On April 14th of this year, on this very Website, I made a stunning prediction: The NBA Finals would feature the Detroit Pistons vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. The passage of time has proven me correct.
On May 20th of this year, I predicted the Pistons would defeat Indiana in six games. And that is precisely what happened. I also predicted that LA would knock off Minnesota with ease. This occurred as well (although I was off by one in guessing the number of games it would take).
I took some heat for these bold predictions. For example, Bob A. Booey had this to say:
This site is evidence that geeks shouldn’t opine on sports.
Your picks are off:
Detroit-Indiana’s going 7. Indiana’s too good and too tough and the Pistons have shown they’re not as dominant as we thought going into the playoffs. The Nets gave them all they wanted and more.
The Lakers in 5? That’s laughable. The Wolves took the Lakers to the maximum in the first round last year and every damn game was close. Every game this year will be a war and Minnesota’s the NBA’s last best chance to beat the Lakers. No one can match up with KG and Cassell will torch Payton. I pick Lakers in 7, with another controversial series and a memorable, close Game 7 where the Lakers prevail in Minnesota.
It turns out I was about 95% right, and just about everyone else was wrong. (And I must admit, it feels nice…)
So, on to my analysis of the NBA FINALS:
Los Angeles has the home-court advantage. The series will be in the 2-3-2 format, meaning games 1,2,6, and 7 are set for LA, while games 3,4, and 5 are set for Motown.
I believe this gives Detroit an advantage of sorts. If they steal one of the first two games in LA, they can close the series out by winning their games at home and without ever having to go back to the STAPLES Center.
(Also, it is worth noting that Detroit has played very well on the road during the playoffs. They are 5-3 on the road, compared to 7-3 at home. So, I don’t expect LA’s home-court advantage to be much of an advantage at all.)
The Lakers have a fearsome lineup of stars. Starters: CENTER – Shaquille O’Neal; Forwards – Karl Malone and Devean George; Guards – Kobe Bryant and Gary Payton. They also have some notables from their bench: Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Stanislav Medvedenko, and Kareem Rush. And, of course, they are coached by the legendary basketball guru Phil Jackson.
The Pistons are no slouches either. Starters: CENTER – Ben Wallace; Forwards – Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace; Guards – Richard “Rip” Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. The bench also has some players who get their share of minutes: Mehmet Okur, Corliss Williamson (who I think is terrible and should never be allowed within five parsecs of a basketball court again in his life), Mike James, and Lindsey Hunter. They are coached by the well-traveled Larry Brown.
The advantage here, at all levels, is with the Lakers. They are more talented (it seems half their team, and their coach, are future Hall-Of-Famers). They have more depth. They have more experience at this level.
But the Pistons play a kind of defense this league hasn’t seen since the original Bad Boys of roughly 15 years ago. Kobe will have a hard time getting away from Rip. Shaq will be pestered and swatted at by the long arms of Wallace, Wallace, and Prince. Ditto for Malone. Payton seems to be the key for the Lakers, as he is clearly better at the point than Detroit’s Billups. And the Lakers’ bench can actually score, which is something the Pistons’ bench (with the exception of Okur) has had difficulty doing of late.
So, after having gone through all that, my head is telling me Lakers in five. But Detroit is my team, and always has been, so my heart is telling me Detroit in seven.
So I’ll go with my heart.
I believe Detroit will steal one in LA, and then win two out of three at home. Up 3-2, they will lose game six and pull out a victory-for-the-ages in game seven.
You may now commence snickering…Powered by Sidelines