You thought the Pistons missed the playoffs? Not at PistonPowered.
We’re honoring the 10th anniversary of the 2004 NBA championship team by examining each postseason game on the corresponding 2014 date. We’ll look back at Detroit’s performances, detail our memories of that time and provide insight from the players and coaches who were Goin’ to Work every single night.
So, stick with us this “offseason.” I have a hunch these Pistons will be playing into June.
|Chauncey Billups, PG 40 MIN | 6-18 FG |5-6 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTSBillups had another rough shooting night, but he got to the line more. And, quite frankly, with how the rest of the team was shooting, an attempt from Chauncey wasn’t much worse than from anyone else.|
|Richard Hamilton, SG 35 MIN | 8-18 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTSHamilton achieved a rare feat in managing to foul out and then still get ejected with his second technical before checking out. So he was doubly ejected I suppose? And it was a godsend for the Pistons with the lousy defense he had been playing. They were down a dozen with under five minutes remaining at the time. Over the next four and a half minutes, Detroit outscored the Bucks 17-7 to very nearly take the game. On the other hand, for much of the game, he was one of few Pistons who could get the ball into the net.|| |
|Tayshaun Prince, SF 28 MIN | 5-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTSPrince actually defended reasonably well, but this was a classic instance of good offense beating good defense as Michael Redd surged to a playoff career-playoff-high 26 points. Tayshaun held his own, though, filling up a box score nobody could complain about.|| |
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 41 MIN | 7-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTSSheed was the best Piston on the court for most of the game. The Wallaces shut down the Bucks’ frontcourt, but were occasionally slow to help out on penetrators. But I have to dock him for mishandling the ball down the stretch and costing the Pistons a chance to take a shot for the tie or the win.|| |
|Ben Wallace, C 41 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTSAs alluded to in Sheed’s segment, apart from Toni Kukoc (who did most of his damage outside the paint), Milwaukee’s front court shot 12-38. The Wallaces played some tough defense. Unfortunately, Ben didn’t contribute much at all on offense. Even his offensive rebounding was paltry by his lofty standards. He grabbed under 8% of those available compared to the 12.5% he’s been doing all season.|
|Corliss Williamson, PF 14 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 0 PTSWilliamson was terrible in this one. Besides missing all five shots and giving the ball away three times (two live ball turnovers and one offensive foul–and he threw in another loose ball foul just for good measure) in just 14 minutes, the moment he entered the game, Milwaukee went on a 9-0 run.|| |
|Lindsey Hunter, PG 20 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTSHunter was again a beast on defense. And he threw in a bit of playmaking, too.|
|Mehmet Okur, C 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTSMemo’s box score speaks for itself.|
|Mike James, PG 10 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTSI’m not sure if it’s completely fair to hold James responsible, but he was in to play defense and Brevin Knight played very well with James guarding him, compiling 2-4 FGs, 3-4 FTs, 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 turnover in those 10 minutes.In other words, Knight severely outplayed James, making James a liability in this game.|
|Darvin Ham, SF 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTSHam was about as useful as last time.|
|Larry Brown, Head Coach |
I gave Brown a fair amount of credit for having his team so ready last time so he has to take some blame for the opposite. The Pistons are significantly better than the Bucks. They should be winning at home. Still, they were hardly blown out. I’d expect Detroit to earn at least a split in Milwaukee and recover home court advantage.
The flip-the-switch mentality begins
During the latter stages of Detroit’s elite run in the 2000s, a common criticism of the team was that the relied far too heavily on a ‘flip the switch’ mentality. There were times when the team coasted, didn’t defend as aggressively, got into early holes that made it a necessity to mount furious comebacks and, in general, had no issue with giving their fanbase collective heart attacks. That cruise control mentality ultimately cost the Pistons in later years of their run. But during the 2004 NBA Playoffs, it’s easy to see why it developed.
The game two loss to Milwaukee was a perfect example. The Pistons had dreadful third and fourth quarters. Their top scorers, Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups, did not shoot well. Other than a strong performance by Lindsey Hunter, their bench provided nothing (including a scoreless effort from key sub Corliss Williamson). Ben Wallace was good but not great. They did not do a good job of containing Michael Redd and, to make matters worse, they let Toni Kukoc have a throwback performance off the bench. And yet … the Pistons never really looked like they were going to lose that game. They might not have, if not for a couple of late mistakes by Rasheed Wallace.
The Pistons were a good come-from-behind team under both Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown, but the 2004 playoffs took that to new heights. The Pistons, no matter how bad they played and thanks in large part to their ability to be a historically good defensive team, never looked out of any game or series. There was always a feeling that they just needed to make one or two plays late, and they’d win. When that confidence began to fail them as East competitors got tougher in later years, it got frustrating and hard to watch. But in 2004, when it was going well, there was not a more fun aspect of that run than the inevitable moments the Pistons would rally to get back into a game or even series they’d fallen behind in.
From the frontlines
In a funny way, falling behind by 15 points to the Bucks with three minutes in Game 2 proved the Pistons knew their identity.
So did cutting that margin to two with 30 seconds left.
“That was the loosest team I’ve ever played on,” said Mike James, who now plays for the Bulls – his 13th team in a 12-year career.
The Pistons were the only favorite to lose one of its first two first-round games home games in 2004, but they didn’t panic or even show much concern.
“We didn’t feel any doubt at all,” said Tayshaun Prince, who’s now playing for the Grizzlies in their playoff series against the Thunder. “No disrespect to Milwaukee, because I think more so the reason why was because we knew we still had that series in control.
“Once we lost Game 2, we made it important to ourselves, let’s go ahead definitely take care of Game 3 and ride that momentum and wave into Game 4 and go back home and close it out. Especially when you’re dealing with the first round, you don’t want to let a team hang around for six or seven games, because it can cause a problem going on into the next series as far as trying to get rest and being able to prepare and focus the right way – especially knowing that your next opponent is the New Jersey Nets. You really want to get that out of the way.”
Detroit Pistons, meet Michael Redd.
As strong as the Pistons defense was that season, it was a matter of when, not if, the Bucks All-Star guard would find his stroke — and those 26 points he scored were silky smooth.
But just like the Game 1 win, don’t overreact to one loss.
Aside from the shooting struggles of Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, the Pistons out-played Milwaukee in every aspect. If Rasheed Wallace doesn’t fumble a late pass out of bounds, the Pistons could be heading to Milwaukee up 2-0.
Instead, it’s the Bucks who now have home-court advantage as the teams head across Lake Michigan for a pair of games beginning April 24.
The Pistons split their regular-season games in Milwaukee, but Detroit won nine of its final 13 road games.