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TVI
06-06-2005, 10:11 PM
Spurs vs. Detroit. The two past champs slugging it out. This one really should be a great series.

Go Spurs!

Chiwas
06-07-2005, 12:14 PM
Any enemy of the Mavs is my enemy. Go Pistons!

Seriously, this series is going to be very good with a strong balanced Spurs but an outstanding Pistons' defense.

Seven more games of NBA, for sure.

u2sarajevo
06-07-2005, 12:32 PM
I don't think it goes 7 games... but if it does, how likely would it be for Detroit to be able to overcome 2 game 7's on the road? If they were/are able to pull that off..... I would hope they gain the respect they say they lack.

But my gut says 5 games max. Spurs win.

StylisticS
06-07-2005, 01:12 PM
I think the Spurs take this in 6.

mary
06-07-2005, 01:39 PM
I feel like making lists. Everyone loves lists.

REASONS TO ROOT FOR THE SPURS

1. Its easy to root for the best player in the game, who also appears to be a good guy.
2. Its easy to root for Manu Ginobli, who is incredibly entertaining to watch.
3. Popovich is a good.
4. Geography - maybe I owe it to my fellow Texans to root for another Texas team.
5. They did what the Mavs couldn't - knock MVP boy out of the playoffs.

REASONS TO ROOT AGAINST THE SPURS

1. They are a division rival.
2. Bruce Bowen is grossly overrated.
3. Its not fun to root for a team that kicks your ass.
4. Its not easy to root for a team, when you make annual visits to their home arena and watch the game with 19,000 cocky Spurs fans (Last year they were selling posters out front of Duncan and Dirk on the court with the inscription "Duncan makes Dirk Cry").

REASON TO ROOT FOR THE PISTONS

1. Its fun to root for the underdog (and I'm thinking they are, just like last year)
2. I LOVE watching Rasheed trash talk after a made basket...or after a foul...or a block..or a rebound...or a timeout.
3. Just like the Spurs, the Pistons seems like a good bunch of guys (for the most part).
4. They are not in our conference, therefore its easier not to harbor any ill feelings towards them for previous ass-kickings.
5. Darko Milicic (sp?) will have his second ring - and you have to admit, that is kinda funny.
6. Its fun to root for a team that has no legitimate SUPERstar - just plain 'ol stars playing good defensive b-ball.

REASONS TO ROOT AGAINST THE PISTONS

1. Their fans (a small group of them) are at least partially responsible for the stupid "Malice at the Palace" and should not be rewarded with another championship.
2. They won it last year.

That's not a very good list and neither reason is particulary valid - I just couldn't think of any other reasons to root against the Pistons. If you don't like Larry Brown, you might throw that one in there.

aexchange
06-07-2005, 01:52 PM
Obi Wan Ginobili, you are our only hope.

Save us! i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif

Go Spurs Go.

Drbio
06-07-2005, 02:04 PM
5. Darko Milicic (sp?) will have his second ring - and you have to admit, that is kinda funny.

I actually cracked up at this one. i/expressions/anim_laugh.gif

MavKikiNYC
06-07-2005, 03:16 PM
Drawback to the Heat losing: I was going to post about how Wang Zhi-Zhi had gotten the last laugh on Cuban, even more than Nash, by getting to the finals before any of the Mavericks did.

Should be a great series. You want to think that San Antonio can win controlling things pretty easily, but.....the Pistons are tough--capable of playing slow-down, shut-down defense, and very comfortable winning ugly.

Hope the long rest doesn't affect the Spurs.

EricaLubarsky
06-07-2005, 03:22 PM
How can you not root for the Spurs?

dirno2000
06-07-2005, 03:39 PM
Originally posted by: EricaLubarsky
How can you not root for the Spurs?Every title they win add to the air of invincability and makes it more difficult for us to knock them off.

I think Det matchups up pretty well with them. The problem is that because of the screwed up finals format (which by the way has run it's course) the Pistons will probably have to close out the series in SA. I don't think there's any way that the spurs win in 5...I'll go Pistons in 7.

dalmations202
06-07-2005, 03:50 PM
Gut feeling says SA in 6. Although with this Detroit team, who knows.

capitalcity
06-09-2005, 08:37 PM
GAME 1 in progress...

the champs are proving to be a defensive stalwart - Pistons up 13-4 in the early going.

Pop will pull whats left of his hair out before this series is over. His boys look RUSTY.

TVI
06-09-2005, 11:24 PM
Originally posted by: capitalcity
GAME 1 in progress...

the champs are proving to be a defensive stalwart - Pistons up 13-4 in the early going.I kind of expected this tonght: First game jitters combined with the long layoff led to a lot of sloppiness early. But give Detroit credit. They're an incredible defensive team, and they made it tough. This series could definitely go 7 (but I sure hope it doesn't -- my nerves couldn't take it).

Pop will pull whats left of his hair out before this series is over. His boys look RUSTY.Ain't that the truth!

dirno2000
06-10-2005, 12:39 AM
If you're going to walk into the arena before a championship game with a title belt around your waist, you should probably score more then 6 points.

Is there a bigger enigma in the league than Rasheed Wallace...a player with his skillset should be dominant.

chumdawg
06-10-2005, 01:16 AM
Did 'Sheed really do that? I missed it.

At any rate, scoring 69 in a Finals game is embarrassing. I don't care how well you play defense, that ain't gonna cut it.

This series may not do a whole lot for casual fan interest.

dirno2000
06-10-2005, 01:24 AM
That was only the 2nd time in Finals history that a team scored fewer than 50 points in the final three quarters of a game. The other instance was when the Jazz scored 54 against in Chicago a few years back.

MavKikiNYC
06-12-2005, 01:03 PM
Sports of The Times
A No-Frills N.B.A. Finals That the Purists Can Appreciate

By HARVEY ARATON
Published: June 10, 2005

San Antonio

BEHOLD, a series about basketball.

An N.B.A. finals that features two fundamentally sound, feud-free, egalitarian, egos-in-check teams with leading men who don't dominate their casts as much as they support them.

A finals that matches a hard-hat union from the industrial heartland defending its championship and, in a larger sense, American-born honor against the internationally flavored blend of Tim Duncan from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Manu Ginóbili from Argentina and Tony Parker from France.

But can a league that has conditioned its audience by blurring the line between pop culture and sport really flourish presenting opera without soap?

"True basketball enthusiasts, who know how the game should be played, I think they will love it," guard Lindsey Hunter said before the indefatigable Ginóbili drew first blood, scoring 22 of his 26 points in the second half and powering the Spurs to an series-launching victory, 84-69, last night at the SBC Center. "Other people that want, you know, the star-studded, all the underlying stories and all that, they probably won't be too intrigued."

In other words, all celebrity-seeking sycophants, who wouldn't know a back door from a drop step, be forewarned: for the next couple of weeks, the topic of discussion will be nuts and bolts, not LeBron.

Where have all the primary shoe pitchmen gone? Home to watch on television, lest they swell the ranks of couch-potato Americans who are expected to pass on the series or just pass out. Once again, the finals are on a Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday rotation, leaving the audience in the Eastern part of the United States with pretty much the same choice as Europe: go to work or school the next day with bags under the eyes, or just bag it.

Too bad, for no matter how few points the Pistons and the Spurs eventually score, no one will be able to accuse them of not earning their millions - a point worth considering as it has become clear that the glitzy, fawn-over-me formula championed in recent years by the commissioner and chief choreographer David Stern has worn woefully thin.

Across the board, N.B.A. television ratings this spring have taken a plunge, along with merchandising sales. Bloomberg News recently reported that fan focus groups operated on behalf of the league by Matthew Dowd, a key strategist in President Bush's re-election campaign, indicate a significant disconnect.

The melee at the Palace of Auburn Hills in November obviously didn't help, but could this also be a byproduct of longstanding attempts to camouflage what many saw as a diminished product with promotional gimmickry? Is it possible that the N.B.A. has been too busy focusing on upscale demographics and is now suffering the effects for neglecting and even pricing out its core fans?

On the eve of the series, Rasheed Wallace concurred with Hunter that it wasn't going to be eye candy for the beautiful people, and he included the corporate executives in the home office. "I think that's what they're worried about," Wallace said. "Here in this series, there's no real stars; there's team unity."

Wallace has had his share of objectionable outbursts but that wasn't one of them. At long last, somebody has spoke out for the fan who has never needed or wanted pregame explosions of fire and shrieking public-address announcers, who has never gone to an N.B.A. arena hoping for a faux hip-hop experience, a staged equivalent of Woody Allen directing "Boyz n the Hood."

All real fans ask for is a good, intense game to the season's last drop, and let's remember it's been 11 years since the N.B.A. finals have gone seven. For much of the last decade, June has essentially been a coronation of a Michael Jordan, a Shaquille O'Neil. After a rusty start last night that put the Spurs into a 17-4 hole, they dominated Detroit in the second half, but it's one game at home, nothing more. Count on the Pistons, resilient and fierce, to come back Sunday, ready for Round 2.

In their march through the West, the adaptable Spurs at times played like an offensive machine. This is different, though. This is the No. 1-ranked defensive team in the league, San Antonio, against No. 2, Detroit. All baskets will be earned, the way Ginóbili sliced through the Pistons' meat-grinder interior.

He began the season coming off the gold-medal stand in Athens and now is three victories away from a second N.B.A. title. Explain why a knowledgeable basketball fan would pine for Kobe Bryant or Shaq while watching Ginóbili's imported overdrive make the Pistons look like a tired old model from General Motors, or while watching the beautifully skilled Duncan carry the Spurs from the low post early on.

I'm guessing the smart fan will take this series, will recognize the great rotational defense both teams play, appreciate the persistence of the Spurs' Bruce Bowen chasing after Richard Hamilton last night as if Hamilton had stolen his wallet.

"It's going to be a war, a long series," Hamilton promised after shooting 7 for 21.

With the Jordan bubble having burst, the best thing the N.B.A. can do for itself is come to grips with economic fluctuations, with market realities. This is a league that needs to build another foundation of credibility, promote the game first for the fan who can applaud the Pistons and the Spurs for the way they play it. The way they are likely to continue playing it for another five or six games.

MavKikiNYC
06-12-2005, 01:10 PM
Just a thought....

How much of the decline in ratings for the season is attriubtable to having multiple broadcast outlets (ABC, ESPN, TNT), two of which are only available for cable customers, and all of which suffer from poor presentation and production value?

Is trying to milk more pay-per-view killing ratings and ad revenue?

How sick are fans of the overhype of players like LeBron and Stoudemire, and the public pathologies of Kobe and Artest?

How sick are fans of seeing NBA equivalents of the New Jersey Generals (Atlanta Hawks, New Orelans Hornets, LA Clippers, perenially)? Has the NBA over-expanded? Has over-expansion diluted the talent?

In some respects, the game is getting better (IMO), but the spectacle is gettin' worse.

Murphy3
06-12-2005, 03:10 PM
Originally posted by: mary
I feel like making lists. Everyone loves lists.

REASONS TO ROOT FOR THE SPURS

1. Its easy to root for the best player in the game, who also appears to be a good guy.
2. Its easy to root for Manu Ginobli, who is incredibly entertaining to watch.
3. Popovich is a good.
4. Geography - maybe I owe it to my fellow Texans to root for another Texas team.
5. They did what the Mavs couldn't - knock MVP boy out of the playoffs.

REASONS TO ROOT AGAINST THE SPURS

1. They are a division rival.
2. Bruce Bowen is grossly overrated.
3. Its not fun to root for a team that kicks your ass.
4. Its not easy to root for a team, when you make annual visits to their home arena and watch the game with 19,000 cocky Spurs fans (Last year they were selling posters out front of Duncan and Dirk on the court with the inscription "Duncan makes Dirk Cry").

REASON TO ROOT FOR THE PISTONS

1. Its fun to root for the underdog (and I'm thinking they are, just like last year)
2. I LOVE watching Rasheed trash talk after a made basket...or after a foul...or a block..or a rebound...or a timeout.
3. Just like the Spurs, the Pistons seems like a good bunch of guys (for the most part).
4. They are not in our conference, therefore its easier not to harbor any ill feelings towards them for previous ass-kickings.
5. Darko Milicic (sp?) will have his second ring - and you have to admit, that is kinda funny.
6. Its fun to root for a team that has no legitimate SUPERstar - just plain 'ol stars playing good defensive b-ball.

REASONS TO ROOT AGAINST THE PISTONS

1. Their fans (a small group of them) are at least partially responsible for the stupid "Malice at the Palace" and should not be rewarded with another championship.
2. They won it last year.

That's not a very good list and neither reason is particulary valid - I just couldn't think of any other reasons to root against the Pistons. If you don't like Larry Brown, you might throw that one in there.

I couldn't be more disinterested in this series.

Evilmav2
06-12-2005, 04:35 PM
I agree with you there Murphy. In my opinion, this is the most yawn-inspiring finals matchup since the Spurs faced the decrepit Nets two years ago (and that 2003 yawn-fest was probably the most boring finals matchup since the Spurs faced the Knicks in San Antonio's triumphant 1999 asterisk-championship year), and it won't surprise me at all if the ratings for this series reflect that fact by being absolutely abysmal.

Now I guess, if I have to route for either SA or Detroit, I'll choose the Pistons, just so folks can't call the Spurs the 'team of the decade', but in reality I really don't have much invested in wanting either of these teams to win the championship, and I'm not all that motivated to do much other than disinterestedly watch the games. Wake me up when it's over...

LRB
06-13-2005, 12:03 AM
How sick are fans of seeing NBA equivalents of the New Jersey Generals (Atlanta Hawks, New Orelans Hornets, LA Clippers, perenially)? Has the NBA over-expanded? Has over-expansion diluted the talent?



To answer your question Kiki, I'd say yes the league has over expanded. But even more importantly the league is suffering from kids skipping more than a year or 2 of college and coming in after 2 or 1 or zero years of college ball. This has caused a vast erosion in fundamental basketball skills in favor of raw athletism. The NBA desperately needs some kind of developmental legue and wouldn't suffer from cutting back a team or 2.

Thespiralgoeson
06-13-2005, 12:29 AM
You're right about that LRB. I simply can't believe that there isn't some kind of minor league by now. It's just an absolute necessity. As for this series, I hate the Spurs and I hate the Pistons. F*ck this series! I don't care who wins, because they both can go to hell. To me, there's the Dallas Mavericks. Everyone else ain't worth sh*t. Although, I suppose I'll say that I feel San Antonio is the lesser of two evils because they're a Texas team, and I hate Larry Brown.

sike
06-13-2005, 10:14 AM
this series was over before it began....*sigh*

Misfit Mav
06-14-2005, 11:24 PM
The Pistons defense finally appears. I can't ever remember Tim Duncan having such a poor game in the playoffs. I'd still say Spurs in 6, but I'm glad it got a little competitive.

Usually Lurkin
06-15-2005, 06:45 AM
A couple things I've realized watching these games:
I hate full-contact basketball. As a fan, you just can't tell what's legal, or why somethings are legal sometimes but not others.
There are such wide swings in what basketball is (Spurs/Suns v. Spurs/Pistons), it's obvious that the refs have too much power.
Bruce Bowen is dirty. He's got a real touching story, but now that I'm rooting for the team he's on, it's even more obvious that he's dirty.

u2sarajevo
06-16-2005, 10:50 PM
What a booty stomp.

mavsfanforever
06-16-2005, 11:31 PM
They made a good series out of this but the games are still boring.

Movie Phone
06-17-2005, 11:12 AM
this board is boring, i thought there would be alot more nba finals talk than this. the finals is really fun to watch, especially since the pistons played 2 games with perfect execution on both ends. i noe what your gonna say now, "if you dont like this board, you dont have to come to it..blah blah" I just want some more people talkin about this, its the NBA FINALS.

mmmfast
06-17-2005, 11:44 AM
Originally posted by: Movie Phone
this board is boring, i thought there would be alot more nba finals talk than this. the finals is really fun to watch, especially since the pistons played 2 games with perfect execution on both ends. i noe what your gonna say now, "if you dont like this board, you dont have to come to it..blah blah" I just want some more people talkin about this, its the NBA FINALS.

These finals are a snoozefest an no one wants to talk about it.
If I'm gonna watch these kinds of games, I like to see a star on the helmet.

dalmations202
06-17-2005, 11:58 AM
A couple things I've realized watching these games:
<u>I hate full-contact basketball. As a fan, you just can't tell what's legal, or why somethings are legal sometimes but not others.</u>
There are such wide swings in what basketball is (Spurs/Suns v. Spurs/Pistons), it's obvious that the refs have too much power.
Bruce Bowen is dirty. He's got a real touching story, but now that I'm rooting for the team he's on, it's even more obvious that he's dirty.

Agreed, fully. Why are some things fouls during the season, but OK come playoff time? Why does the "home" team seem to have biased officials most of the time? These games are the reasons that the "NBA is fixed" mantra kicks up. Officiating often determines the outcome of games. Even when the same number of fouls is called it a game, it is when/what for they are called that makes a huge difference.

chumdawg
06-17-2005, 12:21 PM
As uninteresting as the games may be from time to time, I still take great joy in watching the Spurs lose basketball games. If the Pistons can finish them off, I will be a happy camper.

In fact, I may enjoy watching the postgame every bit as much as the game, in the case where the Spurs lose and Poppovich is a sourass for the media. I like that.

I also like Rasheed Wallace. I hope he gets another ring.

I also dislike Tony Parker. I hope he never gets another ring.

Oh, I do enjoy watching Ben Wallace rebound.

mary
06-17-2005, 03:42 PM
Originally posted by: chumdawg
As uninteresting as the games may be from time to time, I still take great joy in watching the Spurs lose basketball games. If the Pistons can finish them off, I will be a happy camper.

In fact, I may enjoy watching the postgame every bit as much as the game, in the case where the Spurs lose and Poppovich is a sourass for the media. I like that.

I also like Rasheed Wallace. I hope he gets another ring.

I also dislike Tony Parker. I hope he never gets another ring.

Oh, I do enjoy watching Ben Wallace rebound.

I'm a big fan of Sheed. I still wonder how close the Mavs came to a Jamison/Wallace deal two years ago. Its funny you mention the rebound thing, as last night I kept finding myself yelling, "Now THAT is a MANLY rebound!"

MavKikiNYC
06-19-2005, 11:38 PM
Amazing G5. One of the most intense, most toughly competed Finals games I remember seeing in years. Very entertaining battle of wills by two championship teams. Gotta respect both teams.

Pistons played better, IMO, and probably should've won. But Spurs hung around, made big plays when they had to have them and Horry came up huge.....HUGE.......HUGE! Amazing game by him.

For those who were a little disappointed in Dirk's post-season performance, take heart by the fact that Duncan is having a stinker of a series. He produced tonight, but pulled a major choke job on FTs in Q4, bobbled a pass which resulted in a TO on a crucial possession, and missed what could've been a game winning tap-in at the end of regulation.

Shows once again that the complementary players and role players can be the difference. Got to give the Mavs credit for realizing that and taking steps to upgrade their bench/depth last year.

chumdawg
06-20-2005, 01:05 AM
I found it interesting that when the game was on the line at the end of the fourth, neither team could stop the other. I think there were only two possessions total in the last three minutes that didn't net points. Guys were really making clutch shots.

Man, that Robert Horry is dangerous with the game on the line.

Thespiralgoeson
06-20-2005, 01:17 AM
Originally posted by: chumdawg
Man, that Robert Horry is dangerous with the game on the line.

That's another reason to root against the Spurs. I do NOT want Robert Horry to have another championship ring. I think it would be very sad if at the end of his career, Robert Horry has as many championships as Michael Jordan.

Usually Lurkin
06-20-2005, 06:46 AM
I like to think back to a year or so ago to the posters who did not want Horry in Dallas because he only plays hard during the playoffs.
I don't mind him so much. He's been lucky enough to play for some top contenders - but he does make the big plays when it counts. And his crunch-time dunk last night was all effort.

The only player I flat out dislike this series is Bowen - though I think Rip has been so overhyped it's annoying. I'm a huge fan of the Wallace's and Prince. But because I hate the goon-ball, and because I hate Hubie Brown's Piston love-fest, I hope the Spurs win. If the Pistons take the next two games (and I wouldn't put it past them) all I see is an increase in goon-ball for another season. It might be allright if the league embraced it, with penalty boxes and on-court, shirt-pulling brawls. But they pretend the game is clean, and you end up with Hubie Brown raving over a 30-sec clip of Rip Hamilton and Bruce Bown punching and shoving with no fouls, calling it some "tough D", followed by a live action touch foul by Bruce that the same Hubie Brown labels a "great call". As a fan, you're left wondering who's the bigger idiot: Hubie, the officials, or me?

aexchange
06-20-2005, 08:07 AM
Originally posted by: Thespiralgoeson

Originally posted by: chumdawg
Man, that Robert Horry is dangerous with the game on the line.

That's another reason to root against the Spurs. I do NOT want Robert Horry to have another championship ring. I think it would be very sad if at the end of his career, Robert Horry has as many championships as Michael Jordan.

i love robert horry. i was a big proponent of bringing him to the mavs 2 years ago as a backup to dirk. he's a great complimentary player and hes got solid basketball IQ.

he's just a fantastic player and all around great guy. i'd much rather have him win rings than some other spares out there. go spurs go.

Misfit Mav
06-20-2005, 03:11 PM
I actually think Robert Horry's combination of skill, mental toughness, and professional attitude is harder to find in the NBA than super-star level talent. Not more valuable, but harder to find.

Thespiralgoeson
06-20-2005, 05:41 PM
I don't disagree in that Horry is great in clutch situations. I just don't want him to have as many rings as Michael Jordan, and there's something I don't like about him having as many rings as Magic Johnson, and more rings than Larry Bird.

MavKikiNYC
06-20-2005, 11:06 PM
THE DAILY FIX
By CARL BIALIK AND JASON FRY

Horry Breaks Detroit's Hearts
With Three-Pointer in Overtime
June 20, 2005 12:11 p.m.

If you're a basketball team in danger of having your heart broken, keep a lookout for Robert Horry. Just ask the Portland Trail Blazers. Or the Sacramento Kings: If it's late and he's out there, time to be afraid. Very afraid.

The San Antonio Spurs veteran scored 21 points late, the last three coming with 5.8 seconds left in overtime, to sink the Detroit Pistons, 96-95. The road win stunned the Pistons, who now trail the series, 3-2, and must win two in San Antonio or go home in defeat.

For those without a serious rooting interest, this was notable as the first game worth discussing at the water cooler the next day: The first four games all went to the home team, with the smallest margin of victory 15 points. The game also saw two surprising breakdowns in fundamentals: The Spurs' Tim Duncan played abysmally at the end, while Mr. Horry's killer shot was set up by the Pistons' Rasheed Wallace, who left him to double-team Manu Ginobili.

"You don't leave him alone," moans Mitch Albom in the Detroit Free Press. "You never leave him alone. But there he was, alone, at his favorite killer spot, the three-point line, Rasheed Wallace had gotten snookered, and by the time Tayshaun Prince went charging toward the killer, like a man trying to save a dog from a speeding bus, it was too late. The killer lined it up. The killer got it in his sights. The killer fired. The killer hit. And that may be that."

In the Washington Post, Michael Wilbon marvels at the player he calls a basketball closer: "Has there been a more specialized player in basketball history than Robert Horry? All he does is hit shots, usually three-pointers, to win games in late May and throughout June. That's it. That's his job. Nobody has ever done it better, either."

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Mr. Horry's heroics did more than save the Spurs -- they might have saved the NBA, too.

"After seven months of silliness, real basketball reared its head here Sunday night," Mr. Ostler writes. "It all started at the Olympics, where the best players the NBA could round up outside the 7-Eleven got embarrassed with a bronze medal. Then you had the Kobe Bryant trial, then the big Pistons-Pacers brawl, then the ongoing Kobe vs. Shaq long-distance hate affair. A Suns vs. Heat Finals could save the whole sorry season, some were thinking, so they were eliminated by the Spurs and the Pistons."

But now things are different, Mr. Ostler writes: "And now the series has started. The old NBA adage is that the Finals don't start until someone wins a game on the road, or the seventh game. Purists tried to defend the first four games as being hard-fought and fundamental, but in each game, the artistry was strictly on one side of the court. Each game was lopsided, overly early, lacking in drama and short on thrilling highlights. Game five had all that."

So what will Game 6 have? Mr. Albom counsels the Pistons faithful as best he can: "Now, there are two ways you can go here. You can see it factually, historically, you can point out how nearly impossible what Detroit needs to do now is. You could look at it that way. Or you could look at it through the prism that the Pistons have constructed: Make life next to impossible, then do the impossible. You can no longer deny the Pistons enjoy high drama. You can no longer deny they deliver in the crunchiest of crunch time. Have they ever had to do something like this? No. But there is a growing list of things they'd never done before, until they did them. If you believe in basketball miracles, now's a good time to ask."

MavKikiNYC
06-20-2005, 11:09 PM
MITCH ALBOM: Spur of the moment pushes Pistons to the brink

June 20, 2005

BY MITCH ALBOM
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

You don't leave him alone. You never leave him alone. But there he was, alone, at his favorite killer spot, the three-point line, Rasheed Wallace had gotten snookered, and by the time Tayshaun Prince went charging toward the killer, like a man trying to save a dog from a speeding bus, it was too late. The killer lined it up. The killer got it in his sights. The killer fired.

The killer hit.

And that may be that. The Pistons were like a classic album in a wonderful groove, and then someone stomped on the ground and the needle jumped. Groove over. Scratch heard. Their streak of home victories in the NBA Finals ended Sunday night in overtime, just after midnight, broken up by a 34-year-old bench player who seems to do this to somebody every year. Game 5 was the Pistons' turn to have their music interrupted by Robert Horry. And as a result, they are heading to San Antonio today looking at the biggest hurdle they have faced yet -- and they have faced an awful lot of them.

Horry-fied.

"I was shooting pretty good," Horry told ABC after the game was over and the Palace was deflated and the Spurs had prevailed in overtime, 96-95, thanks to his three-point miracle, "so I was gonna let it fly."

Let it fly. And let it die. They call him Big Shot Bob and you didn't need anymore evidence than this game to see why. Horry's dagger had blood all over it. He hit one three-pointer. He hit another. He hit a huge slam in overtime and got fouled. He had no points in the first half, three in the third quarter and 18 rest of the way, including five out of six three-pointers. If there is one thing you don't allow to happen against any team with Robert Horry on it, it's giving him the chance to make a big shot. He has been doing it his whole career. He has done it for the Rockets. He has done it for the Lakers. He has done it for the Spurs. Rasheed Wallace committed a space cadet move, doubling the wrong guy, Manu Ginobili, leaving Horry alone. You can't fault one guy for a loss. But you can fault one guy for a play that leads to one.

Horry-fied.

"I guess there was a miscommunication," Pistons coach Larry Brown said, trying to protect Wallace. "You talk all year about the things you want to accomplish ... if everybody gets it, you don't get in that situation. If everybody doesn't ... it ultimately falls on me."

No it doesn't. Brown doesn't wear shorts, and he doesn't play. The Pistons are smart enough to know better. Rasheed is smart enough to know better. The ball went into Ginobili. A two-point basket would have only tied the score. They could live with that. Only one thing was forbidden -- a three-point basket.

And that's what they allowed.

"Actually, I wasn't even thinking about" a three-pointer," Horry said. "It was supposed to be a pick-and-roll with Tim (Duncan) and I saw Rasheed bite and I said, 'Oh, let me stay out here.'

"Since I was shooting well, I wanted to let it fly. I'm the type of player I want to win a game. ... I'm always going to go for a three."

Horry-fied.

No blowout this time

You wanted a tight one? Here was a tight one. You wanted to hear your heart in your chest? Here you go. You wanted an NBA Finals game that didn't show its cards by halftime? How was that? You wanted maybe overtime? Overtime it was. It was traded baskets. It was traded steals. It was traded blocks, traded fouls, traded spots atop the scoreboard. Not to put too much of a clich&eacute; on it, but you did find yourself saying "Who wants it more?" and you came up with a different answer every 24 seconds.

It was Ginobili coming back to life, and Tony Parker exploding in the first half, and Duncan (26 points) playing the part of the android that won't quit (except at the free-throw line and except at the very end, when he tightened up). And it was Chauncey Billups pulling up for jumpers and Antonio McDyess hitting the boards hard and Prince elevating for one-handed floaters that defied natural law.

But in the end it was Horry, with his momentum killing three-pointers, and seven rebounds and some smart playmaking. He pulled a victory out of defeated air. The Pistons should be up, three games to two, today. Instead, the face Herculean task.

"That's Big Shot Bob!" Duncan gushed after the victory. "He does whatever he wants to do."

Well, he seems to when a big game is on the line.

The Pistons know that. They just didn't get him covered. That's what the Pistons do, get people covered. They didn't this time. It's that simple. The irony is that the Spurs last year were knocked from their confidence by a killer shot from Derek Fisher of the Lakers They never recovered and lost their chance at the title.

Will Horry's shot do the same to the Pistons?

Because, remember, for a while there last week, the Pistons were like a lifetime chain smoker who quits to run marathons. He suddenly looks good, looks healthy, but there's this cloud in his past and you never know when it comes back to haunt. Sunday night, the Pistons knew. The two games they had lost in San Antonio still counted, and that cloud, combined with this heartbreaking loss in Game 5, means the marathon that remains is next to impossible, no matter how clear their lungs felt last week.

They have to win two in San Antonio, a place where they haven't won one in a long, long time.

Who believes in miracles?

You do have to tip your blue-and-red wig to the Spurs. After all, they have been in Michigan long enough to run for governor. They lost two games in three days and then they had to wait. The fatigue factor and the self-disgust factor could have combined into a lackluster "let's-just-get-out-of-here" performance.

Instead, the Spurs came out with more intensity Sunday. They kept it close the entire game. They got contributions from Parker and Ginobili early, Duncan in regulation and Horry in overtime. They did what neither team has done so far, won in the road. They have themselves -- and Horry -- to pat on the back.

"Robert was unbelievable," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game was done. "Hitting big shots is who he is. That's what he does."

Don't remind us.

Now, there are two ways you can go here. You can see it factually, historically, you can point out how nearly impossible what Detroit needs to do now is. You could look at it that way.

Or you could look at it through the prism that the Pistons have constructed: Make life next to impossible, then do the impossible. You can no longer deny the Pistons enjoy high drama. You can no longer deny they deliver in the crunchiest of crunch time. Have they ever had to do something like this? No. But there is a growing list of things they'd never done before, until they did them.

Pick your position. Game 6 will be played either way, Tuesday night, in the heat of a Texas June.

"We've still got a lot of fight in us," Ben Wallace said. "This series is not over. We've got to do what they did."

Twice.

I'll tell you this: The best thing they can do is try to forget Sunday night because it will do nothing but haunt them over and over. Horry standing out there, by himself, Rasheed fooled, Tayshaun chasing, and all of it too late, too little, too bad, too sad.

Horry-fied.

If you believe in basketball miracles, now's a good time to ask.