Notes on the Conference Finals

Originally posted on “Is It Sports?” by our NBA expert, AJ. AJ is a diehard Pistons fan, and gives his thoughts on the coming finals with the Spurs.

Spurs – Suns
– Joe Johnson in a mask makes Rip in his mask look like Fabio.

– Phoenix is two solid bench players, including a point guard and a big body to play in the middle, away from a title. They need to be able to come in and change the pace of the game for a few minutes while Nash and Stoudemire rest.

This one is played out just as I suspected, the Spurs know how to play defense and the Suns do not. That is the bottom line here. I have never seen a player who can make an entire team bad on defense like Nash can. About every fourth or fifth series he decides to play defense but most of the time he lets his man go by without even bothering to slow him down. The whole team has to then collapse Nash’s man giving everyone open shots. The defense he does play is good only because of the total shock that Nash is providing some resistance. This series spotlights the difference of what a great defensive player does to a team versus what a great offensive player who does not play defensive does. Bruce Bowen is playing complete shut down defense on Shawn Marion, taking a perennial all-star out of the series, making everyone on his team better. Nash on the other hand, is making everyone on his team worse, by forcing his team to cover for him on defense. It also causes his big men like Stoudemire to pick up unnecessary fouls while trying to keep Parker and Ginobili out of the paint.

Heat – Pistons
– I know this has been said a thousand times but Stan Van Gundy is Ron Jeremy.

– I’m not sure I have seen worse refs then in game 4. Anytime there was any contact they would call a foul, it got to the point where it was just comic relief. At first the Pistons were getting upset, then they learned what was happening. I saw Prince, Rip and Hunter all take dives in the second half and get calls out of it. Price even got a tech called on Haslem on a dive. At the end it became a game of who could adjust to the officiating better. Detroit won by attacking Shaq and Zoe with their guards getting them into foul trouble. In general the refs just had way too much of an impact on the series.

-I’m sick of the Wade-Jordan references, but Wade was getting Jordan like calls. If he drove to the basket and didn’t make his shot there must be a foul right?

This is an epic battle of team basketball versus star basketball, and to tell you the truth there is no right answer. Star basketball wins when the stars have unbelievable games, but if stars are hurt or have a bad night the team will win. Good teams can win despite of injuries. Wade had a heroic performance in game 7, but in the end no one else stepped up.

NBA Finals
I was looking on espn.com about the series and I noticed a fan poll, the basic results were as follows
54% Thought the Pistons had a better backcourt
60% Thought the Pistons had a better frontcourt
63% Thought that Larry Brown was a better coach
51% Thought that the Spurs would win

Does that make sense to anyone? Do that many people think that the Spurs bench is so much better that it will lead them the win the series? The Pistons aren’t as good of a match up problem for the Spurs as Suns were.

Parker – Billups – Billups easily wins this one, he is a better on both ends of the court, and is there anyone in the NBA right now that you would rather have controlling the ball in the fourth quarter of a big game than Billups?
Ginobili – Prince – Prince needs to do a better job covering Ginobili than he did with Wade. Prince’s problem with Wade was his quickness, he should have as much of a problem with Ginobili. If Prince can hold Ginobili to less then 20 points a night, Detroit will win.
Bowen – Hamilton – This is the match-up that will determine the series, if Bowen can cover Hamilton coming off of a screen, this series will be over in five games. The one advantage Detroit has here is that Hamilton can help on Duncan and Ginobili while he is covering Bowen.
Duncan – R. Wallace – Another great match up, Duncan is obviously a lot better player but it will be interesting to see how well Wallace can hold him. Wallace needs to try and take Duncan to the basket to draw some early defensive fouls, while avoiding foul trouble himself.
Nesterovic – B. Wallace – The whole key to his match up is for Nesterovic to establish himself as enough of an offensive presence so that Ben can not cheat over and provide help defense on Duncan.

I’m sticking by my prediction of Detroit in 7 Games. This series could easily go either way, and both teams have the potential to win in 5 games. This is what NBA basketball is all about, two fundamental sound teams playing great basketball. I can’t wait to watch. – AJ