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2004 NBA Legends Tour
|As part of 2004 NBA Legends Tour: Destination Finals, NBA legends Bill Russell, Julius 'Dr. J' Erving, Clyde Drexler, Moses Malone, George Gervin, Robert Parish, Artis Gilmore and Spud Webb, who have won a combined 18 NBA and three ABA championships, will showcase this year's Larry O'Brien trophy in NBA Playoff cities and some non-NBA cities for fan autograph and photo sessions, community projects and events, a series of NBA Playoff viewing parties, and, of course, at more than 30 Playoff games.|
The legends, who will travel more than 100,000 combined miles, will chronicle their experiences right here as part of the NBA.com Blog Squad.
Pacers-Pistons: The Ultimate Playoff Chess Match
Willis Reed: Detroit
Posted by Destination Finals - May 29 2004 9:26AM
One thing that is certain with the playoffs is the uncertainty. Just when everyone thought the momentum was clearly in Detroit's favor, Rick Carlisle pulled a surprise move and gave Austin Croshere his first ever start in the playoffs. The move paid off as Croshere responded scoring 14 points, hitting three three-pointers. His effectiveness from the outside forced Detroit's big defenders --- Ben and Rasheed Wallace --- out from the post, which opened up Indy's offense in the paint. As a result, the Pistons didn't block nearly as many shots as they had done in the first three games. Now, it's up to Detroit to counter Indy's move for Game 5 in this ultimate playoff chess match. It's a game Detroit really needs to win considering it's now a best two out of three series with two games being played in Indianapolis. Your move, Detroit.
One Step Away
George Gervin: Los Angeles
Posted by Destination Finals - May 28 2004 8:30AM
Too much Big Fella ... Too much Kobe ... Too much Fisher ... In a must-win situation, the Timberwolves now find themselves having to win the next three games to dig out of this massive hole and win the series. Tough task, especially against these Lakers ... You know what you're going to get with Shaq and Kobe but how about the play of Derek Fisher. Ever since he nailed the game winner with .4 seconds left versus San Antonio, he has been shooting with such great confidence, opening up the Lakers' offense. Even though Minnesota plays at home and has a lot of pride, I see the Lakers finishing it off on Saturday. If Indy bounces back against the Pistons and evens the series at two games, the Lakers could potentially have a nice little layoff if they take care of business on Saturday and won't that be a scary thought for either the Pistons or Pacers: a well rested Lakers team in the Finals.
Timberwolves show heart and character in Big Game 2 Victory
Robert Parish: Minneapolis
Posted by Destination Finals - May 24 2004 7:23AM
The talk was there. After the Game 1 victory, would the Lakers roll to another one in Game 2? Were the Timberwolves overmatched, especially since their was a good chance their leader and floor general Sam Cassell may not play? Well, give Minnesota a lot of credit. They fought back and came out with a lot of energy from the start of the game to tie this series. They set the tone while the Lakers were flat for much of the night. Shaq couldn't get on track and give the Timberwolves' defense a lot of credit for that. They were denying him the ball all night. Darrick Martin played well in Sam Cassell's absence with 15 points and six assists. The Lakers didn't decide until it was much too late to get mad and start matching Minnesota's energy level. The loss left a bad taste in the Lakers mouths and you get the sense they'll be playing with a lot more energy and aggressiveness in Game 3 on Tuesday. You can count on it. But the night belonged to the Timberwolves. Instead of folding like many thought they would, they showed their character and now we have a series.
Indy's Mr. Clutch Does It Again
George Gervin: Indianapolis
Posted by Destination Finals - May 23 2004 8:54AM
Are you really that surprised? When it comes to Reggie Miller, there aren't any surprises with him, especially during the playoffs. Not after 17 seasons of producing some of the greatest clutch baskets in NBA Playoff history. Miller once again selected the perfect time to come through for his team. His only basket, a three pointer with 31.7 seconds, proved to be the difference in the Pacers' Game 1 victory. So what if he didn't make a field goal before that basket? He came through when it counted and who else would you want taking the shot with the game on the line? No longer the focal point of the offense, Reggie understands and has embraced his role. His leadership has been huge in the development of Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest, Al Harrington, Jamaal Tinsley, the nucleaus of the Pacers. Overshadowed in Miller's heroics were the contributions of Jeff Foster, who made two great plays at the end of the game. If Game 1 was any indication, it wouldn't surprise me if this series goes the distance.
The Most Entertaining Series of Them All
Rick Barry: Sacramento
Posted by Destination Finals - May 13 2004 10:57AM
The Kings made it a little more difficult for themselves than they needed to. They had the game in control, and then got a little sloppy. They held Minnesota to 19 points in 21 minutes and then gave up 11 in three minutes, which would equate to a 44-point quarter, if you were to play that way the whole quarter, so they gave a little life to the Timberwolves. Had they not done that, they could have won the game pretty handily. But they responded and got the job done, probably the best defense I've seen the Kings play for a sustained period of time throughout the playoffs.
Even though they don't have home-court advantage over the final three games of the series, I give the Kings a great shot here. If you look at each game that's been played so far, Sacramento generally finds a way to do something pretty explosive at times, and they won this game without really getting a whole lot of offense from Stojakovic, and Bibby wasn't looking like himself for much of the game. Brad Miller was the hero of the game, along with Chris Webber, and they did a nice job. The thing is, they find a way not to have to play so hard playing against Latrell Sprewell, and conversely, I am shocked to see how hard Kevin Garnett has to work ? his teammates are doing nothing to help him. He's been having to do everything all by himself.
All of the series in this round have been competitive, but I'm surprised at how much of a factor that home court has been. I always thought it was easier to win on the road in the playoffs than the regular season, because the visitors understand that they must raise the level of their game in order to compete. The most surprising of all the series has been the New Jersey-Detroit semifinals, because there hasn't even been a good game in that one, everybody's blown everybody out on their own court. I'm intrigued to see whether or not they're going to have a really good competitive game for four quarters there.
But this Minnesota-Sacramento series, without question, I feel, has been the most entertaining series of them all, it's the closest of the series, as far as the competition goes. These teams battled it out in the regular season, also. This one peaks the interest.
Turning Up the Heat
Moses Malone: Miami
Posted by Destination Finals - May 13 2004 10:49AM
It was a great game, man. The Heat did what they had to do to bring it back here for a sixth game. Everybody knew it would be a six-game series, but Indiana made a lot of mistakes at the end. They got a little frustrated.
Right now, it's a best two-out-of-three series. It's a toss-up. Although I would give Indiana a slight edge since they are the top seed and have home-court advantage. If the Pacers put everything together, they can win the next two games. I do believe Indiana is a better team but you sense the confidence growing with the Heat. Can they pull off the upset? They believe they can.
The Heat fans were tremendous tonight, chanting, 'Go Heat Go!' throughout the game. It was loud tonight, man. They got it going on here. When you got the crowd behind you like this, it helps you play just a bit better, and that could make the difference in winning.
Best Two Out of Three ....
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Los Angeles
Posted by Destination Finals - May 12 2004 9:11AM
It's now a best out of three series ... Once again, the Lakers responded on their home floor and were able to get a surge in the third quarter and take the lead and that's all they needed. Kobe and Shaq led the way combining for 70 points and Kobe especially took care of business in the fourth quarter scoring 15...San Antonio came out and played a much better game than they did in Game 3, although they missed some key shots and the Lakers were able to get a lot of second-chance opportunities. After winning 17 consecutive games, the Spurs have now lost two in a row and must make the proper adjustments for Game 5 .. The momentum is clearly with the Lakers but as we have seen with these series, home-court advantage is huge ... This is going to be exciting to see how this series plays out ...
Location ... Location .... Location ....
Bill Russell: Los Angeles
Posted by Destination Finals - May 10 2004 10:21AM
The same saying that applies to businesses also applies to the NBA ... location, location, location ... The Lakers were certainly a different team playing at home on Sunday. They didn't play with a sense of desperation but rather they played the way they had to, with a sense of confidence and by working hard all afternoon. What was effective for them was their defensive approach to Tony Parker. After consecutive games of 20 and 30 points, the Lakers limited the third-year guard to only eight. The Lakers neutralized him by taking the ball out of his hands as much as possible with constant double-team coverage. One of the keys to winning playoff games is making the proper adjustments and we'll see how San Antonio responds to Game 4 on Tuesday. Do you they allow someone else to bring the ball up the court such as Manu Ginobili and then pass to Parker in the half court or do the Spurs keep things the same? ... The Lakers had their backs against the wall being down 0-2 but they didn't panic. I remember in the 1968 Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics were down 3-1 to the 76ers with two of the next three games in Philadelphia. We ended up winning all three. Our mindset: The next game is our last, so let's go win it. It was also a win or lose scenario for Game 7 of the 1969 Finals versus the Lakers. The game was in Los Angeles and I told my guys it was impossible for the Lakers to win at home and how they didn't have a chance. I knew we were going to win because I had made the necessary adjustments .. Never mind that in anticipation of victory, the Lakers had thousands of balloons high atop the Forum, which were ready to be released at a moment's notice ... Those balloons were just a conversation piece in reflecting upon that game. Although, I never did find out how they got them out...
A Special Destination Finals (School) Stop
Bob Lanier: Detroit
Posted by Destination Finals - May 8 2004 9:53AM
The Nets were back. Or at least so I thought. They way they came out in the first half reminded me of the team that advanced to the Finals the last two years. You saw the mental fortitude from the beginning of the game. They pushed the ball, created opportunities, finished on the break. I'm thinking, now we have a series. Detroit isn't going to manhandle them like they did in Game 1. Right? Well, then the second half started and I don't know what head coach Larry Brown told his players but they started the second half with a new focus. They simply shut the Nets down. Detroit looked like two different teams from the first and second half. Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace -- everyone stepped up in the second half. The Nets are really on their heels. On Tuesday, they have to prove not only to Detroit but to themselves that they can pull this thing together before it's too late ... My Destination Finals stop in Detroit wasn't only about basketball. I had the pleasure of visiting Grayling Elementary School in the morning to speak to grade school students about the NBA's Read to Achieve Program and the importance of reading. The kids were even familiar with my Li'l Dobber Scholastic book series because the school library has copies... The kids also got a kick out of my special guest that was with me that morning --- The Larry O'Brien Trophy. The kids had a ball looking at it, touching it. I asked the kids, 'Guys, what are some of the qualities of a team that can end up winning the trophy?' Now, keep in mind, this was a very astute group of young people. One little guy said sportsmanship. Another student said, 'You have to play hard and support one another.' Finally, a little girl said, 'Big Bob, I think you have to have really tall people.'
Detroit's D -- Desire
Spencer Haywood: Detroit
Posted by Destination Finals - May 8 2004 9:26AM
Attending the game last night as part of the Destination Finals Tour was great fun. I love playoff basketball, the intensity, the emotions, the boisterous crowd, everyone playing for one goal --- the Larry O'Brien Trophy. That being said, I must admit that I was a little bit concerned and disappointed about the New Jersey Nets and their overall effort in Game 2. After setting the tempo in the first half, the Nets seemed to give up in the third quarter and didn't follow through with their game plan. Their intensity appeared to be lacking. Was it fatigue? Was it their lack of depth? Perhaps, but to me, it really seemed like a lack of desire. The Nets weren't hustling for the ball and appeared to be going through the motions. The Pistons simply wanted it more and overwhelmed the Nets in the second half. Everyone understandably talks about Detroit's stifling defense but what seems to get overlooked is their tremendous desire. The desire to send a message to the Nets and the rest of the Eastern Conference that they're the team to beat. Detroit is also extra motivated to take care of business since the Nets swept them in last year's playoffs. Game 3 is obviously huge for the Nets. Unless they turn it around in New Jersey, the Nets are setting themselves up for a sweep.
No Such Thing as an Ugly Win
Bill Russell: Indianapolis
Posted by Destination Finals - May 7 2004 8:21AM
When I played, we always used to say that there is no such thing as an ugly win and I'm sure the Pacers are saying the same after winning Game 1. This was a very physical game ... I thought the Pacers looked rusty due to their 14-day layoff. The Pacers committed numerous turnovers in the first half while Miami may have been fatigued from their seven-game series versus New Orleans because they shot only 31 percent in the first half. Despite not shooting well, the Heat only trailed by 10 points. If Miami shot around 41 percent, they probably would have been ahead ... I remember when I played, we had some long layoffs between games and this may sound strange but you can get out of shape in that period of time. Your overall play is so fine tuned at the end of the regular season that any type of prolonged layoff between games take the edge off ... The Pacers were prepared for this game knowing they haven't played in a long time. They prepared knowing they might be a little rusty so they had to work that much harder on defense. I don't anticipate the Pacers being rusty for Game 2, which will be played on Saturday. I'm sure they'll be looking to establish some type of rhythm ... From Miami's perspective, they can at least be encouraged by the fact that they did outrebound the Pacers (47-39) and enjoyed a 14-0 fast break advantage ... It's funny, when you watch two really good teams play hard, it's dull. But this is the playoffs and the atmosphere was charged for Game 1 and I'm sure that will be the case for the next game in Indianapolis ... Before the game, I had had the pleasure along with NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik in presenting Ron Artest with the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award ... Ron certainly deserved the honor. Some guys think that defense is merely blocking shots, but you have to play man-to-man defense, guard against the weakside, rebound and play with all out tenacity and Ron did that.
Crucial Win for Spurs
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: San Antonio
Posted by Destination Finals - May 3 2004 7:12AM
I thought Game 1 was crucial for San Antonio because they have been off for a week and you have to get back in game mode and get your cohesion together, so it's important for the Spurs to take this one. They're certainly on a roll, winners of 16 straight, as Tony Parker provided a spark for the Spurs, using his quickness to the tune of 20 points and 9 assists. Duncan was big in the fourth quarter as the Lakers turned the ball over too many times in that period. The Lakers also missed Rick Fox who didn't play in Game 1. It will be interesting to see which team is able to win on the road. To me, that will be a strong indicator of how this series will go. While no one can replace David Robinson, Rasho Nesterovic did a nice job playing defense and added 10 points and six rebounds. Nesterovic comes to play every game and that's what important. We'll see how the Lakers respond in Game 2 as they look to tie it up before the series shifts to L.A.
Winner Take All
Bob Pettit: New Orleans
Posted by Destination Finals - May 3 2004 7:08AM
There will be a Game 7 and it doesn't get much better than that in the NBA Playoffs. Game 6 was an extremely hard-fought contest as the Hornets responded with their backs to the wall, facing the brink of elimination. The difference in the game for New Orleans was their front-line play of Jamaal Magloire, George Lynch and P.J. Brown. While Miami struggled from the field, especially in the first half, the Hornets' front line came through, dominating the boards and provided a balanced scoring attack. Baron Davis, who has been spectacular in the series, only scored 4 points in the first half as he was looking to get his teammates involved and ended up with 12 assists for the game along with 15 points. It was a balanced effort on his part while his backcourtmate David Wesley came through in the second half. To Miami's credit, they could have given up when they were down by 19 points or so, especially since they have a young team, but didn't and fought to the very end. As great as the fans were here in New Orleans, the Heat fans will also bring it on Tuesday night to do what they can in giving their team a true home-court advantage. It's going to be difficult for the Hornets to go there and win Game 7. They'll have to stay aggressive and not panic if they find themselves down. It's going to be a great game. It's what playoff basketball is all about.
Wild One in Miami; Doc and Beantown
Robert Parish: Miami
Posted by Destination Finals - May 1 2004 8:36AM
From the opening tip, this was an intense, physical game. You could sense that the series is winding down because every possession is so crucial. AmericanAirlines Arena was packed, with more than 21,000 fans screaming, 'Let's go Heat!' throughout the game. It's nice to see playoff basketball return to this city. Miami did a good job battling back, especially in the fourth quarter where Eddie Jones and rookie Dwayne Wade stepped up. Wade was a little erratic throughout the game but similar to Game 1, he came through down the stretch when he nailed the critical three-pointer to put the Heat up for good with 54.4 seconds. Now, Miami needs to figure out how to close this series out on the road. The game clincher is always the most difficult to accomplish and I'm sure the Hornets' fans will be out in full force on Sunday. It would not surprise me at all if this series goes to a Game 7. ... I must admit I was a little surprised when I heard that Doc Rivers was named head coach of the Celtics. I thought the team would have gone for more of a veteran coach. I think Doc is a good coach and he's demonstrated that in Orlando, winning Coach of the Year honors. Doc and Danny Ainge certainly have their work cut out for them. Doc is in a similar situation like he was in Orlando, he's facing a lack of talent. The Celtics need a point guard, power forward and a center. All the same things they needed before Danny made the deals in trading Antoine Walker, Eric Williams and Tony Battie. Doc should be able to lure some free agents to Boston but there are two negatives against the Celtics right now --- the weather and the fact they are not winning. Most free agents don't want to go to a situation like that. However, winning is the cure all and hopefully they can get them back on track.
It's All Even in the Big Easy
Rick Barry: New Orleans
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 28 2004 3:42AM
The Hornets pulled off a surprising victory to even up the series at two games apiece on Tuesday night. It was surprising because of the tempo they tried to play. I think everyone thought that the Hornets would try to slow the ball down and control the tempo and not get into a running game with Miami with their young athletic players and ended up actually outplaying them playing their style. Baron Davis was the difference in the game. Even though Stacey Augmon did a great job coming off the bench for New Orleans, you could tell that Baron was playing on a leg that you could see wasn't quite 100 percent yet still recorded a double double.
After Miami initially took a 2-0 lead and now with the Hornets coming back and winning the last two games, it is now a best two out of three series. A lot will depend on just how well Davis is able to play or whether the knee will act up on him. He has to have outstanding games for the Hornets to pull this series off. Personally, I think Miami will beat the Hornets. I think the Heat will respond in Game 5 in Miami and think that they should be going to Lamar Odom a lot more because the Hornets don't have anyone who can guard him. He creates so many problems that I'm surprised that the Hornets don't double team him and try to take the ball out of his hands. Miami is smoother and moves the ball well and unless Davis comes up huge for the Hornets, I like Miami's homecourt advantage for the rest of this series. The big question will be how will the young guys for Miami respond if the series goes seven? That will be the big factor because there were some guys that I saw Tuesday night that conveniently passed up a shot they normally would take during the regular season. That's what the playoffs are all about: Who is going to step up and play at the level you're capable of playing at and take the shots you supposed to take when everything is on the line? That's why I love the playoffs. I can't wait for Game 5.
On the Brink in Big D
Spud Webb: Dallas
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 27 2004 5:52AM
Tonight wasn't the Mavericks night on several fronts. The NBA's best free throw shooting team struggled from the line, missing 13 out of 33 attempts, didn't shoot well from the field and were outrebounded. It seemed that Sacramento wanted the game more than Dallas. Yet despite not playing well, the Mavs still had a chance to win the game at the end. Now the Kings get the Mavs where they want them for a possible Game 5 clinching situation at Arco Arena. The Mavs will be playing for their season, hoping to bring the series back to Dallas. Before the game, I saw why the Mavs fans are some of the best in basketball. There was a party atmosphere outside of American Airlines Center and one of my favorite parts of the pre-game festivities was the face-painting contest, where I had the opportunity to judge and pick some of the best faces. There's no doubt that the fans really love their Mavs. They're just hoping that tonight wasn't the last game of the season in which they can show their devotion.
Detroit's Game 4 Trophy Performance
Bob Lanier: Milwaukee
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 27 2004 4:50AM
The Milwaukee fans were fired up, hoping to see their beloved Bucks tie the series at two games apiece. Unfortunately for them, the Pistons proved how much depth and talent they have in winning Game 4 in convincing fashion at the Bradley Center. A team known for its great defense, the Pistons put 109 points on the board and allowed the Bucks only one field goal attempt per possession down the stretch, which was a tough way for them to get back into the game. The highlight for me on Monday was my pre-game visit at the Roger and Leona Fitzsimmonds Boys & Girls Club when I had the opportunity to show the kids the Larry O'Brien Trophy. My visit will probably be the first and only time these kids will have the opportunity to see up close what NBA players strive for during the postseason. I explained the attitude, the effort, the commitment and sacrifices that are necessary for players to have in winning basketball's ultimate prize. The trophy was also a big hit when I showed up at the arena for a pre-game pep rally. Fans were so excited to see the trophy as they lined up to take photos and celebrated the excitement of the Destination Finals Tour.
Grounded in Houston
Clyde Drexler: Houston
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 26 2004 4:46AM
The Rockets had their opportunities to win Game 4 but couldn't close the Lakers out as their experience simply proved too much. Even though the Lakers relinquished a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, they still managed to hang in there and didn't panic despite trailing by four points with under two minutes remaining in overtime. Karl Malone stepped up big time for the Lakers, scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He even had 20 before half time. Not bad for a 40-year-old man. The Rockets also had their problems closing out L.A. in Game 1 and even though they are down 3-1 in this series, they could easily be up 3-1. It's been that close of a series. I don't think this series is over, not with the young legs and energy of the Rockets. I expect this team to really compete in Game 5 and wouldn't be surprised to see them force a Game 6. These close games along with the overall playoff competition and intensity will serve the Rockets well in the future regardless of how they finish up this first round.
Mile High Support
David Thompson: Denver
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 25 2004 8:37AM
Playoff basketball and excitement is back in Denver! The crowd was unbelievable for Game 3 and it made all the difference for the Nuggets in their convincing victory over the Timberwolves. It was a long nine-year wait for playoff basketball to return to the Mile-High City but the fans were primed to provide the Nuggets with a boost. The team fed off the emotion and energy of the fans, outhustling and outrebounding Minnesota. Carmelo Anthony, Andre Miller and Marcus Camby set the tone in the first half and Earl Boykins sparkled off the bench in the second half. It was a great total team effort. It's always a lot easier playing at home when you have the crowd behind you.
Tonight was also special because it was a homecoming of sorts as Nugget greats Alex English, Fat Lever and Kiki Vandeweghe were all in attendance. We reminisced about McNichols Arena, Midwest Division titles and we're all proud of the team's performance. With the victory, the series now takes on a different shape with Tuesday's game looming as very big for both teams. If Denver can continue to ride the wave of momentum on Tuesday, then all of a sudden it's a best two out of three series. The fans will be out in full force Tuesday night. It should be another great environment to watch playoff basketball.
Demoralized in Boston
Robert Parish: Boston
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 24 2004 6:56AM
The Celtics were simply overwhelmed by the Pacers in all aspects in Game 3, suffering their worst home playoff loss in team history. Indiana has too much talent and depth for the Celtics as their second unit outplayed Boston's first team. In the second quarter, Indy set the pace with a 19-2 run and Boston never really recovered. The Celtics lacked in a lot of areas on Friday night--- poor defensive rebounding, too many turnovers and poor passing. Plus, they relied too much on shooting jumpers and didn't take the ball aggressively to the hoop. Fortunately, the Celtics didn't throw in the towel, which they easily could have, and even cut the deficit to 9 in the third quarter.
Even though Boston is down 0-3 in this series, they still have some positives to build upon as they soon will look toward the offseason. No one predicted that this current team would have made the playoffs. Expectations were rather low and they exceeded them. The front office will have to assess the team's needs and determine which players to re-sign and see who is out there that may be able to help them. This will no doubt be an important offseason.
Knicks: Missed Opportunities
Bill Bradley, New York
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 23 2004 4:45AM
The Knicks made a great comeback. I thought they played extremely well together. They just didn't have it at the end, they missed their free throws and couldn't convert when the Nets missed about seven or eight shots in a row. New Jersey only scored six points in the last four in a half minutes but Kenyon Martin made a big three-point play with about 30 seconds remaining. Even though the Knicks are down 0-3 in the series, I thought the way they came back was a real positive. The Knicks are coming along. Lenny Wilkens is a great coach but they still need to acquire some other players to complement Stephon Marbury. It didn't help that Allan Houston is injured in this series. They certainly have a team in the making.
Memphis Loves Their Grizzlies
Artis Gilmore: Memphis
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 23 2004 4:40AM
Tonight featured the ultimate playoff environment. The Pyramid was bursting with excitement as the Memphis fans were anxious for their first-ever Grizzlies home playoff game. Before tip off, my former Kentucky Colonels coach from the ABA, Hubie Brown, received the Red Auerbach Trophy for NBA Coach of the Year from Commissioner Stern and the place erupted. It was a special moment for Hubie. He is so deserving of that award, especially with the job he did in leading the Grizzlies to 50 victories this season.
I was fortunate to play under Hubie in the '70s. He's a terrific coach who does a great job of getting his point across. He is a great communicator who emphasizes fundamentals, especially with the younger players. I learned a tremendous amount about basketball from him. Hubie was one of my favorite coaches and if I had someone like him earlier in my career, who knows what might have been?
The Grizzlies played well tonight but they found out that it's difficult defeating the defending NBA champions. You're not allowed to make any mistakes and the Grizzlies found that out down the stretch when they made a couple of errors, which proved costly. One of the main reasons for their improved play tonight was the decrease in the number of turnovers, which totaled 34 in the first two games. Tonight, they had 7. I expect Game 4 to be a battle. The Grizzlies won't quit and the potential close-out game is always the most difficult. The Pyramid will be jumping on Sunday
George Gervin: Minneapolis
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 22 2004 6:23AM
The Target Center was filled to the rafters as the fans looked for the Timberwolves to jump out to a 2-0 lead and they certainly weren't disappointed tonight. In Game 1, it was Sam Cassell's 40 points and tonight it was Kevin Garnett's triple double and Latrell Sprewell's seven three-pointers that did the Nuggets in. There was an air of excitement as the players and fans sense that they could be on the cusp of something truly special this season.
It will be interesting to see how the Nuggets respond in Game 3 on Saturday in Denver. It's been a long time since Denver hosted a playoff game and the Pepsi Center will be jumping. It's a must win for the Nuggets on Saturday. The players didn't show any spirit tonight. They need to understand that when the playoffs come around, you need to be on top of your game. You can sense that players such as Carmelo Anthony are starting to realize that. This series is not over but the Nuggets need to make a stand on Saturday otherwise the Timberwolves will be on the verge of advancing in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
A King-Size Victory
Reggie Theus: Sacramento
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 18 2004 8:35PM
The Kings needed this win badly. There was an air of uncertainty surrounding the Kings as Game 1 was set to tip off, especially since they played so poorly down the stretch of the season. The questions lingered. Would the Kings continue to free fall now that the postseason started or would they play up to their capabilities? The Kings responded with a resounding yes, they're back. Their offense got going thanks to some great defensive plays, led by Doug Christie. Chris Webber provided an inspirational performance today, diving on the floor, taking control in the interior. This was a game he needed as much as this team. A lot of talk has centered on whether the Kings are better off without him since they did so well when he was out of the lineup. In the playoffs, you need your stars and if the Kings are to advance to the Finals and win it all, they'll need Chris. Even though the Kings won Game 1, this series will probably go the distance and if the Kings can maintain their defensive intensity like they did today, they should pull this series out. It's going to be fun to watch.
Detroit Department of Defense
Rick Mahorn: Detroit
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 18 2004 8:27PM
It was another defensive masterpiece by the Pistons. The Detroit D caused all sorts of havoc, forcing Milwaukee into turnovers as the Pistons capitalized and scored points off of those turnovers. Detroit didn't allow the Bucks to get into any kind of rhythm, suffocating them with their defense throughout the game. Defense is their motto. Detroit Department of Defense, these guys are really trying to emulate that. They know defense wins championships
This victory set a tone in this series. You're either going to have to come with your 'A' game, which the Pistons will come with every night, or it will be over with in a hurry. Looking ahead to Game 2, the Bucks will try to find a way to get Michael Redd open shots and good looks at the basket.
The Pistons are supremely confident. The addition of Rasheed Wallace has resulted in a 21-6 record since they acquired him. Barring any injuries, this team feels like they will make a good strong march to the Finals and win it. You don't get those opportunities to get to the Finals very often. The only player on the Pistons who has won a championship is Lindsey Hunter and that was when he was with the Lakers and Elden Campbell once went to the Finals in 1991 when was a member of the Lakers.
Because the Pistons are built around their defense, there has been a lot of talk and comparisons to the Pistons of the late '80s --- The Bad Boys. Well, it's two different teams. You can compare them to us but until they win a championship, it's just a comparison. I'm not knocking them, they're a very talented ballclub but until you win one, that's when the comparisons should really start.
George Gervin: San Antonio
Rolling to No. 12
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 18 2004 10:36AM
Destination Finals got off to a roaring start in San Antonio as the Spurs manhandled the Grizzlies and officially welcomed them to the postseason. The SBC Center was alive tonight as the Spurs won their 12th in a row. The motivation is certainly not in short supply in San Antonio, not with all of the attention on the other conference contenders. All season long head coach Gregg Popovich has said that this season's team is different from last year's championship team and he's right. However, there are six players remaining from last season's team who will dig in just a little extra in going for the team's second title in a row. Also, the legacy of Tim Duncan is still growing and I'm sure there is extra motivation for him to lead the rebuilt Spurs to a title in David Robinson's first year of retirement.
Hubie Brown has a done a great job coaching the Grizzlies to 50 regular-season wins and they certainly don't have any quitters on their team. Even though Memphis won the season series against the Spurs 3-1, they simply were overmatched tonight against a healthy Spurs squad, something that wasn't the case when they played each other during the season. In the blow-out victory, San Antonio not only made a statement to the Grizzlies but served noticed to the rest of the league: We're still the NBA champs and if you want the trophy, come and get it from us.
George McGinnis: Indianapolis
Setting the Pace in Game 1
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 17 2004 8:21PM
Conseco Fieldhouse was electric this afternoon. The intensity was off the charts. You could see it in the player's faces as they took the court. This wasn't the regular season, this was playoff basketball and the fans were fired up as well. For Hoosiers, basketball is a way of life and they had a lot to celebrate today.
The Celtics played a great first quarter but the tide seemed to change going into the second when the Pacers basically dominated and never looked back. It's important that Indiana not only wins this series but does so in convincing fashion for several reasons. First, the team is motivated to advance past the first round, something they haven't done in the last three years and even though they accumulated 61 wins, the most of any NBA team this season, they still fall under the radar in terms of national focus. They want to make a statement that they should be in the mix when discussing championship contenders. Instead, everyone is talking about the Lakers, Pistons, Kings, Spurs.
In the Eastern Conference, people are already giving it to the Pistons. I think the Pacers can beat the Pistons because they have improved tremendously in one area and that is their half-court offense. They now have a go-to guy in Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest is probably as good as an all-around forward as there in the game. Plus, the Pacers have a great bench and a great mix of people with playoff experience. I think this team has matured so much from last season and is going to blossom in these playoffs.
George Gervin: Dallas to San Antonio
The Ultimate Playoff Journey Begins
Posted by Destination Finals - Apr 15 2004 1:22AM
The NBA Legends 2004 Tour: Destination Finals got off to a glorious start at the Southwest Airlines Love Field Headquarters in Dallas. Hanging out with legends and good friends Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, Robert Parish, Clyde Drexler and Spud Webb was a great way to tip off this event as enthusiastic Southwest Airline employees filled the hangar and watched Moses and Artis christen the customized Finals plane before we boarded to fly to San Antonio, home of the 2003 NBA champion Spurs.... San Antonio is just the first stop of this two-month journey as we'll be bringing the Larry O'Brien Trophy around the country so fans and players can see up close what all 16 playoffs teams are playing for and we'll certainly be picking up other legends along the way as the Destination Finals picks up steam .... The trophy made its way to the SBC Center as we all watched the Spurs win their 11th game in a row to end the season as they defeated the Nuggets 93-67.... It was exciting that so many teams' fate lied in the balance tonight, the last day of the regular season. Whether it was the top three seeds in the West or the playoff matchups in the East, a lot came down to the wire.... We're in store for a terrific postseason.... There is nothing like the excitement of the NBA Playoffs and the run to the Finals and it appears to be pretty wide open this year. Although, it does seem to me that people have already forgotten that the Spurs won the title last year and once again seem to overlook them for serious consideration this year. Has there been a team out West that has played better down the stretch in these last 11 games of the regular season than the Spurs? .... This team lost Tim Duncan for 14 games during the regular season, retained only six players from last season's championship team yet still won 57 games.... Their first-round opponent, the Memphis Grizzlies, should be a tough opponent, especially since they took three out of four regular-season games against the Spurs. The Grizzlies seem to be banged up so we may be catching them at a good time. We'll see. Hubie Brown and Jerry West have done a great job in turning that franchise around. I can't wait for this weekend's matchup in San Antonio.... Buckle up tight, we're in for one heck of a ride!