2003-2004 NBA Season

Brandon_T

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Hey Seth and all you Pacer fans, congrats on a good season, you have a good young team, and JO is awesome. Had he had some better help tonight you probably would have pulled it out.

I am looking forward to seeing the Pistons in the finals again. I think the matchup could be either better than what Laker fans think, or a sweep. Going to sleep on this tonight, I know this is old hat for all you laker fans, but for us Detroit fans it is something that is special and not an every year expeirence for us.

Brandon
 

Casey Trowbridg

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Brandon, I personally value every trip to the finals like it is the first 1 in for ever, and possibly the last one for a long time...so I'm just as excited for this time as I was for 2000, but that's just me.

I would probably think that the Pacers and Pistons will be here again next season...so I'm looking forward to that.
You might be one of the only ones...this game was awful for the most part though it did pick up a bit at the end. The shooting especially in quarter number 2 was horrid. I know that some of that is due to good defense, but good defense and not being able to make shots consistently just makes things worse and worse.

Look it pains me to say this, because I like the Pistons fans in here. It pains me to say this because I am one of the few non-Piston fans that dug the bad boys back in the late 80's early 90's, and it pains me to say this because its been a long time coming for this franchise, but realistically I just don't see them having much of any shot to win barring an injury. I want a competitive finals, and I want one that will be better than what we got last year, and I believe that will happen. I hope it goes 6 but wouldn't be surprised if it only went 4.
You might not believe me because after all I am a fan of their opponents and would've picked L.A. to win anyway, but I'm hoping for a better series than I'm expecting.

Detroit, you earned it. I got my finals match-up correct and that makes me extra happy.

Indiana...well what can I say? They're not done yet, they'll be back around, partially because they are a good team and partially because they're in a weak conference. I hate to shovel dirt on the grave, but I think the team had a better record than they really should've. I don't know, but I'm just going to assume that their poor shooting was limited to this series, because if it weren't I'd have to really wonder how they managed to be the league's only 61 win team.

The ESPN guys ragged on this game something fierce at halftime, I was almost expecting them to say, "Why don't you see what's on ESPN 2 instead?"

So it all comes down to this

The Eastern Conference Champions, the Detroit Pistons
The Western Conference champions, The Los Angeles Lakers
for the NBA Championship of 2003-04.
Sunday, 9 PM ET on ABC. I can't believe that starting time BTW.

I hope that healthy players on both sides and not the officials or injuries can decide the series, regardless of who wins.
 

ZacharyTait

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Woohoo! Man, that was one ugly game. I was worried in the first half when Detroit couldn't make a bucket to save their lives.

Ron Artest's flagrant foul was the difference as well as Tayshaun's block on Harrington right before that.

Play of the series: Tayshaun's block on Miller. If it wasn't for that, this series would be going to Game 7 Thursday night.

NBA Finals prediction: Pistons over the Lakers in 6 or 7.

MVP: Richard Hamilton
 

Seth Paxton

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I haven't seen the TIVO of the game, but I was calling from the concert getting scores. I got the 1st qtr score, then the 8 minute left tie, then basically the final with about 40 seconds to go. I've read that Reggie showed his age and blew 4 points on a FT and open 3P.

At least they contested in game 6 and proved that these 2 teams were legit top East teams. People think DET won't give LA trouble, but I disagree. I do wonder where DET offense will come from, but the good news is that LA's defense is A LOT worse than IND.

LA fans think they know, but they just don't. I saw Shaq "defend" in 2000, and he doesn't. The guy often doesn't even get his hands over his head.

Rip will get his points, Kobe will also be tough.

I think this is the spot that DET needs Prince and Billups to bring some serious offense, and they can in these matchups. I'm not sure what offense Sheed and Ben can deliver against good hands Karl, but it could be more than expected.


I seriously think that some Pacers fans who are currently bummed about losing to a 2nd rate team will soon realize that DET really was top tier material.



As for my night, a friend has connections and got us VIP seats by the sound board and green room passes. So as we were waiting to get our green room passes the guard who was helping us asked us to stand a bit back because someone was coming out that way (just before No Doubt was to go on). Turns out it was Gwen and she was all of 10 feet from us (so very hot
).

Then during Blink 182 it turns out that our box was right next to a special drum kit for Travis (Blink drummer) to come out to and play a solo. We knew something was up when a ton of security gaurds came out to our box to guard the railing between us and this black box thing that looked like a platform might come out of (and ended up being the drum kit). Dude was all of 5 feet from us. So close that you could hear the live drumming over the mic'd/amped version on the speakers.

So my team lost a heartbreaker, but I could take it in stride since I expected worse tonight from them and had a great diversion in the meantime. It beat the shit out of my race day experiences.



but I'm just going to assume that their poor shooting was limited to this series,
It wasn't. It started to pop up even in parts of the Boston series. But for the season it was much, much better. I'm telling you that without Jamal this team's offense goes right in the toilet, just like it did without Mark Jackson a few years ago. People bitched about his slow feet and semi-good outside shooting, but the dude made the offense run.

When Tinsley is healthy and on so does he. To me the biggest problems for Indy in the post-season was the need to address the issues of transition of key players. Reggie IS NOT the man now. Yes he had a couple of moments and games, but he should have been in BYRON SCOTT'S role for the mid-90's Pacers, the vet that comes in and gives you the occassional boost.

Yet in the playoffs they pushed toward him MORE. That's just a failure to deal with reality. The same thing happened with Tinsley when he got hurt. Rick left him out there way too long trying to let him be the injured hero type. I admire Jamal trying and wanting to do it, but sometimes you have to be the bad guy and say "kid, ya ain't got it tonight".

That was Rick's one issue in the postseason. Reluctance to hurt people's feelings.

BTW, I take it from Mike's post that Anderson got in the game. I can tell you right now without seeing the game that this was a huge mistake. Dude got smoked twice, once by MIA with the big lead, once by DET with the big lead. When he was playing regular he was decent, but after sitting so much he looked like CBA garbage. Too short as well which made him Billups bait in game 4.


Indy will hang AC out but the Bobcats won't take his contract. I think you can protect 8, right? If so I see Indy listing -

JO
Artest
Foster
Tinsley

Fred Jones
Harrington
Bender
and maybe Miller, but this is an iffy one.

Anderson will sign elsewhere, AJ might get taken, and Indy would love to move AC's contract and sign a scorer (a guy like Brent Barry wouldn't be bad...too bad they didn't get Jon Barry in this last year after some serious discussions about it). Not sure what will happen with Primo and the other Jones.
 

Casey Trowbridg

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LA fans think they know, but they just don't. I saw Shaq "defend" in 2000, and he doesn't. The guy often doesn't even get his hands over his head.
I'm not sure what you mean by that L.A. fans think they know, but they just don't comment...but, I will agree that Shaq is not a real good defender and more often then not a lazy defender.

However, part of this is at least somewhat due to the fact that the center position is weaker now than at any other time that I can remember. You've got power-forwards pretending to be centers, you've got centers that can't score...everything. Its not like back when it was Shaq, Ewing, Robinson Hakeem and so on.

Shaq knows that really their is no center threat to him right now, and when its this obvious, unfortunately sometimes it causes laziness.

Seth, it sounds like you had a good night in spite of the game...although you should be extra glad you haven't watched the second quarter yet. It was at that point in the game, I knew whoever came out the winner was walking in to an asskicking. I don't expect the Lakers to be as lazy in this series as they were in the Minnesota series...although it could happen, this is the title series, the most important one.

Detroit had 27 at the half tonight
L.A. had 28 at the end of 1 last night.

Realistically, Detroit is going to face a team that has home court and is 9-0 at home in this post season...going to be well-rested (although both teams will have time off), a team that likes to make statements in game 1 (well accept against the Spurs where game 1 wasn't until game 3) and a team where guys off the bench can get hot enough to do damage when it is needed most, and it can be different guys different nights.

So, Lakers in 5 and I haven't the foggiest for MVP...probably Shaq.

On the NBA.com thing I believe I picked L.A. in six after tonight I was considering them in 4, and was also thankful that it was not San Antonio and Detroit...no good would've come of it.
 

Michael D. Bunting

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BTW, I take it from Mike's post that Anderson got in the game. I can tell you right now without seeing the game that this was a huge mistake.
Seth, It was just awful. If you happen to watch the game...just start FF'ing once he comes in (two different times), because if you don't...you will be cursing his name for months! I think he had 3-4 TO's in 5 or 6 Minutes of playing.

The Artest Flagrant foul was a killer too. Artest was cheap-shoted by Hamilton in the junk, and then Ron retaliated (now, not as badly as they made it out to be on ESPN, but still VERY stupid!) and that cost them 4 PTS right there. This was with 2+ minutes to go (maybe 4+) can't remember...

I wish Jeff Foster would have been utilized more in this series (even though he is not much of a scorer)...I still think they could have run some plays for him after his sucess in the Miami series. But DET's Defense was the factor in Jeff's lack of playing time most definitely. I still think he should have been used more than 2 minutes last night though.

All in all - good game, especially if you throw out the first half
And the end


I wouldn't mind seeing Bender left unprotected and taken in the expansion draft. I just don't think this kid can take it to the next level. But, what do I know?

I really like Croshere (always have) - though his Defense is pretty shoddy at times. I think not playing much those seasons while Zeke was in town really stunted his growth as a baller.

I think signing Brent Barry would be an awesome move for the Pacers this offseason. They need someone who is a 3 PT specialist and can also drive to the rack (much like what Croshere has been doing) but also one that can finish (what Croshere hasn't had much success at to this point). Barry made $5.4M and wil probably get $7-8M with a new deal this season. Supossedly, Denver and San Antonio are interested in him, and Indiana was interested the last I heard any rumors before the playoffs started.
 

george kaplan

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My thoughts going into the finals.

What I've seen so far in the playoffs is a Lakers team whose combination of top tier talent and mediocre effort has been enough to beat the Spurs and T-Wolves, who have had great effort and great (though less than the Lakers) talent.

Now we've got Detroit who will no doubt out-hustle the Lakers, but I don't see them as any being able to play any harder than the Spurs and T-Wolves did. And while they are a very talented team, I see them at least a notch below both Minnesota and San Antonio, talent-wise.

So, based on that, I expect the Lakers to win...but who knows?

As far as whether the East finals was mostly superior defense (as most Pistons/Pacers fans believe), or mostly inferior offense (as most non-Pistons/Pacers fans, including every analyst I've heard, believe) will be seen in the upcoming finals.

If Detroit can do to L.A. what they did to Indiana (i.e., hold them to 67 points or less 3 or more times and never let them score more than 83 points), then I'll believe it was the defense. If the Lakers get into the 90s, and especially if they can break 100, then there's no way that it wasn't mostly bad offense. But we'll see.
 

Scott Merryfield

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The Artest Flagrant foul was a killer too. Artest was cheap-shoted by Hamilton in the junk, and then Ron retaliated (now, not as badly as they made it out to be on ESPN, but still VERY stupid!)
I do not see how anything that Rip did on that play could be called a cheap-shot. He backed into Artest while trying to post up and bumped him with his rear end, as players do all the time in the post. Artest retaliated with a deliberate forearm to the head of Hamilton. The play definitely deserved a flagrant foul call, and it killed the Pacers. Without that moronic play, the series may have gone back to Indianapolis for a Pacers seventh game victory.

Anyway, I do not think anyone except the most blatant "Piston with blinders on" fan expects Detroit to beat the Lakers in a seven game series. Once again, the Pistons would need to win in six games, because there is no way they would win a Game 7 on the road in LA. I think two victories against LA is the most that can be expected of this matchup. Therefore, I'll go with LA in six games.

Hopefully this will follow the same blueprint that the Bad Boys Pistons did in the late '80's, progressing each year to the next level. That would mean a title in 2005. Of course, Dumars still has some work to do if that's going to happen.
 

Shane Martin

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Just to be different I'll go with the Pistons in 6. If it goes 7 then the Lakers will win due to some experience.

The question then becomes when do the 2 troublemakers(IMHO), get into it... ie Sheed and thug Malone. I will say this much though, Rasheed seems a bit more in control now and I wonder how much of that is a combination of winning and the coach he has now. Then again he could be impressing folks for a "Phat" contract he wants next season. One the Pistons are likely to sign him up for. I almost think its a natural fit not to slight Detroit in any way but the team chemistry there seems rather good with him on it.
 

Lew Crippen

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If Detroit can do to L.A. what they did to Indiana (i.e., hold them to 67 points or less 3 or more times and never let them score more than 83 points), then I'll believe it was the defense. If the Lakers get into the 90s, and especially if they can break 100, then there's no way that it wasn't mostly bad offense. But we'll see.
Not necessarily the other games, but the lack of scoring on game 6 was not due to good defense. It was just a bunch of guys who could not score.

So bad that Reggie missed not one but two free throws in the final minutes.

And now for all of the good that he did this year, Artest will live yet another year with a hothead label. Someone who puts his own feelings of the moment above the interests of the team. It makes no difference if it was payback or not—you can’t afford that kind of foul in the waning minutes of a close game.
 

Carlo Medina

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Like I've been saying all along: the finals will show whether it truly is exceptional defense in the East, or good defense coupled with bad offense.

I will be the first to admit, as a Laker fan, if the Pistons hold LA to under 70 for multiple games, that it is the former. But I tell ya, LA lost that one game to Minny by scoring 71 points, which was a *franchise low* in scoring for the playoffs. However that would have been enough to beat both teams last night.

I have no doubt that the Pistons defense will not allow LA to reach 100 like Minny did (although statistically they were fourth in opponents FG% allowed at .414, just .001 points worse than Detroit), but apparently the Lakers won't need to reach that plateau to win.

I will fully agree that Shaq has been a lazy defender, also a lazy rebounder. But I think he is finding his aggressiveness when he needs it. Shaq has found a sort of re-dedication to doing "the little things" and letting others score. He averaged 11.5 RPG in the regular season and has upped it to 13.9 RPG in the playoffs, and 15.7 RPG vs Minny (and remember KG won the regular season RPG).

But the thing that gives Laker fans the most hope is their scoring balance. Yes it's still mostly a two-man show, but in years past, ShaKobe would account for 60% or more of the Laker scoring. In the playoffs, Kobe is averaging 25 and Shaq 20, while the team is averaging 90. So that's down to 50% which is a heck of a lot better. Gives the rest of the team confidence that if one or both go through stretches of struggling, they can still win.

More importantly, their outside shooting has gotten better. Fish is being Fish (especially if he can come back from that ankle or knee sprain), Kareem played lights out that one game going 6-7 from 3pt land, but don't forget he was shooting 37% from 3 *before* that game in the playoffs, which is more than respectable (the outburst raised it up to 47% which is misleading). And Slava is starting to show he understands that he should only take open shots within his range, and he needs to do the little things like board and hustle and [try at least] to play defense.

And one thing I think the East is forgetting: the Lakers are physical as well. They have to tone it down for the Western conference, where the style of play is different and the fouls are called a little differently. But you think Big Ben is going to outmuscle Shaq? That Tayshaun is going to do to Kobe what he did to Miller? Fish can draw the offensive foul, but he also plays stand-up D unlike others who excel at drawing O-fouls (I'm thinking Floppe, er, Vlade). Malone, while old, can still play post defense with the best of them. Sure KG "got his" with the points total. But how many times was KG exhausted by the 4th quarter, enough to make him unable to bring the Wolves back ala Game 7 vs. Sac?

Just like the East is saying "oh don't worry, Detroit will score more because the Lakers (and by proxy The West) doesn't play good D" - I'm saying "if the East thinks the Lakers are a patsy West finesse team, they got another thing coming."

If the game is called tightly, the entire Detroit squad might foul out (at least, the important defenders). If the game is called loosely, then Shaq starts roaming in his comfort zone for his "high percentage shots". If the Pistons clog up their "no fly zone" the Lakers have shown they can shoot over it (unlike the Pacers). And not just from 3, but from mid-range shots. Try to play Shaq straight up, especially with Big Ben who to his credit does not flop, and it's going to be a long series [actually it will be a short series].

Can't wait for the finals! Wouldn't be surprised if it went 6 to get 3 sellouts at Staples.

I was actually talking to coworkers again about the home-sell-out conspiracy I advanced a few days ago, and said that if it were vs. Indy, they'd steal one on the road, and then close out in 3 at Staples (the max # of home games). I said if it was against the Pistons, look for them to sweep at home, lose 2 on the road, and win in Game 6 to get at least 3 Staples home games. The NBA, ABC, and Staples Box Office, would hate a sweep, revenue-wise.
 

Scott Merryfield

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Carlo, the only thing I can dispute in your post is:

And one thing I think the East is forgetting: the Lakers are physical as well. They have to tone it down for the Western conference, where the style of play is different and the fouls are called a little differently. But you think Big Ben is going to outmuscle Shaq? That Tayshaun is going to do to Kobe what he did to Miller?
Prince guarded Artest, not Miller. Hamilton guarded Miller most of the series.
 

Patrick Sun

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I'll probably be rooting against the Lakers (keeps things interesting for me), but I also wonder if the Piston defense can hold up against good outside shooting, or will the Lakers be manhandled in the series.
 

Carlo Medina

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Scott, I just specifically meant that one block that Tayshaun had over Miller. Kobe would have dunked that.
 

Michael D. Bunting

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The Artest foul was definitely a foul, but I think it was far from Flagrant...

Here is what Ron had to say after the game:

Afterward, Artest alternated between saying it was a good call, to saying it should have been a double flagrant, to saying it shouldn't have been a flagrant at all.

"Rip elbowed me in the stomach and I retaliated," Artest said. "I just put my forearm up. I protected myself and caught him in the face by accident.

"Mine was an accident. His was on purpose."

While I hardly believe that his was an "accident" I really don't think it was that bad - good acting by Hamilton got that call, but what Ron did was inexcusable. That is for sure. Look at the replay again and it really was not that bad. It looks stupider every time though
Ron certainly matured this season and I don't really think this is a problem again this offseason (worry about RA and how he handles himself)...he won more games for the Pacers with his Defense (and even his Offense) than he will ever cost them with commiting a bad foul. His timing was very bad this season - but I don't think it'll happen again this time next season. Who knows though?

So bad that Reggie missed not one but two free throws in the final minutes.
This is just not true...Reggie only took one free throw all night (on the Hamilton Technical Foul after the Artest incident) and missed that one...

And I'll echo what Seth has been saying all along..as Tinsley goes so do the Pacers...Tinsley played 3 minutes of game 6 and left the game with the Pacers in full command of the game (though it was early). I just wish he would have been healthy for this series.

In that respect, I wish the Pistons the best of luck against the Lakers...they are pretty much 100% healthy (minus R. Wallace and his foot) and that definitely will give them a better shot to beat the Lakers than the Pacers would have had if they had gotten to the Finals.
 

Lew Crippen

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This is just not true...Reggie only took one free throw all night (on the Hamilton Technical Foul after the Artest incident) and missed that one...
You are correct--my bad.

There is a view held by some, that in order to win the NBA title, you must have at least one legitimate, top 5 player. I’m not sure that I believe this to be true, but consider the last several years.

The last five years have seen the Spurs and the Lakers win (Duncan, Shaq & Kobe). Then there was eight years split between the Bulls and The Rockets (Jordan and Hakeem).

There might be some who would not think that Isaiah Thomas was a top 5 player. If so, then the next two years with the Pistons winning would be an exception. And we go back to 5 years split between the Lakers and the Celtics. The 76s win one with Doctor J and we are back to three years of Lakers/Celtics again.

Finally in 1979 the Supersonics win without a big-time player. 25 years to get to a team without a top-5 player (expect perhaps for the two years of the Pistons).

On the other hand, this year’s Pistons’ GM was the two-guard on those teams—and was the player that Jordan said defended him better than anyone else. So perhaps there is hope.

But I’m picking LA in 5.
 

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