Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Eastern Conference Finals Recap (Game 4)

PISTONS/HEAT (Game 4): Heat 89-Pistons 78

- For the second game in a row, Miami was in danger of blowing another game they seemed to be controlling in every aspect. If you were watching the 1st half without the score graphic on the screen, you would have assumed the Heat were up by 20 points at halftime. But the Pistons were somehow down by 6, after being seemingly dominated, and continued to put the pressure on the Heat with a well-played 3rd quarter on both offense & defense. But Wade was not going to let this game slip away, and he put on a MVP type display in the 4th quarter.

- Wade made just enough big plays in the 4th quarter to push away the Pistons after a difficult 3rd quarter for the Heat. Wade, who was shut down in the 3rd thanks to the Pistons' solid zone, came back to life in the final stanza with some Jordan-like shots that were too much for any Piston to contain. Dwyane finished with 31 pts. on 8/11 shooting overall, 6 rebs., 5 assts. & went 15/19 from the line. Shaq had another efficient game with 21 pts. on 8/12, and once again flashed his refound mobility on both ends--had to love the full-court lay-in off his steal and also the quick spin on the baseline for the reverse jam. The supporting cast was not needed too much in this contest since the Pistons' offense continued its lackluster ways, but Haslem added a nice third option to the mix by hitting the open looks that were available (Udonis had 16 pts.). The Heat defense continued the strong effort its shown the last 10 games, by holding the Pistons' offense to 39% shooting. Although, the Heat were more careless than usual on their defensive glass--the Pistons grabbed 14 off. boards. These extra possessions plus the missed free throws were the only reasons Detroit was even in remote striking distance in the 4th.

- I suggested that the Pistons' offensive woes could be more of a chronic problem a couple of days ago, just as a hypothesis. Well, I feel pretty comfortable now that is the case, and it might be the effect of more deep-seeded issues inside the Detroit locker room. Whatever the case, the Pistons' offense could not find a consistent rhythm besides a fluid 3rd quarter and the last few minutes of the 2nd quarter--the Pistons shot 39% overall. Basically, no individual Piston had much of an impact of note on the offensive end. I guess Billups was solid with 14 pts. on 6/12 & 7 assts., and was the impetus in the 3rd quarter for keeping the Pistons close. Prince started off well and seemingly single-handedly keeping Detroit afloat in the 1st half--he ended with 15 pts., but shot 6/16. Detroit missing 10 free throws did not help their cause too much, especially when Miami missed 19 of their own. The Pistons defense was not much to write home about either. The Heat shot 55% overall--this is the third time in the series that the Pistons allowed more than 50% shooting. You combine that with putting the Heat on the free throw line 47 times, not good times. But even with these numbers, I still don't think the Pistons were terrible defensively in this game. I thought they did a great job in 3rd quarter by sticking with the zone for a long time, and it really took Wade out of his game. I have to give Flip some credit for sticking with the zone so long. One of my biggest pet peeves with NBA coaches, is they are usually too impatient when someone makes a basket on a zone.

- Obviously, the Pistons are in big trouble and they don't look to have the same cohesiveness that has been their trademark for the last couple years. You're hearing all these veiled complaints in the press from many Pistons, and they are coming at the worst time possible. I wondered before if they miss Larry Brown more than they or anybody thought, and I am starting to feel more confident about that theory each game.

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