I found one thing very disconcerting tonight. I was completely unimpressed with Rick's substitutions. I felt that he was no on track tonight.

Now, before I get into my analysis, I am in no way blaming Rick, or discrediting the Pistons, or degrading the play of certain Pacers. All I am looking at is a game plan in this series that left a lot to be desired based on what I watched for nearly 82 games in the series.

The pros of this series with Rick:
1) I thought Rick did an excellent job with time outs in most of the games. Tonight being the exception, but he was really able on the road to utilize timeouts to quiet the crowd on the road at crucial times, and stop the Pistons momentum at home. I was pleased, but this wasn't unlike anything I wouldn't have expected. He has been doing an excellent job all year with time management and running this team in this way.

2) Rick seemed to learn in this series how to bend. I know all last year he was criticized for being to strong headed and immovable, but inserting Croshere into was a great move. It showed a clear progression of the mind of Carlisle.

3) He was able to keep the guys motivated this whole series and season and I am so happy. I didn't feel like last season, Isiah gave us anything like that. The players didn't show the gall, the heart necessary to make it through the dogfight in Miami or take the Pistons to six games. The young guys stayed encouraged, and I feel everyone gave what they had. (I was especially impressed with Tinsley playing hurt, something we didn't have the chance to see from him last year. Props to him and I hope this off-season treats him well.)

Now for the cons. This is the part that I hate to post, but I really want to see if others feel like I do about this series. This won't be in parts, mostly one long sermon:

Carlisle put his pride out there and it cost us seriously. Too much was made about the Brown vs. Carlisle match up and he was concerned with how people would say he stacked up. Players, aka Ben, saying that they didn't need him, that he didn't help him, and always making not that his lack of player rotation and ability to change hurt the Pistons last year. As I mentioned, I am truly proud he learned to change, but his pride hurt our chances. About game six, and I will only stay hear, unless people wish to talk more.

A) He started Al. Not a bad move and it was clear the Croshere trick had worn its welcome, so he decided to mix it up but why? Al was our guy off the bench, and we needed him there. Al did well tonight, but our bench could have used him.

B) As for Anderson, trying to play him was fine, but having AJ take all the minutes rather than point guard by committee didn't seem to work all that great. I don't know how else he could have handled it, but I wouldn't have minded Fred getting 25 minutes instead of 14 and playing some of AJ's 37 minutes. It was clear at the end of the game that AJ was dead to the game, in his defense and offense. Not that he didn't play well, but it is hard to jump in, in those pressure situations and play HUGE minutes.

C) Foster had 2 minutes. 2 MINUTES. "Stay with the horse that got you there." I mean for a guy that help push a team to 61 wins and averaged 24 minutes a game, to play nothing in the most important game of the year, I felt robbed. I felt Carlisle did this team a grave injustice. He wasn't playing all that poorly. We could have used his rebounding, I mean, did anyone notice the 15 offensive boards the Pistons had this game. I don't think Carlisle did. I am sure Foster would have made some impact on that. This Foster thing was the thing that bothered me the most.

D) Two final points that I will lump together. Even with Carlisle's front to show his change of coaching on the biggest stage of his career with his old team watching, hoping to draw their envy, he was never able to see players for their true impact, but rather punish them for their poor decisions. Fred came out WAY too much for as well as he had been playing. Defensive liability: Maybe, but he had been playing strong and shooting well with his attacking of the basket to be playing limited minutes in an offensive struggle. (And why doesn’t anyone on the court ever look to find him when he might be the best 3 point shooter in this series, and these playoffs?) And as for Bender, he was punished more than anyone. Bender had 3 KEY blocks, but had 3 bad threes after each of them and was benched. He was making the defense and working hard. Either play him or don't, but don't watch him make an impact and take him out to watch Croshere get roughed up in the post. Not like Bender was the only one missing shots. I think these two guys got shafted tonight, but that's probably just me.

E) Reggie? Well what do I say? I don't know if he played too much or not enough. You guess is probably better than mine?

Overall, I couldn't be more impressed with the job Carlisle did this year with this team. He pushed them so hard and we went SO very far. It wasn't our time, and our time will come soon enough.

I am not blaming him in anyway, but I do think Rick let his pride affect his coaching and with that, this team can chalk up at least a loss or two to Detroit to being out coached. No offense Rick, change is good, but shaking the confidence of your players, having ill faith in your starters, not getting JO the ball and taking it out of Ron's hands where detrimental, and did not aid us on this very day.

I hope I have laid out some things others where thinking and I see flaws in a lot right now. Of course hindsight is 20-20, but these are things I thought even the causal fan would have noticed in the game, that Rick seems to be blind too. His growth in the off-season to me is just as important as any of our players, and I truly await his progression into the realm of coaching immortality.

Thanks for the season guys. The draft awaits us. And I have no doubt we will be successful.