Seems like the Detroit writers have their bags packed and reservations made for Miami already
Pistons can take easy road to Miami by quickly putting Pacers to pasture
By Rob Parker / The Detroit News
In reality, the Pistons should be closing out their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Pacers tonight at The Palace.
The Pistons know it. The Pacers know it.
In fact, everybody who follows the NBA knows it.
Instead, the series is 2-2. The Pistons let the Pacers back in it by losing focus for 1 1/2 games.
And it cost them two games.
Still, it wasn't anything the Pacers did. It was what the Pistons didn't do.
Make no mistake about this series: The Pistons control it.
Now, the Pistons can make it easy again by beating the Pacers the next two games and moving on to face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
Or they can mess around and finish this series in seven games.
It's not a question of if, but really, when.
"It's hard to say why you let up like that," Pistons president Joe Dumars said. "It's nothing more than human nature that people let up sometimes.
"The real test is, can you recover from it?"
Clearly, the Pistons can.
The last four postseasons, the Pistons have made it their MO -- a couple of bad losses at home, such as Game 2 against the Pacers, and then a rebound.
Still, there's never any fretting, never any woe-is-me talk.
They've simply learned to live with this problem. That's what makes this team so resilient. Nothing seems to shake it or disrupt what the ultimate goal is.
"We were in trouble a few times last year," said Darvin Ham, whose team lost Game 4 at home last year that tied the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers, 2-2. "It is what it is."
The Pistons seem to like this system of being pushed and having others tell them they aren't good enough to get the job done.
Then again, this team is made up of players other franchises didn't think could ever rise to a championship level.
"It has been good for us in the past, to get a jolt," Dumars said. "When we've stumbled, we've always found a way to recover in a positive way."
Maybe if there were a clear superstar, someone others could hitch their wagon to and look for a clear passage, it wouldn't have to always be difficult. It's just not the case.
But no matter how bad things get, they never panic. They never point fingers. They take their lumps and simply move on.
It's a mark of a champion.
"The experience helps out, obviously," Tayshaun Prince said.
So does solid Pistons defense. The Pacers have shot 38 percent overall, 27 percent from three-point range.
"We're playing a great defensive team in Detroit," Pacers guard Reggie Miller said.
Said Rip Hamilton: "We have to go out there with that mentality that, regardless if everything is going great and all good, we still have to come out and play even harder. We can't relax. I think early we relaxed and things like that. We can't do that. It's playoff basketball. Sometimes, we learn the hard way. Now we have to continue to play the way we're supposed to play."
You can reach Rob Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.