckey played like a rookie getting his first taste of the post season. Even Rasheed Wallace, who was a marvel at both ends of the court in the first half, got a "What the HELL are you doing?" out of me with the poking his head in the Sixers huddle in the final seconds.
This was not the team I expected to see.
In my mind, what was even more infuriating than the Pistons' missing gimme's and chip shots down the stretch was their post-game "We've been here before" attitude. When you shouldn't be in this position in the first place, to say "We know what to do, we've been here before" is all the more galling.
Even down 1-0, I'm not worried about this series...yet. The Pistons missed shot after shot we've seen them make all season. Tayshaun Prince and 'Sheed both clanked shots in the game's waning moments they normally drain. I can't remember the last time Billups missed 3 of 4 free throws in crunch time. So to think this was anything more than a bump in the playoff road is premature. Extremely premature.
I know Philly played damn well in the second half of the NBA season, and aren't exactly a pushover. I doubt anyone expect them to roll belly up when they came to The Palace. There's some young hungry talent there, as we saw last night. But the Pistons are a vastly more talented and much deeper team, though they sure as Hell didn't show it Sunday. Which is why I'm willing to chalk up the loss as a fluke, rather than the Pistons showing their age.
I'm also not going to blame Flip Saunders. This loss goes on the shoulders of the players. They have even an average shooting night, and make their free throws, the Pistons win by 10. The shots were there, for whatever reason (Hubris, cockiness, age, an off night, you tell me) they didn't convert. I can't hold that over Flip. But if the Pistons come out on Wednesday (Wednesday? GOD, I hate the ASININE playoff scheduling. ESPN, TNT, the NBA, dumbasses all... They could learn something from the NHL and their play every other day format) and lay another egg? I may have to reassess my feelings regarding Flip.
I'll be honest, I'm getting damn tired of seeing the Pistons putting themselves behind the 8-ball every April and May. They are better than this. Much better, and to see them underachieve in such a manner is going to make me one bald ass cue ball well before my time.
Enough of the bullshit. Play the game right, the way we all know they can, and put Philly away. Pronto!