“We are all witnesses”….how often has the phrase been stated and overstated over the course of these NBA playoffs? And now, once again, we are witness, but not to LBJ (as great as he is), but rather to the incompetence that is the Detroit Pistons. Over the last two years, the Pistons pulled a Mark Cuban and made everybody in the Eastern Conference their bucket boys. I mean, the Pistons are the one team in the NBA (and the Spurs) that we as fans have come to rely on the last few years. They have been one of the few constants in the NBA. They normally ride through the streets of the Eastern Conference with one hand on the wheel, beat banging and emanating through the speakers and car doors, and the top down just crusing along. Nobody bothers them, they just ride. That is, until LBJ showed up with his boys and announced to the world that he is no novelty superstar, that the time is not tomorrow and it sure as hell wasn’t yesterday, but that it is NOW. Now, the Pistons are in a dogfight with none other than the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers? The team that barely squeaked a series victory out against the “defense, what’s that?” Washington Wizards? Everyone thought before this series began that the Cavaliers would be lucky, if not hard pressed, to even win one game, and it would be a miracle if they won two. Yet here I am writing on the aftermath of a colossal victory by the Cavaliers to take a 3-2 lead in the series, a victory in which they defeated and demoralized the Pistons on their home floor. The same home arena that the Pistons had only lost 4 regular season games in, that’s right, count it, 4 games!
Rewind to last night’s game and you see bad decisions, worse shots, and some of the worst and most lethargic defense that I have seen out of the Pistons the entire year. Everything that I have come to depends on from these Pistons (and no, I’m not a Pistons fan), seems to have discombobulated in the course of last night’s defeat. We as fans have become as complacent as the Pistons have. We think that they will turn it on, whether it be in the 1st or 4th quarter, and the Pistons think the exact same thing, forgetting that the Cavaliers are hungry and are led by the soon-to-be best player in the world. The Cavaliers are playing more like Detroit than Detroit is. You have Varejao playing the role of Ben Wallace (from the long, wild hair to the rugged way he throws himself around on the floor), you have Drew Gooden playing the role of Rasheed, getting big rebounds and making big shots, and then you have Eric Snow calmly running the offense like Chauncey. And of course, you have LeBron, as incomparable as he is, playing the role of Rip Hamilton, seemingly able to score whenever he wants and so smoothly and efficiently. Detroit has done a good job on LBJ this series, but he has been able to will his team to 3 victories.
Defensively, are the Cavs that good or are the Pistons just playing that bad? Do the Cavs want it more than the Pistons? Seems like it right now. What happened to the Guaransheed? He went from saying that the series wouldn’t return to the Q, to saying that they would still win the series, to now fighting for their playoff existence in the Q in a can’t-be-put-into-words-how-big-it-is game 6. Are the Cavs now the favorites in the series? If they can dethrone the Eastern Conference champs, shouldn’t they be able to beat Miami or the winner of the west? Isn’t the better team supposed to win in a seven game series? Are the Cavs the better team? You gotta be kidding, the Cavs are in NO WAY the better team, but then how can they possibly do the unthinkable, send the pistons home to sleep with the fishes?
I don’t want to take anything away from the Cavs (although it seems like I’ve given them zero credit for outplaying the defending Eastern Conference Champs), but there is no way that the Cavs should be leading this series, no way. The Pistons are by far the better team defensively and offensively, at least on paper and by what they have done through the course of the year and in the 1st round of the playoffs. But it seems like the pistons have stopped trying or have just lost focus. They are playing like rookies, missing big shots, not capitalizing on mistakes, and not being able to play efficiently and effectively. They are the team turning the ball over in critical moments, they are the team that can’t stop the other team from scoring in crucial moments, and they are the team that have gotten about 5 cases of ass-whooping signed, sealed, and delivered to their doorstep courtesy of the King and his henchmen. This series is by no means finished, but how could the Pistons have let it get to this? How? I mean, the NBA playoffs have been amazing so far and they have provided some surprises, but the Cavs-Pistons series supercedes common sense and transcends rationale and reason. Most people still believe that the Pistons are still the favorites to win this series, even though they are down. I’m not so sure now if that’s the case. They have given me litte justification over the last three games to substantiate their claim to be a representative in the Eastern Conference Finals. Can the Cavs do it? Can they finish what they started, put the finishing touches on a dazzling series? Will we be “witnesses” to the unthinkable?