Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

You Know You're Going to Lose a Series When...

[I know I haven't posted much here lately. Maybe (maybe?) I was a tad delusional in thinking I could keep both my baby and the new gig updated on a consistent basis. Plus, there's just been so much to write about in Detroit sports over the past few days that I really didn't know where to begin. As Big Al said, we're really fortunate to enjoy so much in this area. But I still intend to post stuff here 2-3 times a week. I appreciate you continuing to stop by and check for fresh material.]

It wasn't the most important shot in last night's Pistons-Magic playoff game. It didn't decide the outcome, and didn't result in a lead change. But if Orlando had any thoughts about getting back into the game, Rasheed Wallace banking in a shot clock beating, three-point heave with three minutes left had to crush those hopes. Detroit's lead went back up to 10, and the game was essentially over.

As you might imagine, Need4Sheed has video of the shot. It's a beaut. I'm not sure what's better: Keyon Dooling's "Son of a biscuit!" reaction on the bench or 'Sheed's "That's right - I know I'm bad" stone-faced expression as he backpedaled toward the Pistons' end of the court.

Despite the eight-point margin at the time, the Pistons seemed well on their way to winning the game anyway, so 'Sheed's shot was really more of an emphatic smackdown than a game-changing moment. You get the feeling that the only thing keeping these games close is Detroit getting bored (or, frankly, a little bit arrogant).

At virtually every position, The Pistons have a match-up advantage over Orlando. The exception should be at center, where Dwight Howard looks more physically gifted and athletic than either 'Sheed or Chris Webber. Yet Detroit's experience and physical presence (and an upset stomach, apparently) pushed Howard off his game, showing him he has still has a lot to learn. (And this will show how little I've watched the NBA this season, other than Pistons games, but when did Howard stick his 21-year-old head on Karl Malone's body? Dude is pumped.)

It's probably most clear at point guard, where Chauncey Billups can do absolutely anything he wants against Jameer Nelson. Nelson is a tough player who might be quicker than Billups, and can occasionally dart past him to the basket. But in every other area, he (literally) comes up short. Chauncey can see the floor over Nelson, and make any pass he needs to. He's strong to push through any arm, hand, or body check that might be attempted on defense. He can post him up down low, he can shoot over him on the perimeter, and can toss him around like a rag doll when moving without the ball.

At the other end of the floor, it's much the same case. Nelson can't pass around or over Billups. He can't push him out of the way. And Billups also has more than enough experience to know where Nelson might go with the ball. It's one of the more glaring mismatches you might see in a playoff series.

But what else can Brian Hill do? He tried putting Grant Hill on Billups, but that can't last the whole game. Not unless they're okay with Tayshaun Prince scoring 30 points a game. (And Hedo Turkoglu apparently is. That guy sure can shoot, though.) Carlos Arroyo? Yes, Coach Hill, please keep trying that.

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