Posted: Thursday May 5, 2005 12:28PM; Updated: Thursday May 5, 2005 5:34PM
An unhealthy Tim Duncan could be the Spurs' downfall in the second round.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
As of Wednesday night, five NBA teams have moved on to the second round, with Dallas and Indiana trying to join them on Thursday. That's five cities -- San Antonio, Detroit, Phoenix, Miami and Seattle -- where hope still springs eternal.
As a public service, I'm here to throw water on all their chances.
For this week's five-pack, here are the fatal weaknesses of the second-rounders, allowing for the fact, of course, that I've already selected the Spurs to beat the Pistons in the Finals. I mean, somebody has to win. But in this most wide-open of seasons, let's pretend that's not the case.
Why the San Antonio Spurs cannot win
Yes, the Spurs have two championship banners in the SBC Center but both were claimed with David Robinson anchoring the middle. Here are his replacements: Nazr Mohammad, who just a couple months ago was a Knick, and Rasho Nesterovic, who almost never gets to the foul line and doesn't convert when he does. Tim Duncan is still working his way back after an ankle injury. Point guard Tony Parker has traditionally been up-and-down in the playoffs. Bruce Bowen will so irritate an opponent with his in-your-face defense that somebody will pop him and put him out of commission. Manu Ginobili, nicknamed El Contusion by teammate Brent Barry, will injure himself on his way to the arena by trying to run through, rather than open, a door.
Why the Detroit Pistons cannot win
Yes, the Pistons have the same starting five they did last season when they won the title. But they will miss the contributions of three departed bench players -- Corliss Williamson, Mike James, Mehmet Okur and Elden Campbell. Rasheed Wallace -- who has been playing well but also has shown signs of the old Rasheed -- will get so steamed at a foul call that he will spontaneously combust at a key moment. Larry Brown will be distracted by possible offers to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Knicks, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NATO Joint Forces All-Stars. Richard Hamilton's overused mask will disintegrate as he goes up for a jumper. Backup guard Carlos Arroyo will get furious when backup-backup-backup center Darko Milicic continues to command all of the backup feature stories.