Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Heat - Pistons

Something really must be said about the Heat - Pistons game last night. For all the talk of a resurgence in the East, it remains the significantly weaker conference. Though relatively strong at the top (i.e. these two teams), there is currently not another team that is the equal of the Spurs, Clippers, Grizz or even the Artest-Kings. But more disconcerting is how UGLY these teams played in game 1. It's a shame too, because the 2004 Champion Pistons played really pretty basketball. What happened? Isn't Flip Saunders the offensive genius who allowed the Pistons to open up and find their inner playground hoopster? I mean, I realize that it wasn't a good shooting night for the Pistons, but it's beginning to feel a little like a return to the NBA real world, where life is pretty tough if you don't have a mega-super-star to force a double team. As for the Heat, Wade is terrific, but only played like, a quarter. The rest of the time it was Shaq (who's not a lot of fun to watch - kind of like watching me play against my 10-year-old) and a bunch of 30-somethings jacking up threes.

And then this - the first-ever dueling hack-a-thon. Thank god Riley took Shaq out of the game before I had polished off the last bottle of pills. How bad is Ben Wallace from the line that Riley fouled him while the Heat were ahead? That's got to be the first time that has ever happened. And how stupid is Riley anyway? I mean, the Heat were something like 2-11 from the field in the 4th quarter, and he decides to foul and stop the clock. Sure, Ben missed both, making the strategy look great, but statistically, he was gonna make one, while the Pistons as a team couldn't hit an abandoned building on 8 Mile with a fire bomb on Devil's Night.

Besides, if it makes sense with 3 minutes to go holding a lead, when exactly does it NOT make sense? You know, Wayne Simien and Michael Doleac are just sitting there, with nothing to do all game long. The league gives them 6 fouls each, and it seems a shame to waste them. How much longer before we see the Hack-a-Ben in the first half? Why not? If you're shameless enough to use it when you're ahead in the 4th quarter, I think it's safe to say that pride is not a deterrent.

Finally, I must ask again, if a player is so bad on offense that a team will foul him in order to protect a lead, how can that player be on the all-NBA team 5 years in a row and be a perennial all-star? Give him all the defensive awards you like, but stop pretending that he is better than about 50 other guys who actually play both ends.