NBA General

Around the Rim: Detroit is going home, and that’s a good thing

1. Detroit makes the East finals, again
Detroit was on the verge of giving up a 3-0 lead to the Chicago Bulls but the Pistons went into Chi-Town for Game 5 and sealed up their fifth consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference finals with a 95-85 victory. In typical Detroit fashion, there was no flash or flare from any one player; it was just nine role players falling into line for the one uniting cause. The former Bad Boy and current Baby Bull Ben Wallace had to be extra disgusted as his old team celebrated in his new arena after he could only muster six points and seven rebounds in the elimination situation. Now that’s one stone cold fro! So, now there’s only thing on Detroit’s mind…

2. Who’s coming with us?

The Cavaliers will have another chance to put away those pesky Nets but this time they are going to have to do it with an arena full of fans telling `em that they suck. Then again, some Cleveland fans were making it rain boos during the fourth quarter as the Cavs shot just 3-of-16 in the period and didn’t make a bucket in the final 6:58 of the game. If Jason Kidd can manage to give another Big O type effort then this series will most likely be headed to the most loved and feared prospect in the playoffs: Game 7. Kidd is just short of averaging a triple-double for the series (14.4 pts, 11.8 reb, 8.8 ast), but don’t feel bad for the guy; after all, he is averaging a triple dip over the entire playoffs. That’s an amazing average of 14.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 11.2 assists over an 11 game stretch! And so we don’t overlook his defensive production, we should also point out that Kidd is also 1.82 steals and .45 blocks per game. He’s a virtual human Swiss Army Knife.

3. And on the other side of the bracket
We know that the Utah Jazz are patiently awaiting the winner of the Phoenix/San Antonio series, but what we don’t know is if we are going to be witness to one or two more big time brawls before the West finals are set. The Suns fans are still pissed about the Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw suspensions for Game 5 in which the Spurs barely escaped Phoenix with victory and a 3-2 series edge, but obviously Mike D’Antoni and his staff are no longer concerned with the past. They can’t be; it’s time to win or go home as the old saying goes. The Spurs have got to be a bit worried after the Stoudemireless Suns almost bucked the odds because Steve Nash now has his favorite target back in the lineup which has got to be giving Gregg Popovich some serious stress headaches. Luckily, San Antonio will have the advantage of playing at home with a raucous crowd yelling at the top of their lungs. We just hope that they can come up with something a little more clever than “Dirty! Dirty!”

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Rasheed Wallace @ Chicago 39 min, 16 pts (FG: 7-14, 3FG: 2-8, FT: 0-1), 13 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk

Buzzer Beater: First the USA Basketball committee tried to put together a team of NBA superstars who were supposed to razzle-dazzle the international competition, but instead they just got exposed for the selfish hot dogers they were. So, then the masterminds decided that they would go after the hungrier, grittier ballers who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty against the scrappy Euros and other quickly acclimating squads. That’s a much better strategy than trying to assemble another Dream Team except for when those hardnosed guys decide to turn you down. Recently crowned defensive player of the year Marcus Camby told USA Basketball that although it was a great honor, he would not be able to accept their invitation to participate in the qualifiers for the 2008 Olympics. So, now where does the red, white and blue look for their presence in the middle? None of the superstars are walking through that door, to steal a phrase, and the lower tier Cambys and Brad Millers of the league have other agendas (family, rehab, vacation, rolling in money) and don’t want to be part of the humiliation that has become USA Basketball. That gold medal is just becoming more and more unrealistic with every day that passes.

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