The NBA Finals: One Man’s Opinion

By Tony McClean
Updated: June 8, 2005

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Despite several media doom sayers and mediocre ratings, a pretty decent NBA playoff season comes to a end with an intriguing Finals match up between the Pistons and the Spurs.

The league’s last two champions split their two meetings during the regular season, with the home team winning each contest. However, San Antonio was playing without All-Star Tim Duncan in Detroit’s 110-100 win back on March 20th.

And for those of you who still think the NBA isn’t about defense, chew on this fact: The Spurs (88.4 ppg) and Pistons (89.5) finished one and two, respectively, in least points allowed during the regular season.

Let’s look at the match ups.

GUARDS (Hamilton/Billups vs.

Parker/Ginobili) Rip and Chauncey made mincemeat of the Lakers’ back court in last year’s final. The task will be a little bit tougher this time around. Ginobili and Parker easily dismissed the league’s MVP in the Western Conference finals. These back court duos mirror each other, but I’ll give a slight edge to the champs because of their defensive play. Tony and Manu are underrated as defenders, but Motown probably still wins this match up.

Edge: Pistons.

FORWARDS (Prince/R. Wallace vs. Bowen/Duncan) Much like the previous pairing, this is another intriguing and possibly series-deciding match up. Tayshaun and Rasheed have had their ups and downs this post season, but they both came up big in Game 7 at Miami. As everyone knows, Bowen is an absolute demon on defense and Mr.

Duncan is Mr. Duncan, nuff said. While Wallace has a decent history against Ol’ No. 21, I think Prince will get frustrated by Badgering Bruce’s antics. It’s just the kind of thing that could sway the series.

Edge: Spurs.

CENTERS (B. Wallace vs.

Mohammed) Both of these fellows are really forwards that aren’t really centers, but they play them on TV. Don’t be surprised if you see Big Ben spending more time in the paint helping out to neutralize Mr. Duncan. The same will probably happen with Nazr dancing in the paint with Rasheed and others. Since neither one is a true offensive force, this match up comes down to (surprise!!) defense. Mohammed has been a great acquisition for San Antonio, but remember, Ben isn’t the league’s Defensive Player of the Year because he occasionally wears a cool ‘fro.

Edge: Pistons.

BENCH (Hunter/McDyess vs. Horry/Barry) Before this series is over, Robert Horry will hit a big shot. He’s done it every post season since joining the league. Lindsey Hunter is another defensive force off the Motown bench that’s underrated as an offensive force. Despite being neophytes to the Finals, veterans Brent Barry and Antonio McDyess will have an major impact on this series. The one wildcard? Don’t be surprised if Beno Udrih becomes a factor as well.

Edge: Spurs.

COACHES (Brown vs.

Popovich) Whining Larry vs. Sulking Greg will be great for the sound bite crews and the cameras. I must admit I’ve never been a fan of either of these coaches, but they’ve both done a great job of getting their teams to this point. Both have overcome major injuries and other obstacles along way. I’d favor Brown only if he’d just stop being damned unlikeable. Even though the Cleveland situation wasn’t a factor against the Heat, you just know in the back of your mind that some of his players aren’t muttering nice things about him.

Edge: Even.

FINALLY I really feel this will be a very exciting series that will play out in all seven games. While San Antonio has had almost a week to prepare, I’m not quite ready to make them the clear favorites. You always have to beat the champs before you get your just due. Right now, I think the Pistons are still the class of the NBA. They may be a bit boring to some, but what a way to be boring.

The Pick: Pistons in seven.