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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rivalry Renewed: The 2008 Eastern Conference Finals

Posted by TADOne

The Date was May 23rd, 1987, and the scene was the Pontiac Silverdome. The Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics were battling in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Celtics up in the series 2-0. The Celtics Savior, Larry Bird, drove the lane and Bill Laimbeer straight up mugged Larry Legend and dropped him to the floor on his ass. Bird went absolutely ballistic. Both players were ejected, and a rivalry was ignited.

To hell with the Lakers vs. Celtics, the real blood rivalry in the late 80’s was between the Bad Boy Pistons and their Beantown counterparts. These two teams absolutely despised each other and good sportsmanship went right out the window when they played. These were the golden days of the NBA.

The current construction of these two teams meeting in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals has no bad blood, but plenty of intriguing subplots. In the honor of the changes from then until now, we decided to attack this preview differently, doing a spontaneous roundtable discussion of each blogger on this site to get their input and feel on this series.

Ok, I’m reloaded!


I think I should ref this since I have nothing of value to add. (Note: I should mention that AR did NOT ref anything and he really didn’t have anything of value to add. We believe that he was drunk at the time- TADOne)

Tariq al Hayder:

I hope the Celtics win, but I've been shocked with their play thus far. I thought they'd waltz into the ECF with two sweeps or five-game series. I thought they were going to dominate the Leastern Conference. I thought they had THREE all-stars. What's the deal?

On the flip side, I sometimes think that maybe these early struggles will do them some good. I mean, let's face it, it would have been a disaster if they had lost to Atlanta or even Cleveland, but now against Detroit, I think there's a lot less pressure to win. Don't get me wrong, there's always pressure in the playoffs, but there's a difference between playing as the prohibitive favorite and playing against an equal opponent.

As for Detroit, after ridiculing them early in the Philly series, I have to say they've impressed me: since going down 1-2 to the Sixers, they've gone 7-1, even though Billups twisted his butt cheek or something.

So I guess I know Detroit will be formidable, but I have no idea what to expect from Boston. They are potentially a better team than Detroit, but they could be a terrible team.

Cheryl (ASPOV):

Can I say “meh”? No? Okay:
“Big Three”—check

Experience—getting it now
“Big Three”—check

I really do think this series will boil down to the coaches. Can Doc or Flip inspire their respective teams to greatness? The intensity will already be there, but which coach will be able to channel his teams’ intensity into a belief that there’s no way they’re gonna lose this game, series? I’ve seen both coaches panic a little on the sidelines and blow rotations. When I watch Popovich and Jackson guide their teams during critical junctures in highly pressurized games, I see no panic, just calm demeanor and perfect adjustments. They (adjustments) may not always work, but they never seem to be standing on the sidelines with their fingers crossed hoping the play they just called will work out.

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure about either one of them, so I’ll go with Doc. It’s a coin toss, really.


My feeling on Detroit/Boston is this:

During the 3 games they played during the regular season, each team won on the others home court, but Boston bested Detroit in the 3rd game, but in reality all the games were closely contested. Since they last played, the makeup of each team has shifted some, with Rodney Stuckey playing a bigger role now, Theo Ratliff added, and Lindsey Hunter activated for the playoffs. As for Boston, Leon Powe has a much bigger role off the bench, Eddie House looks to getting more of Sam I Am's burn, and PJ Brown is a formidable veteran off the bench.

Other than that, there is no secrets for either team. Both teams will rely on their defense to carry them, and Boston will look for Perkins and Rondo to play consistent off of their Big 3. The Pistons are still highly reliant on their starters, although the regular rotation bench players of Maxiell, Stuckey, and Hunter should get plenty of burn.

So far in the playoffs, Boston has looked very beatable and average, except when they are at home. For a team that had the best record on the road during the regular season, they appear as though they get a case of the hives away from the Garden in the playoffs. On the flip side (pun intended), the Pistons have looked down right scary since going down 2-1 against the Sixers in round 1, and seem to have gotten their complacency scared right out of them.

Bottom line: Both teams play to the level of their opponents a good amount of the time, so I expect both teams to be fired up and ready to play. Detroit's experience looms large, as they can close out road wins that the Cavs and Hawks could not. I expect this series to go 7 games, and I expect the Pistons experience to pull out an epic game 7.


Here's the rub. I think the Celts have been SOOOOO overly predicted to be great this postseason that their struggles against "lesser" opponents in the Hawks and Cavs have been uber-magnified, leading to two very difficult 7 game series. Conversely, the Pistons have been here before, like this role as the "underdog" and are lying in wait. The thing is............I don't think that Ray Allen and KG are going to be quite as insignificant in this series as the last. KG matches the Sheed-Intense/Craziness, Tayshaun will give Paul some problems, but Paul has a way of getting off when need to (see Game 7 vs. Cavs). It's going to be epic, it's going to have heated moments, and I think somewhere an odd turn of events (a one game suspension for a flagrant, a tweaked knee) will turn this series.

It would be nice to know who that will effect, but somehow (and I hate to say it) I think the Celtics will figure out a way to get by. Why? Because as they've shown on two separate occasions in these playoffs, at the moment of truth, their "team" has found a way, not just one guy. The Pistons have played that style for so long, that I think the hunger the Celtics have will override the experience that the Pistons will rely on in crunchtime. Plus, if the Lakers can hold up their end of the deal, expect a favorable turn from the officials every game for the Celtics as to revisit Lakers/Celtics for the 21st Century, David Stern will make this happen.

Breaking it all down:

While I’m quite sure we didn’t break any new ground with our discussion, each person (except AR) added something interesting with their take on the series. The bottom line is that everyone, from the critics to the average fan, expected this Eastern Conference Finals matchup since the beginning of the season. The same critics and fans are anticipating an epic showdown, and these two teams should not disappoint.

Let’s get the bad blood boiling again!


Eboy said...

I don't know who broke this down and put it all together (izzo?)but very well done. Also, we need to get the Western preview done, STAT.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Good job, TAD.

TADOne said...

Thanks ya'll. Of course, i'm blaming this on jinxing my team last night. Well this and the fact we were playing 'hot potato' with the rock. Ugh.

ASPOV said...

I don't know, but I went to sleep on that game and it wasn't even a late game for me. For some strange reason, I really have no interest in this series. I checked for fever, but I don't have one. I just can't get up for it. I am looking forward to Lakers/Spurs tonight, though. So all hope is not lost...

DP said...

one of my favorite blogs of the morning now that I'm out of school for the summer. great job again yall.

TADOne said...

Cheryl is a hater. I'm not even sure how a Heat fan can talk crazy about a playoff series?? All good, I still got love for ya Cheryl. And thanks for the love again, DP. Be sure to update your blog as well.

Eboy said...

The Pistons, as I so rightly predicted will fall short to a properly motivated, finally intune Celtics team. I hate it TAD, but if the Piston's don't pull Game #2, I think it end's in 6.

TADOne said...

I'm silently dreading game 2 right now, but Detroit should be fine. Everyone played bad, and that won't happen again. I DO know that I need to switch up my watching habits for this next game to get good karma back on my side. So yeah, i'll probably be drinking.

Eboy said...

And we need game notes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's worked pretty well so far.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Man, why are sports fans so superstitious? I was talking with Holly the other day and she also has these weird habits.

The next time Allen Iverson has a shot at a ring, I'll fart towards the north/northeast in order to re-direct the pollen which will fertilize the wind, causing AI's opponents to suffer from severe allergies.

TADOne said...

I'm really not superstitious Tariq, I just like to drink.

Young Bear said...

Now y'all know why it is so hard to get stuff posted on a consistent basis.

Where's that WEST piece!?!?

E, i know you work in law, so do you know of Courthouse News Service?

TADOne said...

It's coming Cub. In the final stages as we speak.

Eboy said...

Getting pressured from a SLAM guy. Love it!!!!!! Yeah, Cub, I know CNS.

Young Bear said...

They are who I get my every two-weeks writing money from.

Consistent scratch, super easy writing (while I diversify my game)and the flexibility to work on SLAM stuff, hang with my daughter, etc..... Not the stuff I want for life (obviously, I have another love I want to pursue)but has been a cool gig.

I am

Eboy said...

That's pretty fuc*ing cool, Cub. Now I have someone to keep my eye out for!!!!!

TADOne said...

That sounds like a good gig Cub. I know I probably missed it somewhere, but what is your 1st love?

Young Bear said...

TAD, other than my wife and daughter, my love is hoop. I am hoping to continue with what I am currently doing, but always exploring every possibility within the game.

on a side note, I just got back from a root canal.

Fridge full of Pacificos?
Good night, wake me when the Spurs/Lakers starts

Young Bear said...

oh yeah, TAD, your boys were nice last night.
I want to kill off the C's, but they were one of (if not, THE) best road teams during the regular season. Yes, they have been brutal in the postseason, but.....

TADOne said...

Indeed Cub. I'm not writing off the C's at all. I know a lot of people are, but they are still that team that ran thru the 'Texas Triangle' during the season. Also, the milk carton ad worked because someone found Ray's game.

TADOne said...

Channeling my inner De La Soul: "Stakes is High!"