Friday, May 26, 2006

Tied Headed to South Beach

It’s amazing to watch people in the media flip-flop from game to game. It brings back happy memories of the 2004 NBA Finals where at the start of the series it was “Lakers in 4, Pistons can’t score” and by the end of game 4, Screamin’ A Smith was saying “I ALREADY BOUGHT MY TICKET BACK TO PHILADELPHIA BECAUSE THIS SERIES IS OVER IN GAME FIVE”.

One bad shooting night from all four of the Pistons top-scorers, and suddenly we went from the majority of ESPN’s experts saying Pistons in 5 (!!) or 6 to “They could get blown out of this series”. Let’s just calm down a tick shall we? In game one, the Pistons had a very uncharacteristically bad shooting performance. But the difference between Game One, and some of the games in the Cleveland series was that in Game One, they were getting GREAT looks, they just weren’t knocking the shots down. And despite the fact that Wade was in foul trouble, which everyone wanted to bring up as a sign that Detroit was even more doomed in the future, the guy didn’t miss! Neither did the Miami role players. It wasn’t going to keep up. Gary Payton shooting 75%? C’mon.

Then we get to last night. Hamilton has an outstanding first half, Prince has a great game, Billups wakes up in the second half, Ben Wallace gets his dunks, Sheed’s knocking down threes, Walker starts clanging 6+ three pointers a game again, James Posey got the Flip Murray award until the fourth quarter, and suddenly, the Pistons look like they could win the title again.

To me, fans of both teams have to be feeling pretty good about their chances at this point. Both teams got a win in a game that they pretty much dominated, both teams can take solace in working hard in a valiant comeback in a game they lost (and a game where the score was probably closer than it should’ve been) and point to poor shooting as a reason for the defeat.

Make no mistake, Detroit outplayed Miami last night worse than they themselves got outplayed in Game 1. Miami made that game close thanks to some absolutely horrendous officiating down the stretch, and of course the fact that Jim Hermann’s prevent defense made an appearance on the basketball court. If they call a jump-ball instead of fouling Sheed out, and if there’s a foul on the in-bounds pass (or even if Bavetta awards the timeout that Prince clearly called) the Pistons win going-away last night. That was the type of officiating only Dick Bavetta can provide.

Just gotta get a split at worse in Miami and we’re fine.

Quick thoughts on the Indy 500 this weekend:

-Hard to go against Helio Castroneves in this one. He’s won a pair of em, he’s got a great car, and he’s a lot less likely to stuff his car into the wall than Hornish is.

-Of the Andretti-Green cars, I like Kanaan and Herta (shocker there). Marco’s got a good car, but he’s a rookie and he’ll probably do something dumb, since it’s his first 500 mile race. Franchitti’s been slow for most of the month, and he’s not as good at taking care of equipment as Kanaan and Herta, and it wouldn’t be Indy without hearing “Andretti is slowing down on the backstretch!” with regard to Michael. Herta hasn’t been fast, but this is his best starting position ever in the 500 and in his previous starts he’s been 9th, 4th, and 3rd. He’s good at staying out of trouble. Kanaan has been faster, albeit not as quick as the Penske or Ganassi cars, and he too takes care of equipment. He’ll probably be right there at the end.

-Danica won’t win. I think Yahoo had it right today when they referred to her as the Anna Kournikova of racing.

-Wild ass guess at the top five: 1. Castroneves, 2. Wheldon, 3. Kanaan, 4. Dixon, 5. Herta

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