Today on Blogcritics
Home » THE NBA FINALS

THE NBA FINALS

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

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

About RJ

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Finally, the NBA season is starting! Time to tune in….

    I haven’t watched a game all year, not a single game. And that’s not like me. Over the past ten years or so, I’ve mostly paid attention in the playoffs. This year, I’ve waited until the finals. And I’m not even sure I’ll get a chance to watch any of those games.

    8-(

  • http://transitionary.com Joey

    I’m from detroit, and watch them pretty well, i like your analysis, and hope for the same results =)

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    No. Just no.

    I appreciate your Christian hope, but I don’t think you’re thinking with your head. Rip Hamilton is a good defender, but not great by any means. He can’t contain Kobe. I would have liked to see the Pacers in the finals if only to see what Artest could do with Kobe.

    Larry Brown MUST have Ben Wallace guard Shaq the whole series to have a chance. Tayshaun Prince MUST score and post up to take advantage of the matchup problems he creates. Chauncey Billups MUST punish Gary Payton off the dribble and open up easy shots for the big men. Rasheed Wallace MUST take Karl Malone outside on the perimeter and help rebound to neutralize Shaq’s size.

    All of these things must happen and the Pistons have to play almost perfect basketball to have a real chance at the series, especially winning in LA. The Lakers are dominant at the Staples Center so far during the playoffs.

    Thanks for quoting me in your post. Keep in mind I was right about the Lakers-Wolves series EVEN WITH Cassell virtually useless and not playing the last 2-3 games.

    Don’t gloat about the Lakers-Pistons finals. MOST NBA followers predicted that series once we knew what the conference finals would be.

    I give you credit for making an actual BOLD prediction this time, but you’ll be wrong. I hope you’re right, but the Lakers are the superior team. The biggest problem for the Pistons will be their lack of a proven go-to guy in the stretch. Rip Hamilton’s a very good NBA player, but he won’t be able to do what he did against Reggie Miller with Kobe shadowing him the whole series and Phil Jackson scheming specifically to stop him.

    That is all.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Like I said, the smart money is on the Lakers.

    Still…

    I think you underestimate Rip’s defensive skills. He matches Kobe about evenly in height, and can play 42 minutes of balls-to-the-wall-basketball without breaking a sweat. Clearly, the advantage in this matchup is with the Lakers, but not by as much as you think (IMO)…

    I agree that Prince must be a major offensive factor in this series if the Pistons are to have any hope of victory. He hasn’t really dominated a playoff game since last season vs. the 76ers. It’s about time for him to step up (and the matchup he has in this series affords him the perfect opportunity to do so)…

    Payton will run circles around Billups. So, I’ll just pray for an injury. Or a sniper. (JUST KIDDING!)

    Ben Wallace is possibly the strongest man in the NBA. He benches over 400 pounds, plays his heart out every second he’s on the court, and considers anything less than 15 boards to be an off-night. Unfortunately, Shaq has about half a foot on the guy. That’s why I believe you may see some zone defense called by Larry Brown (like he did against the Pacers). Also, double-teaming Shaq with either both Wallaces or Big Ben and Prince might help. We’ll see…

    So, BAB, what is your prediction for this series? Lakers in 5? 6? 4???

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    I think I said this already on your other post, but Lakers in 5, maybe 6 if Brown can pull some more coaching mojo than he did the last time he faced the Lakers in the playoffs. That Sixers team, by the way, was superior to this Pistons team in most respects (perhaps not as deep). But that Lakers team was also superior to this older Lakers team. My bet’s likely on 5 games, though. It really depends on how motivated the Lakers are to get that last ring as a unit.

    Payton is old, slow, lost in the offense, and no longer a good defender. Billups can take him off the dribble. He’s a streaky outside shooter so he should penetrate and create easy shots in the lane for the Wallaces and Prince or kick out to Rip for open shots. If he can’t penetrate, the offense should run through Rasheed Wallace first and then try and create open shots for Rip Hamilton off of screens and picks.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    “I think I said this already on your other post, but Lakers in 5, maybe 6 if Brown can pull some more coaching mojo than he did the last time he faced the Lakers in the playoffs. That Sixers team, by the way, was superior to this Pistons team in most respects (perhaps not as deep).”

    I strongly disagree with this. Who did the 76ers have, of any real value, besides Iverson?

    Snow? Mckie? Freakin’ MUTUMBO? Gimme a break…

    “But that Lakers team was also superior to this older Lakers team.”

    I agree here.

    “Payton is old, slow, lost in the offense, and no longer a good defender.”

    Payton’s old, but he’s hungry for a ring. Just like Malone.

    USA Today picks the Lakers in 6. You pick ‘em in 5 or 6. If I was not a Pistons fan, I would agree with 6. But I am a Pistons fan. So…Detroit in 7. ;-)

    Any other basketball fans want to offer their opinions/predictions before this series gets underway?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Is Tonya Harding still a free woman? Maybe she can take a stick to Shaq’s knee or something. I can’t stand the idea of another Laker’s championship.

    Go Pistons.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    BHW:

    LOL!

    Shaq can be contained, if double-teamed. No need to break his knee-caps… ;-)

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Actually, I think Shaq’s achilles heel(s) are his toes. He’s a big wussie when he has a toe boo-boo. Maybe Tonya can just accidentally step on his feet with her skates.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Heh.

    I may be way off base here, but in this series I don’t expect the X-Factor to be Shaq’s offense or Kobe’s last-minute heroics.

    I think it’s all on which Piston (if any) can perform on the offensive end.

    If Prince or Rasheed explodes for 20 points a game, the Pistons have a better-than-even chance of winning it all, IMO. If Ben Wallace can get a bunch of offensive rebounds and make 5-foot follow-up shots (and make some free throws when fouled), the Pistons are doing just fine.

    If Billups can hit those threes, and if Rip can live up to those press releases, Detroit will be okay.

    If Williamson and Okur can come off the bench and do something other than give the starters a breather, it’s all good.

    My two cents…

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    The Pistons whipped the Lakers tonight. Now they have home-court advantage.

    Billups was much better than Payton (which surprised me). Hamilton, however, looked like shit (which also surprised me).

    The Lakers can’t win if they only have two guys of any value out on the floor (Shaq and Kobe). Someone else is gonna have to step up. Perhaps Rush or Fox? We’ll see…

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    I loved every minute of it. I predicted Billups would be better than Payton and that Kobe would limit Hamilton, but I didn’t think the Lakers would be so bad on offense. Fox has been out too long this season and isn’t playing enough minutes to be a major contributor to this series.

    Mutombo was still a great, great defender during that Finals series, even if Shaq did dominate the one-one-one matchup. He was still rebounding like a monster and blocking shots like one as well as Ben Wallace today, but with more offense. Iverson simply was at his prime, the MVP and virtually unstoppable offensively. He was also averaging almost 3 steals a game that year and lightning-quick without the injury or fear of going to the basket. He’s the main reason that Sixers team would beat this Pistons team — the Pistons don’t have an incomparable superstar the likes of Iverson then. The Sixers also had very good role players in their prime and solid starters like Snow and McKie who were excellent defenders and reliable secondary scorers. Rasheed Wallace makes it a close comparison, but Iverson’s ability at that point gives that Sixers team the edge. They were equally tough on defense and a better scoring team without the long shooting droughts the Pistons suffer.

    While I rejoice the result of tonight’s game, I worry that this will be like that Sixers series where LA lost the first game at home and got a wake-up call. I do think the Pistons can pull ouut at least one more game even if the Lakers are seeing red.

    You listed a lot of “ifs,” RJ. Perhaps too many when you have something like this among them:

    “I think it’s all on which Piston (if any) can perform on the offensive end.”

    I don’t think this game changes my prediction, other than to say that it’s now much more likely to be a 6 or possibly even a 7 game series (as the great NBA columnist Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune picked today). I say Lakers in 6, but let’s hope the Pistons’ D can produce similar results to tonight.

    That is all.

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    This could be a very good series.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    It is really hard to enjoy the defensive battles that the Pistons get involved in. Very fundamentally sound basketball, to be sure, but for a guy like me with no interest in either team, it just isn’t entertaining basketball in my opinion.

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    When the Lakers are on, no team has a prayer of beating them, the problem is so many egos and too much skill that the teamwork is lost sometimes with them.

    I wonder if they lose if this will be Phil’s last year.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Yes, TDavid. It would be.

    But it’s very possible it’ll be his last year even if he wins. And the Lakers will have to make a decision on Kobe or Shaq. It’ll probably be Kobe unless Kobe decides he wants to play for the Clippers or Spurs or some other team. Kobe dislikes Phil and wanted Byron Scott to succeed him, so Phil’s position could very well have to do with what Jerry Buss decides to do aobut Kobe. This is the last season this superstar unit will play together. Payton’s probably gone if they can find a way and Malone’s going to retire if he gets his ring.

    That is all.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Heart-breaking loss tonight. I hate the Lakers with more passion than ever. You have to admire their luck and clutch performances, but it’s sickening after a while.

    I think if the Pistons had won this game, they would have seriously been looking at a better than 50% chance at a title. Now, I think the Lakers are in position to steal one or two games in Detroit and close it out at home. The Pistons did out-play the Lakers these first two games and rightfully should have won them both and they showed me they came to play.

    I think this loss is crushing and I think the Lakers have a pretty good chance at stealing that first game in Detroit. Let’s hope they don’t, because it’s over if they do (they might sweep the next three games). I think Lakers in 6 or maybe even 7.

    Goddamn Lakers. Goddamn Kobe.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    I was jumping up and down in front of the TV when my Pistons were up by 6 points with under a minute left. I was thinking: “SWEEP!”

    Then, Rasheed idiotically fouls Shaq during a lay-up, giving the Lakers a 3-point play. Then Billups misses an off-balance shot. Then Hamilton gave Kobe the room he needed to hit the game-tying three. Then Rasheed bobbles the ball away to end regulation. And then the Pistons throw up nothing but crap in the overtime period.

    VERY disappointing finish. Now Detroit must win Game Three if they are to have any chance in this series.

    If they win Game Three, they will have shown great poise in being able to shake off a morale-crushing loss. If they lose Game Three, they’re dead meat.

    (BTW, who knew that Walton kid could pass so well?)

  • Eric Olsen

    Although the parallels are obvious, I love the lakers as much as I hate the Yankees, having grown up in LA and basked in the tradition of West, Baylor, Goodrich, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, et al, even though I am now at a remove and this bunch seems more a mercenary crew than ever, I have to keep admiring, even loving an ownership and management that does whatever it takes to keep on winning.

    But, of course, I hate all the same things about the Yankees. Humans aren’t supposed to be consistent.

  • http://www.temptationwaits.com visualsimplicity

    But the parallels aren’t that parallel are they? Doesn’t the NBA have a salary cap? This, thus, negates the biggest aspect that causes so much hatred towards the Yankees, which is the ability to buy championships.

  • http://www.temptationwaits.com visualsimplicity

    wonder if my other comment will finally show up….

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    What comment is that? :)

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I think the Yankees pay a fine every year for exceeding the salary cap, don’t they?

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Luxury tax.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Ahhhhhh….

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Go Pistons.

    I’ve underestimated this team’s heart and they showed what they’re made of tonight after a crushing loss on Tuesday.

    I think this win means the series goes 7. I don’t think the Pistons can sweep the Lakers out at home by winning the next two, because the Lakers are too good and too determined. I think the Lakers’ best chance of taking a game in Detroit is Game 4, when they’ll be motivated by a humiliating loss, especially Kobe. The series will go back to LA, and I think it’ll be tough. I can only hope Detroit can win Game 6 or 7 in LA and go there with a 3-2 lead. If the Lakers win the next two games in Detroit, the series is done and over. I would predict the Pistons can eke out Game 5, though, in a very close game. My pick is still the Lakers, though, but this time in 7 tough, tough games.

    The Pistons give the Lakers all they could ask for as a defensive match-up. I like the idea of playing Prince on Kobe because of Prince’s length and size. I think Ben Wallace should stay on Shaq and Billups must continue to get the ball on those pick-and-rolls since Payton clearly can’t guard him. Malone’s injury doesn’t bode well for the Lakers, either.

    Right now, I think it’s 50-50 on who wins the series. The 27/31 statistic of teams winning game 3 capturing a series is heartening, but the Lakers have proven themselves remarkable survivors who you just can’t kill, like champion cockroaches. It’s possible they’ll sweep the next 3 games, so those of us rooting for the Pistons shouldn’t get too happy just yet. The Pistons played great tonight, but they still have to play their best basketball and keep scoring to win this series. They also have to help on Kobe the way they did all throughout this game tonight.

    Larry Brown has generally out-coached Phil Jackson (save a few moments in Game 2 that were crucial) and he needs to pull out every stop and strategy he can to continue to out-play a team with superior talent.

    That is all.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    I should add that if the series goes back to LA, LA will win Game 6 and the Pistons can hope to prevail in Game 7.

    I also think that even if LA wins the series, the overall points scored will favor the Pistons. Every game will be close from here on out. I don’t see LA blowing out this Pistons team the way they did in a couple of games against the Spurs or TWolves.

    That is all.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    I’m obviously happy Detroit won, but I’m still a bit shaken by Game Two (luckily the guys on the court weren’t). By all rights, this series should be 3-0, with the Pistons one game away from a historic upset: Not just beating a more talented, highly-favored team, but SWEEPING them.

    Instead, this series could still go either way. I suspect the Lakers will grab one in Detroit (presumably Game Four), ensuring that the series travels back to LA. That means Detroit may well choke on a 3-2 series lead, just like they did against LA 16 years (or so) ago.

    I absolutely love the way Brown has coached this series (except the last minute of Game Two, of course). First, get Shaq in foul trouble, so he spends crucial minutes on the bench. And second, put the longer Prince on Kobe, and swarm the possible-rapist with double and triple teams. By follwing these two simple rules, you force the rest of the Lakers to beat you. And the rest of the Lakers are playing like shit right now.

    I’ll give you credit on your point guard matchup prediction, BAB: Billups is humiliating Payton out there.

    Three most likely outcomes for this series, in descending order: Pistons in 7, followed by LA in 7, follwed by Detroit in 5. (IMO, of course…)

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Well, it’s 3-1 now. It’s not over yet, but all those assholes who called the Pistons a “JV” team must be feeling pretty fucking stupid at this point.

    Rasheed finally had a good game, and Kobe played like shit. End result: Detroit is one game away from the NBA Championship. (Though they should have already won it in a sweep…)

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Wow, what a game. I celebrated like no one’s business and I’m still feeling the effects now. Is it normal for my ass to be so sore? Just kidding. See? Self-deprecating humor, even from the arrogant.

    I now believe. I think the Pistons will find a way to win this. Their best chance is still tomorrow night. I hear Phil almost caved to the lineup changes for Game 4, and I think he will for Game 5, which will help the Lakers a bit. Fisher is a better player than Payton at this point. I don’t think Rick Fox will give you any more than Karl Malone, nor will minutes from Luke Walton or Slava Medvedenko, but both the old fellas are defensive liabilities. If they are benched, which is a real possibility, I don’t expect them to get many minutes or offer any real production the rest of the series (and their careers, for that matter).

    I pray the Pistons win tomorrow night because I don’t want it going back to LA, but I think the Lakers will be awfully pissed off. But then I’ve said that the whole series — maybe the Pistons have broken their will and the Lakers just don’t have the energy, young legs, coaching strategy or heart to summon up the fight any more. This isn’t the same Lakers team as 2-3 years ago. I do expect the Lakers will win this one and also Game 6 in LA, but I think that RJ’s right that the Pistons have enough heart to take it in 7.

    But watch them win it tomorrow night. I rather enjoy them confounding my predictions the way they have.

    That is all.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    “I now believe.”

    It’s about time! :)

    “I think the Pistons will find a way to win this. Their best chance is still tomorrow night. I hear Phil almost caved to the lineup changes for Game 4, and I think he will for Game 5, which will help the Lakers a bit. Fisher is a better player than Payton at this point. I don’t think Rick Fox will give you any more than Karl Malone, nor will minutes from Luke Walton or Slava Medvedenko, but both the old fellas are defensive liabilities. If they are benched, which is a real possibility, I don’t expect them to get many minutes or offer any real production the rest of the series (and their careers, for that matter).”

    Karl and Gary are done. Put a fork in them. Their careers are finished. And that is a sad thing, because both were once great players…

    “I pray the Pistons win tomorrow night because I don’t want it going back to LA”

    Ditto…

    “but I think the Lakers will be awfully pissed off.”

    Well, they should have been pissed off after Game Three…

    “But then I’ve said that the whole series — maybe the Pistons have broken their will and the Lakers just don’t have the energy, young legs, coaching strategy or heart to summon up the fight any more. This isn’t the same Lakers team as 2-3 years ago. I do expect the Lakers will win this one and also Game 6 in LA, but I think that RJ’s right that the Pistons have enough heart to take it in 7.”

    Pistons in 5 or Lakers in 7. If LA wins the next two, they are doing something right. And if they are finally doing something right, they’ll win it.

    “But watch them win it tomorrow night. I rather enjoy them confounding my predictions the way they have.”

    Tuesday night, I will be wearing my Pistons T-Shirt and yelling at a television set with my father (who is also a Pistons fan, since my entire family is from Detroit).

    We better win. I don’t fear the Lakers playing at home nearly as much as I fear a Lakers team that has solved the Piston’s defense.

    Even if games 6 and 7 were in Detroit, I would be worried if LA wins big in Game Five…

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    It’s all over. Detroit shocked the world, and proved their doubters embarrassingly wrong.

    Now, will Detroit burn down tonight, as famous asshole Jimmy Kimmel predicted?

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    The world is right and just.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    I like Jimmy Kimmel, by the way.

    Bob A. Booey, unfamous asshole

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Er, shouldn’t that be infamous asshole? ;-]