But I'm Le Tired
Jinx or no jinx, this has to be written about. The Pistons have been sucking some serious goat balls recently.
I flat out don't understand it. After playing like they can in games 1 and 2 of the Cleveland series, they have gone into an offensive shell, and don't look like they're coming out anytime soon.
Last night, they were given the HUGE gift of both D-Wade and Shaq getting into foul trouble. Wade didn't play most of the second or third quarters because of fouls, and only played 27 minutes total. Shaq also saw limited time as he racked up early fouls.
The Pistons that I'm used to seeing, that I've lived and died with for the last 3 years, would have smelled the blood in the water and gone for the jugular. When Wade picked up his 4th foul early in the third, I thought it was over. I expected a big run out of the Stones, scoring almost every trip down the floor, and completely clamping down on the defensive end.
What happened? They got lit up by Gary Payton. Ugh.
I can't quite place my finger on it, but something is definitely wrong. It's not a lack of effort or intensity, as they have plenty of both. It's not a lack of motivation, because they lost in game 7 last year, and Sheed definitely wants his WWF Championship belt back (he's sick of only having the Intercontinental belt). It's not poor defense, because they seem to be hustling and helping out pretty well.
There are three things I have noticed that I think are problems:
1) Almost a complete lack of a sense of urgency. By this, I mean that the Pistons seem complacent to walk the ball up the floor EVERY FUCKING TIME. When Detroit runs, they're tough. When they force a bad shot from the other team, grab the rebound, and push it, they can usually make a couple swing passes and find somebody wide open. For some reason, 6 games ago they stopped doing this. They don't get into the transition offense at all, and their half court offense has been pretty weak.
2) Call timeouts at appropriate times. My goodness, I've seen shades of Larry Brown in this series. I still remember last year in the NBA Finals against the Spurs, there were two seperate games (I'm positive one was game 7, I think the other was game 5... although I could be wrong) where you could feel the momentum shifting from the Pistons to the Spurs. They had hit a couple of shots, we were giving away dumb turnovers or making bad shots, and the crowd was getting into it. I was sitting at home, calmly saying (interpret: screaming as loud as I can) "Call a timeout!". Well, hotshot LB refused to call a timeout, and both times the Spurs went on a 10-0 or 12-0 run. Both games were decided by less than that.
Last night, I could feel the same thing happening. The Pistons were up 5, and they gave up an easy hoop to the Heat. It was in the third quarter, and The Diesel and Dwyane were both on the bench. The Pistons had been playing lazy, and seemed uninterested. I said, "please Flip, call a timeout, and remind your players that they should be CRUSHING the heat right now."
What happens? The Pistons take a poor shot, the Heat gain possession and find Antoine Walker (who used to be a woman) who drains an open 3. Next possession, we give the ball to Lindsay Hunter (abort!), who promptly turns it over, and the Heat push it again, this time to James Posey, who hits a 3. A 5 point lead quickly turns to a 3 point deficit, and the Heat never looked back.
I'm sitting in Boulder, Colorado, over 1,300 miles away from The Palace in Auburn Hills, and I could tell things were about to go badly. Why can't Flip, or any of his players for that matter, sense the same thing? Just call a timeout, gather the Throops, remind them to play smart offense and good defense, and none of that happens.
3) Can somebody please explain to me why we don't run Richard Hamilton a curl route of a double-screen for a 10-18 foot jumper? I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this play works 100% of the time... and the Pistons have completely stopped doing this.
Rip is the best medium range jump shooter in the history of the game. You all know the play that I'm talking about... he starts in one corner, comes off two screens set by Ben and Boogeyman Wallace, catches the ball, and shoots. Cash. Or, he can pump fake and drive. Or, he can elevate and screen and roll with either of them.
This play is SO effective, and the Pistons used to do it so well. I haven't seen it done in the playoffs once this year. Is there a reason we stopped doing this? Can somebody please explain it to me?
I might just be a sour Pistons fan, mad because we lost game 1 on our home court. But it seems so easy to fix some of the small stuff, and so easy to get the Pistons back on track like they know how to play. When they play smart on both ends of the floor, and play with a sense of urgency, they're UNSTOPPABLE. I just wish Flip and Co. would find a way to get them to play like that again.
(And if the Jinx God's are still reading our website, I'd like to officially say "Go Heat! Dwyane Wade is unstoppable and won't get hurt! Gary Payton will continue to play like he's 25 years old! Nobody can stop Shaq! The Heat should kill Detroit in game 2! Go Heat!!!)