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11:41 PM ET, 4/29/06
These weren't the real Pistons
Posted by Kelly Dwyer
For most visiting teams, this was to be expected. For Detroit, this was just strange.
The Pistons had to take note of Chicago's dominance over the Heat on Thursday night, and though Flip Saunders' bunch had made mincemeat out of the Bucks in the first two games of their series (as opposed to Chicago's relatively encouraging showings), they had to go into Game 3 knowing that the Bucks would be ready to take their stand. And even if the Pistons don't get TNT (the horror!), they had to be ready for one of the most obvious storylines in sports: Desperate Home Team Plays Exceedingly Well.
Without naming (everyone's) names, let's just say the Pistons didn't showcase their typical amounts of hard work and determined play. They saw loose balls on the floor, but didn't hit the floor for them. They saw shooters open on the baseline, but they couldn't be bothered to run out and contest their shots. They saw Tony Delk get beat off the dribble, but decided to stay at home on their man. They noticed the double team coming, but decided to shoot over it anyway. Their loss in Game 3 was an exercise in egoism (in the brain) and lethargy (those leaden feet), Detroit wanted to know if it could beat the Bucks at home while showcasing the minimum amount of effort -- and their answer was a 20-point loss.
Though Detroit was more involved in its "loss" than Milwaukee was its "win," the Bucks still came through with an inspired performance. T.J. Ford was allowed to run all over on offense without having to pick up his dribble, taking advantage of a step-slow Detroit defense by finding his teammates for 15 assists (with just one turnover) in 30 minutes. Nice. Michael Redd never stopped moving, and played like he had during the regular season: a lefty version of Rip Hamilton, with 3-point range. Forty points on 14-for-21 shooting in 34 minutes for Redd, who hit all eight of his free throws and missed just one 3-pointer in five attempts. Also, zero turnovers for a man who took up about a third of Milwaukee's overall possessions.
Veteran bigs Joe Smith and Toni Kukoc drove the vaunted Piston frontcourt batty. Smith managed 13 points (on 4-for-5 shooting) and seven boards in just 21 minutes, while the Kukroacian Rhapsody dashed all over -- adding 10 points (on just four shots) and six assists in the same amount of time. Maurice Williams had 20 points on 10 shots, in just 17 minutes. Against the Pistons? It was that kind of night.
And yet, without acting like too much of a wet blanket, let's just note that we hope Milwaukee fans have this one on tape. Game 4 is on Monday.
This game was somewhat surreal to me. It seems like everytime some announcer mentions a stat like "the Pistons are 0-4 when up 2-0 in a series and away for game three", the trend continues. Everyone knows that this series should have ended in 4 games, but the Bucks playes the desperation card and the Pistons got complacent. This series will end in Detroit, but not in game 7. I'm pretty sure that we will see the Pistons that started the season 8-0 and swept the defending champs this season. For the defending Eastern Conference Champion team to lose by 20 and still put up 104 points in the PLAYOFFS, we all know something isnt right. Game four: Pistons 96 Bucks 73.
Detroit's defense has been poor at times this season, and this was no exception. Yes, they can shut anyone down when they really need to, but every so often they'll allow some average team to light them up.
Sure, Redd scored the points, but this post-game story should not be all about him. Even midway through the second Q, the Bucks were playing solid but hardly inspired basketball, and Rasheed Wallace was unstoppable on offense. You felt the Pistons would simply flex their defensive authority, sooner or later, and that would be it; 3-nil.
However, it was the play of the Bucks' bench - Williams, Kukoc and Smith - that made the difference. Both teams played for large portions of the second quarter with their reserves, and Detroit had Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton on the pine together.
When they came back, with 4 minutes to play in the half, Kukoc and Williams had gotten not only the lead, but, more importantly, the crowd into the game.
From then, the Bucks' stunning start to the 3rd quarter settled the contest. Redd was hitting shots, Ford was pushing the ball, and Jamaal Magloire was active around the glass. All things that haven't happened so far this series.
Detroit's effort and intensity were down, sure. They forced just 2 turnovers in the first half. And they made some silly fouls.
You know that they know these things are all fixable. And quickly so. But now the Bucks are aware that Detroit is human, look for a sensational game 4, and 5, of this series.
There's no given in this league. If the Pistons don't show up then they'll make this a harder series than it needs to be. The larger issue is that the championship is there's for the taking if they can stay focused.
OK. maybe throw is too strong. Maybe they just didn't really want to win this one as bad. Maybe Rip and Tay "had a bad game" and "Flip rested Ben too much". ravens199 mentioned above that "the Pistons are 0-4 when up 2-0 in a series and away for game three". Sounds like a pattern. Get two wins under your belt, lay back and rest a little for game three, if the opposition wins one at home oh well we can win it at home and the boss get's a few million more on the bottom line.
Don't tell me that it's not part of the plan.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to get down on the Pistons. I am a big fan. Any team in their position would probably do the same. I'm just saying that this is all part of "The Big Game".
who ever the person that really thinks detroit will lose this series is a fool! Besides game three you must have never watched a game of basketball in your life. the pistons are taking them down in five. and if anyone else thinks the pistons will lose your trash just like this clown
Pistons lay an egg every so often. Its obvious they played sub-par. Now they need to wrap this up so Rip can sit. Flip is too insecure to sit Rip and Rip won't sit unless they're winning by alot or the series is over. Chauncey needs to re-focus on distributing the ball first. This series is over just not officially.
The pistons won't lose this series but giving up 124 points to milwaukee does not bode well for detroit. You simply cannot give away games in the playoffs. A veteran team that has so many solid players should come into a game with more focus and intensity. I expect the pistons to win in 5 games, but they could lose another if they keep looking foward toward the finals.
its obvious the pistons didnt play there best basketball, but milwaukee did something that few teams do: tested Detroits big men.
By taking it to the paint, the bucks were able to draw fouls on detroits over aggressive defenders. obviously this accomplishes two things. First, it forces Detroit to cover the inside shooters, leaving the likes of redd and williams open for the outside shots. Second, it has the potential to put players like rasheed wallace into foul trouble.
they may not have figured out detroit as some would say, but they certainly went deep into exploiting one of their few weaknesses
yo dude, you guys in the 'media' aren't as astute as you're paid to be...the Pistons NEVER sweep first round series. IN fact, these Pistons never sweep ANY series. That is what empowers them: especially coming back from deficits. I remember two years ago, second round, and they gave away home court advantage to the Nets, down 3-2 and then came back to take it - and eventually the Finals.
Pistons just aren't like other teams. The almost HAVE to lose to win.