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Harddrive7
05-03-2004, 02:23 PM
I hope it hasn't been posted, if it has I'll gladly delete it.

I agree with what A.D. had to say, but that's about it.


http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs2004/columns/story?columnist=lawrence_mitch&id=1794376




Let's hear it for the underdogs.


Let's hear it for the team that has won 14 straight playoff games in the East, sweeping out its last three opponents. Let's hear it for the team that has won seven straight road playoff games against the East. Let's hear it for the two-time defending Eastern conference champion New Jersey Nets.


They're not the favorite against Detroit in the conference semifinals?


Yes, and it's perfectly fine with them.


"We'll probably be underdogs from here on out," Jason Kidd said. "We don't have a Shaq, a big dominant guy. We play as a team."


They've been on an absolute rampage through the East in the postseason since Kidd's arrival, but now they're playing the best team they've ever faced in the postseason -- this side of the Mississippi. Although the Pacers were the cream of the East, it's the Pistons -- and not the Pacers -- who are the best-equipped team in the conference to dethrone the Nets. It comes down to a few factors:



1. Big guys
Why not Indiana? They've got only one big guy, and Jermaine O'Neal still has to prove to more than a few folks that he can be an elite playoff performer. That includes the Nets, who have always had the upper hand in the matchup because of Kenyon Martin.


"What Jermaine needs to do is show people," said Antonio Davis, the ex-Pacer and current Bull, on the eve of the postseason. "I think he needs to step up and show people that when the game is on the line, he's going to take control of the game and get it done. Whether it's getting a rebound or block or bucket or whatever. Because that's the difference between guys who get there and have all the tools and experience and use it, and the guys who don't. Some guys run off and kind of hide in the mix. There've been a few games in the playoffs where Jermaine has run off and hid. But there were games where he stepped up. He needs to show the consistency of doing that in each and every game in the playoffs. But that's tough to do. When you're playing a team and they know what you do, inside and out, and you're playing them for five or seven straight games, and no matter what they did, they couldn't stop you -- then you've shown me something. That's special. Shaq or Duncan or Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas or Larry Bird or Michael Jordan, they could all do that."



Big Ben isn't the only Wallace who'll give the Nets problems.
Why Detroit? The Pistons have two big, long athletic guys who could make life a living hell for Martin, starting Monday night in the Palace of Auburn Hills.


The two Wallaces -- Ben and Rasheed -- are the perfect antidote to Martin, who has always had the clear-cut advantage in the East during the playoffs. It was clear that Martin had too much size and athleticism for the Knicks' undersized and less-athletic frontcourt players. He went for 23 points a game on 64-percent shooting against New York, including a career playoff high of 36 when the Nets applied the broom to Stephon Marbury in Game 4.


"This won't be like the New York series, where he could do whatever he wanted around the basket," one Eastern Conference scout said. "Wallace is as strong as Martin, but he's also taller and just as quick."


You'd never know from his stats against the Bucks -- 14.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks -- but Rasheed was hampered in the first round by a sore left arch. If it affects his ability to stay on Martin, the other Wallace should be able to challenge his shots, too. Ben Wallace will be matched up against two non-scoring centers, Jason Collins and Aaron Williams. Their inability to be offensive threats should allow Ben freedom to roam the middle, looking to give Rasheed help. That's the perfect role for Ben Wallace, who is one of the top help defenders in the game.


"The thing that makes Detroit so tough is that they have two big guys who really protect the goal," the scout added. "Indiana really only has one."



2. Point guard
Why not Indiana? Do you really think that Jamaal Tinsley and Anthony Johnson or any other Pacer is capable of slowing down Kidd in a potential conference finals?


Right. We didn't think so, either.


The Nets are 27-7 against the East in two-plus playoff runs with Kidd, and reason No.1 is that he normally wins his matchup -- in a landslide. Just ask Marbury, the latest victim of Kidd's superb playoff efforts.


"He just knows the game so well," said Marbury after his first season in New York came to a crashing halt. "He knows when to break the defense down. He knows when to pass the ball. When to take shots. He's not a guy who will dominate the game by scoring a lot of points, but he knows how to make the game easy for their other guys."


Why Detroit? Chauncey Billups will be getting his second shot at Kidd in the playoffs and figures to be a difficult matchup. Billups was victimized by Kidd when Kidd hit the game-winner at the end of Game 1 of the conference finals last spring. But he was also playing that series on a badly sprained ankle. This time, Billups is healthy and should be able to present problems for Kidd at both ends.


"Chauncey's ability to drive is going to make it tough on Jason, especially if his knee starts acting up," the scout said. "Chauncey's got great explosion and he's a tough cover."


The longer the series goes, the more Kidd's knee injury will likely be a factor. He started to slow down in Game 4 against the Knicks, when he had problems against a slower Frank Williams. With Kidd already suffering a knee cartilage injury, it's the kind of situation that will worsen over time and with extended play.



3. Defense
Why not Indiana? Don't get us wrong. The Pacers are an excellent defensive team and boast Ron Artest, the Defensive Player of the Year.


Why Detroit? They're even better than the Pacers at playing defense. With their acquisition of Rasheed Wallace, the Pistons finished the season tied for first in defense, allowing only 84.3 points a game. They also finished third in field-goal percentage defense (.413).


In the first round, the Pistons shut down the Bucks, who averaged 85.6 points a game on just 41.6-percent shooting. They could turn the Nets into a half-court team reliant on a jump shot, which has always been Jersey's downfall.


"They have a luxury," Milwaukee coach Terry Porter said of the Pistons. "They have two shot blockers (the Wallaces) that can block shots and cover a lot of ground."


It's not just the Wallaces. Tayshaun Prince gives them a third shot-blocker. His 7-foot wingspan is going to be a factor against Richard Jefferson. The Pistons were a great defensive team under Rick Carlisle last year, but Larry Brown has added some wrinkles that makes them even better.


"Last year, they basically played you 22 feet and in," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "This year, they'll pick you up full court. They'll be more disruptive. They'll force more turnovers."



4. Scoring options
Why not Indiana? The Pacers have two scoring options, O'Neal and Artest. (We're not counting Al Harrington or Jonathan Bender, until they show they can do it against someone other than those pitiful Celtics). But of their big two, Martin has always given O'Neal fits as a defender, a point that the Pacers forward has conceded.


Why Detroit? Although the Nets privately don't think the Pistons have the one player who can deliver against them in crunch time, Detroit will enter the series with more scoring weapons than the Pacers and most other teams.


"This is definitely a different team," said Ben Wallace, thinking about last year's team that never reached 90 points in any of its four playoff losses to Jersey. "Right now, given the chance we can run with them, we can slow it down and play in the half court."


Besides Billups and Rasheed Wallace, the Pistons can go to a more consistent Richard Hamilton (20.2 points a game and 48-percent shooting vs. Milwaukee) and Prince, who Larry Brown called the MVP of the Bucks series. The Nets' defense basically had the last series off, facing a one-man Knicks team reduced to Marbury. Now, their usually-stingy defense will be tested against a team with the homecourt advantge looking for some revenge.


"It sometimes go unnoticed, but since the trade for Rasheed, they're averaging more points," Frank said. "They averaged over 100 points a game during their series against the Bucks. So they're not a hold-the-ball, stall, deliberate team by any means. There are going to be a lot of up-tempo moments."


Probably enough for Detroit to win this series.

Mitch Lawrence, who covers the NBA for the New York Daily News, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

NewYawk
05-03-2004, 03:13 PM
Again, who cares what Mitch Lawrence "thinks."

ChicagoJ
05-03-2004, 03:23 PM
I don't agree with Mitch Lawrence but there are plenty of good points in there...

A series against NJ or Detroit is going to be difficult for the Pacers to win. A series against Indiana will be difficult for NJ or Detroit to win.

That's why they play the games. On paper, you can support just about any opinion you want to support.

Now I've got to get back to proving that my client isn't really a crook (on paper).

Mourning
05-03-2004, 03:37 PM
So, we only have JO and Ron as scoring options :confused:






















:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: Damn! This guy hasn't got a clue. I'm sure Martin choking all the time in SEVERAL play-off contests in the past is taken into account :omg: Further, I still think Reggie is going to explode for atleast one or two games. And what's up??? Didn't JO have like 15 rebs last year in the 1st round aswell as 20+ pts. And why not count Al's points and performance from the previous round, while including Tayshaun's :confused:

Where I come from that is called "selectief winkelen" aka "selective shopping", picking only the stuff that you want and ignoring or downplaying counterarguments for the sake of "proving" your opinion.
I hope we sweep the 2nd round too, I doubt it, but the more rest we get for the Conference Finals the better it is ... provided we advance to that stage, offcourse :rolleyes: .

Anyway, I don't mind looking critical at the Pacers, and the whoever we will face will give us problems, thats why they advanced that far themselves too, because they are good too, but this is just pre-configured rubbish, nothing more ... nothing less.

Regards,

Mourning :cool:

AcneBrain
05-03-2004, 03:44 PM
Best record in the NBA...

3-1 against Pistons...

3-1 against Nets...

:dance: