Friday, May 26, 2006

Eastern Conference Finals Recap (Game 2)

PISTONS/HEAT (Game 2): Pistons 92-Heat 88

- For all this talk of SmallBall & uptempo being the new-wave of the NBA, it sure has not seemed to have reached the Eastern part of the USA. The East. Conf. playoffs lately have looked like mid-90s East Conf. playoff battles where defense takes over and easy points are hard to come by. This was the case in Game 2, which was not the most aesthetically pleasing game, filled with a combined 34 turnovers, especially an unappealing 3rd quarter. But the Pistons regained some rhythm that was missing from their offense for the last 5-6 games, helping them stave off a late rally by the Heat.

- Finally the Pistons' offense showed some semblance of consistency for the entirety of a playoff game. They were good, not great--the Pistons shot 44%, 6/22 from 3pt., & 16 TOs, so you can see they still have not quite righted the ship offensively. But they seemed to get better movement and looked more lively throughout the game, thanks in some part to running Rip around more. Hamilton did most of his damage in the first half by scoring 20 of his 22 points in the half. Once again though, Tayshaun was the most consistent Piston from opening tap to final buzzer, doing a little bit of everything as usual--Prince finished with 24 pts. & 11 rebs. (6 off.). Big Ben helped Prince out in the all-around action by doing the dirty work defensively and on the boards (12 rebs.), and also tossing in an unexpected spark offensively with 9 pts on 4/4, & 3 assts. Ben looked to make a concerted effort to make the Heat pay for coming off him defensively. Also, Ben did a solid job holding his own vs. Shaq: not letting Shaq finish with power too often, thus forcing a handful of close misses by Shaq. The Pistons' defense was better than in Game 1 by holding the Heat to 42.5%, although Wade did get some open lanes to the rim vs. the Pistons a little too much.

- I stated before that how the Miami role players go so go the Heat's overall fortunes. Well, in Game 2 the role players combined to shoot 11/37 overall and 4/18 from long-range; not usually good times for the Heat when this happens. The only reason the Heat were even in striking distance late was the superb play of Wade. He was the one Heat that was carving up the Pistons' defense, and single-handedly keeping the Heat in the game in the 2nd quarter--he ended with 32 pts., 7 rebs., 5 assts., but also had 9 TOs. Shaq was alright as well with 21 pts., 12 rebs., but he missed a few chip shots that just lipped out. Although somewhat surprisingly, I felt Shaq was pretty active defensively all night. All in all, I thought the Heat defense was pretty solid once again, particularly from the 2nd quarter on, and did not let Detroit get off from 3pt. distance once again. But the Heat hurt themselves with 18 TOs, especially in a ragged 3rd quarter.

- Obviously, the Heat need to get their role guys back involved down in Miami. For the Pistons, they still need to get their offense back into a good groove, like the one they showcased during the reg. season. Even in Game 2, the offense was still a little rough around the edges.