I was so excited to watch the two TNT games on tv tonight and that feeling quickly turned to disappointment in the third quarter of both games. The Pistons and Suns have been struggling to win against good teams on a consistent basis since they have obtained their hall of fame players. Let’s start with Allen Iverson and the Pistons because Shaq in Phoenix is not as recent. Iverson left Denver without demanding a trade and actually it seemed like he and Chauncey Billups were both genuinely surprised that they were traded. Neither the Pistons nor the Nuggets really had struggled to do well in the regular season; however both teams have had their troubles in the playoffs in recent years. The Nuggets have yet to taste the second round of playoffs in Melo era and the Pistons after win the title in 2004 and trip to the finals in 2005 have not made it past the Eastern conference finals since then. Did this trade really make either team that much better? I would say the Nuggets are doing well but they have only beat one playoff team since Billups has been on their team.
The team the nuggets beat in Boston was the same team the Pistons lost to tonight. The Pistons showed their weaknesses tonight and Celtics showed why they are the best team in the league. AI just doesn’t fit into Detroit system, his teammates are trying to learn how to play with but only Rasheed can mesh with AI. I’m not going to say that Rip or Tayshaun Prince are not good basketball players but they don’t mix well with a scorer. They know how to work the shoot clock down to 8 seconds or less and pass the ball to the open man. A great scenario which works for college ball but it only worked for one season in 2004. I also have to put an asterisk on that 2004 championship win against the Lakers because Kobe and Shaq were too busy arguing to make it a competitive series. The Lakers hand wrapped that series in gold paper and gave it to the Pistons. Who knows maybe Detroit would have won it without Kobe and Shaq bickering but that finals was a disappoint to any NBA fan out there.
Back to action of the night, the Pistons tried to out execute a team that has its stuff together, a team that can play both offense and defense at a high level. The Celtics didn’t dominate one quarter they just increased the lead in the 2nd and 3rd to make the game unreachable for the Pistons in the fourth quarter. The Celtics have the one thing the Pistons have never had, that being 4 players that can hit three’s consistently. Any team that can shoot the 3 at a high percentage as a whole team will make it far in the playoffs. It stretches out the defense, opens the passing lines and it will create easy baskets by getting the defender to overplay you.
The second game of the night was equally dissatisfying because this was game I was looking forward to seeing. Two teams that can run and gun but can also play well in the post as well. The Lakers had a bit of an advantage over the Suns at halftime and it made me think that they second half would be just as close. I was wrong, the Lakers hit their shots and the Suns didn’t. The Suns look confused like they have all season because they really don’t know what to do. Nash has struggled the most because he needs to run to be a effective and Terry has a tight leash on him. The part of this game that disappointed me the most was when Terry Porter put his bench in with 3 minutes left and the lead was only 12 points. Seriously is a 12 point deficit that hard to come back from when you have a team stacked with 3 point shooters. The old run and gun Suns would have made this a ball game or at least they would have went down shooting. Terry Porter has taken away a part of the Suns which made them effective and has made Shaq the focus point, even thought he is no longer a dominant player. Terry Porter let the Suns run for 3 quarters, and then they can play Spurs basketball in 4th. Watching a team loose games they could have won is painful.