2003-2004 NBA Season

Casey Trowbridg

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There might be some who would not think that Isaiah Thomas was a top 5 player.
I am not one of those myself, so then for me it would go back to the Supersonics in 1979.

It all comes down to this though. So much of this thread was people saying wait until June, and all will be revealed, well now its June.
 

Dome Vongvises

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Here's a thought: if you were Karl Malone or Gary Payton, would you quit if you won the series? I know I would.
 

Scott Merryfield

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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.
Isiah may have been the best small man ever to play in the NBA. He was definitely one of the best players during that era, IMO.

The Bad Boys Pistons had something else that even the great Jordan Bulls and current Lakers do not have -- great depth of talent. They had three excellent guards (Thomas, Dumars and Vinnie Johnson), All-Star Bill Laimbeer (who once lead the league in rebounding and could play inside or outside), Mark Aguirre (former #1 overall draft pick from Dallas), defensive player of the year Dennis Rodman (another NBA rebound leader), along with solid role players James Edwards, Rick Mahorn and John Salley.

That's nine players who would have been starters on most NBA teams during that period. This team not only won two straight NBA titles, but they made three straight NBA Finals appearances and five straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances. And this was during the height of the some other great teams in Boston and LA, and the beginning of a great team in Chicago.
 

Jan H

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I'm not one of those who believes that Isaiah was ever one of the top 5 players in the league (at the time in question, I would've taken Bird, Magic, Jordan, Akeem, Malone, Drexler and maybe Barkley ahead of him), but he and Dumars were certainly the best backcourt of the era (with the possible exception of Magic and Byron Scott) and the Bad Boys overall were the deepest team the league has ever seen. Any comparison of today's Piston team over the Bad Boys is a laughable exaggeration.
 

Lew Crippen

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The Bad Boys Pistons had something else that even the great Jordan Bulls and current Lakers do not have -- great depth of talent. They had three excellent guards (Thomas, Dumars and Vinnie Johnson),
Ah the microwave—Daley anticipated ‘small ball’ often playing all three at the same time.

In fact to the list of talent, I’d think that you’d have to add Daley himself. I don’t know if he was the best Xs & Os coach, but keeping on top of all that ego was no mean feat.
 

Brandon_T

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There is a great article on Joe Dumars at ESPN. It isn't as much about the Pistons as it is about his thought process of taking a horrible team to a Finals team. I think it may be an interesting read even if you aren't a Piston fan.

You can find the article URL=http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs2004/columns/story?columnist=aldridge_david&id=1814806]here.[/url]
 

Seth Paxton

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Casey, my comment about thinking you know but don't is that the West does not play defense like the East. The ugly ball rep of the East has a lot to do with the long standing history of having to play physical defense to win the conference.

Even Jersey made their way through by play turnover to transition ball.

This is why you don't hear me touting East teams as great offensive teams. I suppose on their good days the Bucks, Pacers, and Hornets could dial it in, but for the most part none of the East teams are loaded with scorers nor did they try to play that way.

So fans that watch a lot more West ball than East ball might feel that with Kobe and Karl on the Lakers that LA has this great defense. But the fact is that LA leaves the passing lanes open often, rarely gets up on a guy before he catches the ball, rarely gets physical with someone (outside of Karl) and generally don't have great hands (again, outside of Karl).

Malone is a good defender but his lack of speed and sideways agility make him succeptable to being taken off the dribble as long as you are careful with the ball when you bring it up or hold it near your waist.

Kobe has the speed to jump passes and pester dribblers, but I think you will find that he easily has as much trouble taking care of Rip going through screens as a guy like Artest did. That requires teamwork, especially physical plays to slow down Rip as he comes through the middle, and outside of Malone this is just not something LA does.

However good Minny's defense or Houston's defense appeared, its going to look like slo-mo compared to what Detroit's schemes are.

Rip is another Reggie, and its not like in 2000 LA was able to slow him down. Indy went 3-2 with an OT loss as loss #4 in 2000. This LA team is no better than that team, despite the HOF credentials. DET has Wallace instead of Smits which means a lot better inside defense.

Prince will see his scoring come back up I think and Billups is actually more physical than Payton at this point, plus he has size on Fisher and can post him up.



I think LA will get plenty of points, especially from Kobe. And there could be nights when Wallace and Wallace find foul trouble. But LA shouldn't expect this to be easier than either Houston or SA were, and in both those series LA avoided real trouble with squeeker wins (just like DET did to be fair).


I think the matchup is outstanding and should provide very close games. Of course its possible that DET will fold under the big time pressure of their first Finals, and that advantage is no small one for LA (and Phil over Brown).


Sheed looked healthier as the series went along BTW, so I don't see that as an issue. In the first few games I was hoping for him to shoot it.




I put up the stats before about top teams in the Finals, and while each conference as strong teams in there, neither of them finished with a top 3 record, thus moving the series into rarified air. Of course unlike 95, one team was #2 in their conference, the other #3, and both were just a few games off the pace, so its not the upset that 95 was.

That Tayshaun is going to do to Kobe what he did to Miller?
He did it to more than just Miller. Look at the end of game 6. It's not just Ron's foul and some missed shots there. Yes, giving the chance Prince can block Kobe going to the rim also, he doesn't just pick on weak layups by old men.


I'm on the fence with my pick, too tough to call. I guess I like the wild card aspects of Kobe hitting big shots, experience in the Finals, and Phil's winning ways, and will go with LA in 7. Still, my gut says that DET should be right in it and might win it.
 

Seth Paxton

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Ah the microwave—Daley anticipated ‘small ball’ often playing all three at the same time.
Yeah, it was very impressive to see them go with that lineup. It really created problems.

Probably the last of the great depth dynasties. Since then its been all about 2-3 top flight players and a bunch of also rans.
 

Seth Paxton

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One last thing, now that Indy is out I get to listen to every stupid ass moron come up with his personal fix for the team, especially dumb ass trades that either financially couldn't happen or realistically never would. Isn't that shit the worst.

Let's see, I heard Croshere and Artest for Finley, cause yeah that helps.


I even heard someone say AI the other day, though thankfully Mark Patrick laughed them off the air basically.


Carlisle has said they will alter the roster and I think they would like to get a PG with an outside shot. People are talking about Harrington moving into a starting role with Reggie moving out (though Rick insists it won't happen) but when exactly did Al become a serious 2? The answer is never.

Artest stays unless we are talking about getting T-Mac in return I think. And with Fred Jones showing his talent at the 2, I think it puts Al and Bender into the "time for a trade" area. I don't see what kind of PG talent that can get you at this point however. Who has a PG they don't want? Maybe SAC would move Bobby Jackson I suppose, but they don't really need Al I don't think.

I guess there will be moves, but frankly I don't know what to expect or what can really be had in that dept. Maybe a Jamal and Al package could get a top flight PG from someone willing to downgrade at the 1 to improve at the 3.



The sad truth is this, Croshere got overpaid after the 2000 Finals. Had he not then Indy would have had the cap room to keep Brad Miller and Indy is in a whole different situation this year and next. Oh well, what's done is done.


BTW, while I understand the "next step" attitude for DET to win it all next year, let's not forget that Indy has the same attitude with DET and sees their experience in the East finals as the difference that will push them over the top next season (getting there this year). So I don't think DET should inherently expect to return to the Finals next season, though they should have the talent to be a top contender still. Each team has "next step" plans that contradict each other, so at least one will have to be wrong.
 

Jan H

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Good read, Seth, thanks. Barring injury, however, to think that the Pistons will take the Lakers to 7 is akin to Smarty Jones losing the Triple Crown...Oops, I mean, uh, anything can happen.


Anyway, if the Pistons win one game, I'll believe they have a chance. But Detroit's offensive ineptitude almost cancels out their defensive brilliance. I only say almost because the series hasn't started yet, but I haven't seen a Finals team that hoists up as many bricks as Detroit. It's possible that Miami, Indiana, New Jersey (and whoever else still plays in the East) all play incredibly suffocating defense over the course of 82 games and the playoffs. Wow, this is the greatest defensive conference in the history of the league! All you have to do is score 85 points to win! Pity the poor Lakers to have to try and score against such a defensive juggernaut. I mean, the Lakers play no D at all (except for Malone). They walked all over those pushovers, the Rockets, Spurs and Timberwolves, all the while scoring an astronomical 90 POINTS A GAME!

Seth your hatred for the Lakers has now reached ridiculous levels. Jeez, now I know how Yankee fans feel.
 

Casey Trowbridg

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Jan, Ironically enough, Seth is a Yankees fan.

I’m going to make a few brief statements and that will be it.

I’m sorry to say this, but realistically Detroit is probably an average team at best. Reason is, that while it is true that they play great defense, they also play horrible offense, and good basketball is a balance between offense and defense. You may prefer one emphasized over the other, and find that more enjoyable, but that does not mean that it is good basketball to be able to do 1 well and the other not at all. Dallas is an average team for the opposite reasons.
The Lakers are an above average offensive team, great when they want to be and they are a serviceable defensive team, which means that they are the better team. They may not be as good on defense as Detroit but they won’t have to be because the margin between the offenses is so wide.
Hey, the Pistons could hold the Lakers to 68 points tomorrow, but it is not out of the question to think that if the Lakers only score 68 that the Pistons only score 60.

My last statement is that I was right about Indiana. In fact, I was right in general when I said that playoff conditions were so different than the regular season. Obviously they were because hey, Indiana 3-1 against Detroit during the year, not playing tomorrow. Minnesota 3-1 against the Lakers this season, also not playing tomorrow.
Your opponents have an effect on your team. If you play in a conference full of teams that have trouble scoring, then your defense may look better simply by default, not that it isn’t a good defense, but it can be made to look better. If you play in a conference where a lot of points are scored because teams are built for that your defense can look worse than it actually is. This works both ways, but you can’t tell me that Detroit playing against a bunch of teams that can’t score anyway didn’t help their defense a bit. You can’t tell me that L.A. playing against some teams that can’t defend all that well didn’t make their offense look better.

The Pistons are done playing JV teams that are skilled only in 1 area, and are about to play a team that is up to the challenge at both ends of the court.
 

Casey Trowbridg

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I'd better clarify something. This is where conference superiority comes back in to play. The Lakers might not play teams regularly that are as good defensively as Detroit, but the defense those teams play is still in most cases above average...where some of the offenses Detroit played against were just plain awful, Indiana, Milwaukee being among those in the playoffs.

The West has more teams that are very good at one end and servicable or better at the other than the East does.

Better balance = better teams = better conference = champion comes from better conference, = another title in Los Angeles.
 

Jan H

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Chris Farmer? Farmer? Oh, yeah, Spurs fan, right? Haven't heard from one of those in a while...


 

Brandon_T

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Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah, well you Lakers MIGHT have the better team, but you better hope Tayshauns boys don't come out of the stands should Malone get to physical, don't forget, Tay is from the streets of compton....


And you know what, on a more serious note, through this whole thing, I have tried to keep a level head even when everyone picked against Detroit against NJ and Indy. But this statement
another title in Los Angeles.
let me know how the parade is....

And one more thing, many, many of the "national experts" including Dr. Jack Ramsey said there were three teams in the east capable of giving the west champ a run. Detroit did go through the other two, doesn't that lend to any more credibility?
 

Jan H

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Look, Brandon, to be honest, the Pistons are worthy winners of the Eastern Conference. They play hard and they never give up. I don't mean to disparage you or your team. But I knew the Bad Boys (not in a biblical sense or anything). And your 2004 Pistons are not the Bad Boys. Those guys would kick the crap out of everyone playing today. But the Mid-'80's Lakers would've done the same to them!


Lakers in 5
 

Jan H

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NBA history is fun, but it has little to do with the here and now. Here's why the Lakers will win in 5:

Scenario #1: The Pistons get overrun in Game 1 and 2. They have the support of their home crowd and manage to score an overtime win in Game 3, 71-70, on a lucky 3-point shot from Mehmet Okhur from half court at the buzzer. Lakers win games 4 and 5, 80-72 and 52-48.

Actually, that's all I can think of. Ok, I changed my mind...

Break out the brooms,

Lakers in 4
 

Carlo Medina

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As I said earlier, I like the Lakers in 6 - whether it's because the Pistons put up enough offense to win 2 games, or the Lakers want to win at home (like I thought they did in 2000 vs. Indy and even predicted it before the series and re-emphasized it to my friends while before Game 5) is anyone's guess (my money's on the latter).

I do agree with some points above, but not that the Pistons are "average". They are a great defensive team which does count for something. But yes, basketball is about balance. You cannot be all offense (see: Allas Mavs) or all defense and expect to win it all. Detroit's D should keep the games close and will probably legitimately win 1-2 games, but barring a major injury to LA I don't expect it to go 7.

Bring on game 1!
 

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