It’s rough, but it sure ain’t right.
Cleveland has just beaten Detroit by 18 and 12 (and last night’s 94-82 win wasn’t as close as the final score) to take a 2-0 series lead.
Let’s flash back four years ago to the last time the Pistons were in this type of hole. The Spurs had just beaten Detroit by 15 and 21 to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals.
But Detroit remained resilient. Pistons coach Larry Brown and Rasheed Wallace via the Detroit News:
"We have great character in our locker room," coach Larry Brown said. "We’ve got competitors. We’ve got guys that want to do the right thing. That’s why I think we’re all so excited about the next game.
"Nobody’s happy about the fact that we’re two down or about the way we got beat, but everybody’s excited about having an opportunity to continue and make this a series."
Asked afterward if the champs lost their composure, Rasheed Wallace tried to regain his.
"No, I don’t think so," he said. "They were making a lot of outside shots. They make those, there’s not too much you can do about it. … We still feel good. It’s the good ol’ boys versus the Bad Boys and now it’s the Bad Boys time."
This was the origins of Detroit’s “if it ain’t rough, it’ ain’t right” mantra. The Pistons dug themselves got themselves into so many holes during the last few years, they got used to climbing out of them. No matter the obstacle, their swagger didn’t disappear.
"Nothing we’re doing now is working," McDyess said. "We basically have to play a perfect game just to be on top."
That doesn’t exactly exude the same confidence Brown and Wallace had four years ago. This series is over, and the Pistons know it.
In 2005, the Detroit won the next two games by 17 and 31. Until this year, Detroit’s core players have known, if they play well, they could beat anyone.
But Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace are gone. Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Tayshaun Prince are older. The Pistons don’t have the tools to beat every team when they flip the switch.
Now, the Pistons play like they know they can’t win a title. I don’t think they want to put out the effort knowing it won’t produce results, anyway.
The Detroit News’s Bob Wojnowski wrote a column after the Pistons fell behind 2-0 to the Spurs. Here’s the end of it:
"I know we’ve got great character, we’re competitors and good guys, and we’re gonna do everything we can," Brown said. "If they’re better, they’re better. But I don’t feel like this series is over, and I don’t think anybody in this room does."
It will take all the Pistons have to climb back in it. Whatever they have left, they need to unleash now. I don’t think they’ll let it end like this, bowing meekly in blowouts, because that’s not who they are, or were.
All we’re asking is that they remind us, quickly, who they are. Or were.
The ‘09 Pistons can’t show us who they were, only who are they are.
And that’s why they’re finished.
There certainly have been games the Pistons have never led. And they’ve probably gone on 25-4 runs, too.
But I doubt it’s ever happened in the same game before.
Through the first 84-and-a-half minutes of the series, the Cavaliers played like they were in the NBA Finals. I’m not sure if the Pistons, who turned the ball over eight times in the first 13 minutes, reached regular-season intensity in that span.
But with 11:29 left in the fourth quarter last night and trailing 79-50, Detroit began a 25-4 run. And the Pistons even outscored Cleveland 7-1 right after LeBron, Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao came back into the game.
For must of the spurt, Will Bynum, Arron Afflalo, Walter Herrmann, Jason Maxiell, and Amir Johnson were on the floor. Those players have started a combined a combined 73 games their careers. This season, 59 players started that many games this by themselves.
In no way was this run indicative of future Pistons success in this series. If anything, it made it more disturbing the starters don’t play this hard.
Cleveland’s starters settled in and went on an 8-0 run to put the game out of reach.
I was pretty down on the starting front court after game one, and that hasn’t changed.
Combined, they shot 7-for-21 last night. Tayshaun Prince is 3-for-12 and has six points in the series (just four total rebounds, too).
And Antonio McDyess made two free throws last night. Now, the starting front court has combined for two free-throw attempts in the series.
Worst of all, though, is their defense.
Prince has done nothing to contain LeBron, and McDyess and Wallace haven’t protected the paint once LeBron blows by Prince. Last night LeBron had 29 points, including 13-of-17 from the free-throw line, 13 rebounds and six assists.