For whatever reason it seems hard to take a week and a half off from this and write that first entry post-vacation. It's not like it's "work" so it's a little weird. To get back into the swing of things (and to build our readership back up to a staggering three visitors per week) I'll delve into the Pistons-Magic game. And just so you know, the title for this post is a total cop-out for coming up with something creative and in no way is a reflection of something that I would deem humorous. It's just an absurd, off-the-cuff pun that would embarrass even the cheesiest of espn.com headline writers.
Pistons 91-86 Magic
The Orlando Magic have to be the least threatening "good team" that the Pistons could have faced. They are pretty entertaining to watch when they're playing a team they can run out of the building (2nd most made-3's in NBA regular season history), but their three best players all have flaws that can be successfully exposed with Detroit's roster. Dwight Howard is obviously a physically imposing low-post force, but he can't hit free throws and the Pistons have a number of bigs to throw foul after foul at him, and they also did a good job of limiting his offensive opportunities by denying entry passes for extensive stretches at a time. Hedo Turkoglu is a unique case in that, at age 29, he's transformed his game and is just now realizing how versatile he can be, taking the ball to the basket and drawing contact (he shot 2 more FTs more per game this season over his career average), but against Detroit he was prone to giving up soul-crushing turnovers that nearly caused Stan Van Gundy to pull his mustache off in a fit of fury. And Rashard Lewis is a good outside threat, but his lack of size and the fact that he's playing PF instead of his true spot at SF plays right into the Pistons hands. On top of all that, Orlando's biggest problem when facing Detroit is how over-matched they are at the point and shooting guard positions, but even with Chauncey out they couldn't manage more than one win in this series. Game 5 thoughts...
- Chauncey is our best player, and he's "Mr. Big Shot", but Rip has been so consistently good that I have no problem with handing him the ball when we absolutely need points (especially now that Chauncey relies more on drawing fouls than anything late in games). Rip finished with 31 points, went 16-16 from the line and had 4 steals to help fill the void left by our injured point guard. He's also now the franchise's all-time leading playoff scorer.
- The Pistons set an NBA playoff record with only 3 turnovers. Orlando, on the other hand, looked like they were doing everything in their power to give the game away.
- We took care of the ball, but in the early going, other things weren't going so well....it actually looked kind of ugly. There were a lot of missed open shots (Sheed 0-6 on 3's) and we weren't taking advantage of a whole lot of those Magic mistakes.
- Offensive rebounds were hurting Orlando at key moments of this game. Dice had 6 of them and Theo grabbed 3 in only 4 minutes.
- Rodney Stuckey had 15 points, 6 assists and above all -- no turnovers. It's remarkable that a rookie can step in for our all-star point guard in a playoff game and not turn the ball over even once.
- 6th consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. And even more amazing, the second straight year that we've had both the Wings and the Pistons in the semis. Regardless of the outcomes, Detroit fans have been relatively spoiled when compared to other sports cities.
- Flip Saunders had a good series. He exploited matchup problems and made adjustments all series long, and managed to make Dwight Howard a non-factor for nearly the duration.
- It was convenient how things worked out for me watching this series. Part of my Florida vacation included my girlfriend and I visiting her Uncle, who happens to be a huge Magic fan. I'll give him credit too -- he's not a bandwagon Floridian fan, he's a die-hard, former season ticket holder. So it was fun watching a few games with him as we cheered on our respective teams.
- Speaking of Florida, I have a sports-related story: We were walking toward the line for clearing our carry-on bags, and saw that the line was incredibly long. We had some time to waste, so we decided to sit down on a bench for like 10 minutes to see if the line would go down a bit. As soon as we sat down, though, I noticed a familiar looking man heading for the back of the line. After a short few seconds I realized that it was, indeed, ESPN's Ric Bucher. He had done the sideline reporting for the Pistons-Magic game just the night before. So we got up off the bench and rushed to get behind him, to, well, I don't really know what the purpose of this was -- it's not like I was going to talk to him or anything. But these are the kinds of things that happen when you've seen like 4 famous people in your life. Anyway, we were kind of just standing and smiling, and of course, looking in wonderment of his perfectly slicked back blond hair (yes, it looks as gelled-up at 6 in the morning as it does on national television), and to be funny I leaned in to about one foot from his back and sniffed him (I swear to god it was funny in person -- it looks really gay in print but I'm in a goofy mood and I'm keeping it in here.) So to capture the moment, I snapped a picture of him with my cellphone. And now, I have a terrific picture of Ric Bucher's back.
Red Wings vs Stars in just under an hour. Fucking ecstatic.