Pistons Earn 5th Straight Trip to East Finals
Pistons (1) vs. Bulls (5): Pistons 95, Bulls 85 (Game 6)
- The Pistons' defense did not seem to be messing around today. The Pistons' D was a nuisance in the 2nd half holding the Bulls to 37 pts on 33% shooting. The gameplan was to contain Hinrich on his ball screens and not let him easily turn the corner & do his Nash-like dribble-probe action. In the 2nd half, they contested many shots, and any action that came near the paint was thwarted by Sheed & Co. It also helped that the Bulls just missed their open looks at a high clip, that can always make a defense look better.
- Prince became the go-to-guy in the 2nd half using his deadly little hook from the right block to do damage. Tay added some pull-up jumpers & some strong finishes to close with 17 & 9 rebs. Rip pumped in 23 pts mostly off of mid-range jumpers, usually coming off curls into the lane. McDyess was once again highly productive off the bench, especially pounding the boards--10 rebs in 25 mins. Dice averaged nearly 8 rpg in 24 mins for the series. Sheed was the fulcrum of the Piston defense that held the Bulls to 37% overall, was a major deterrent in the painted area, and did a good job helping on screens for Hinrich. Sheed was an all-around stud with 16, 13 rebs, 4 assts, & 2 blks.
- Hopefully the Pistons' defense gets the praise now that they have deserved all year long. I felt that some folks just assumed that Detroit was not as good defensively this year without Big Ben, when actually they were very good in the reg. season and even better than last year. Pistons' D was excellent for most of the series, held the Bulls to 40.8% overall, and did not let the Bulls shoot above 37% in any of the Bulls' losses. The Bulls' defense was not too bad itself--the Pistons only shot 42.8% for the series.
- Pistons won the rebound battle in Game 5 by 13. Have to hand it to the Pistons for outrebounding the Bulls, who were 6th best in the reg. season, by almost 3 rpg. Another area where the Pistons won a key battle was defending the 3pt line. In our preview we pointed to the Bulls being only 2nd to the Suns in 3pt% and the Pistons were one of the best teams at defending the 3pt. line. Something had to give in this series, and the Pistons came out on top--the Bulls were held to 32.3% for the series, and if you take out Chicago's 10/16 nite in Game 5, the Bulls only shot 26.3%.
- After the Bulls couldn't miss anything in Game 5, the iron was not as kind in Game 5. They had plenty of similar open looks, but they just couldn't find the mark. Hinrich was having a mighty tough time with his shot (3/13), and Ben Gordon connected on some of his 3pts. (4/9), but overall was only 7/18. Kirk & Ben had somewhat of a rough shooting series vs. the Pistons--both guys shot 39% from the floor for the series. Kirk was garnering a lot of attention from Detroit defenders all game & this opened up space for his teammates, who Kirk found for 11 assists.
- Luol Deng was really the only Bull who lived up to his reg. season rep in this series. Deng had 17, 5 rebs & 4 assts in Game 5. In maybe his last NBA game, PJ Brown emptied out all his last bullets in Game 5 and had an offensive explosion in the 1st half. PJ was hitting jumpers, lay-ups & some bankers on his way to 20 pts on 7/12 in the 1st half. The Pistons were leaving him open while focusing their attention on Hinrich. But PJ used up all his ammo in the 1st half, because after halftime he scored 0 pts.
- Bulls have to feel pretty good about their current status. They won 49 games, got to the 2nd round where they just lost to a better team, and if they would have beaten the Nets on the last day of the season, they could have avoided Detroit until the Conf. finals. They have a promising young core to build around on the perimeter, and some potential on the bench. Paxson's main priority is to find some sort of offensive post presence. This was the same priority last summer, but Pax threw all his money at a post presence who had no offense. Not saying the Big Ben signing was horrible, but the Bulls already had a superb defense, and a possible younger version of Ben in Chandler. The Bulls could possibly have a very good draft pick to work with (via the Knicks) if the lottery shakes out in their favor. They have to decide on what to do with Nocioni. The Argentine is a free agent who brings a great energentic punch, and is a fan favorite. But then again, you have Deng playing the same position and you have Ty Thomas who will demand more minutes at the forward slots, so Noce could be expendable. Maybe could be used as trade bait to grab that post scorer the Bulls need.