Friday, May 30, 2008

Go With The 'Ston(e)s

Back in 2004, our good friend Cleveland Frowns was at a bar in O'Hare Airport during the Conference Finals. The Lakers/Timberwolves game was on TV, and Frowns sidled up to the bar next to exactly the type of sloppy drunk man great stories are made of. After a bit of small talk, Frowns asked who he liked in the series.

The man, ignoring the question, snarled, "Go with the 'Ston(e)s!"

From that moment on, Frowns rode the Pistons — ahem, the Stones —
straight through the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals, advising all his associate Savvy Sirs to do the same. He was rewarded, handsomely. Something about the guy not even answering his question, and pushing him toward Detroit, was too much for Frowns to take. Forget the talking heads — Frowns reads the tea leaves of everyday life to inform his picks. Everything is connected, and if everything is connected, how could he pass on the Stones after that? (Note: we don't just like this approach, we love it and condone it in all forms, for everything.)

So here is our advice: Go with the Stones.

After watching that fourth quarter in Boston, is there anyone who thinks the Pistons will lose tonight? The Pistons work like clockwork, and the Celtics, for all their talent, play a sloppy, disjointed brand of basketball. In the war of attrition, who's going to win: the self-confident, precise team or the team that can't figure out how to score in big spots? Take the Pistons in game 6 and the Pistons in game 7, and get ready for another Detroit/L.A. final.

This is an obvious departure from my pick of last week of Celtics in five, which I stuck to after Game 2 because the Pistons had to make literally every shot to beat the C's, and, sure enough, the C's whupped them in Game 3. But Game 4 was a complete embarrassment for the Celtics, as was the end of Game 5, and you're supposed to play like this less and less as the series goes on. The Pistons are the stronger team in every subsequent game for one reason: the maturation of Rodney Stuckey.

If my refrain at the beginning of the series was, "Who's going to get to the basket for the Pistons?" the answer is Stuckey. The guy gets to the hoop better than anyone on both teams. He also hits his shots, the only miscue being a missed foul shot late in Game 5. But seriously: if that game went on one more minute, the Celtics were toast. These knock-down, drag out games come down to who can get the foul calls and get to the hoop when it's close. Billups is good at that, but Stuckey can be the difference between a good Pistons team and a great one. He also could be the reason the Celtics are going home early.

But he's no Rip Hamilton.

Quite simply, the fourth quarter of Game 5 was a masterpiece for Hamilton. He hit everything, from anywhere. He shot with confidence, a confidence that the Celtics sorely lack. Health permitting, he'll do it again tonight, and he'll lead the charge to the Game 7 win either way. It seems inevitable. By the end of Game 5 no one on the Celtics could, or even seemed to be inclined to keep up with him. It's only going to get worse for them. So, for a final time: Go with the Stones.

1 comment:

Coachie Ballgames said...

a double-reverse schmoo?