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C&R: EAST FINALS EDITION

D-WADE TO PLAY
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on June 2, 2006 8:05 p.m. ET

You've read that Dwyane Wade missed this morning's shootaround because of the flu ...
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

But, he's out on the court, going through the motions and intent on playing in a game the Heat really needs to win (see below).

Playing ill isn't, in itself, unprecendented. After all, M.J.'s performance in the 1997 Finals ranks 17th among the Greatest Playoff Moments.
-- [NBA.com]

But, be careful Mr. Wade. You don't want to drink too much, as was the case earlier in these Playoffs.
-- [Miami Herald]

THE PRESSURE IS ON ... BUT ON WHOM?
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on June 2, 2006 11:30 a.m. ET

That, there, is what the Pistons are playing for tonight. Nope, that ring doesn't belong to one of the Wallaces or any other player. It's the jewelry of one Pistons' staffer, awarded after the team captured the 2004 title. You see, there's more to winning a championship than just the play of 12 uniformed athletes or the diagramming abilities of four or five guys in suits. A championship is also won behind the scenes -- by the men and women selling tickets, designing marketing materials, building websites and so on.

The Pistons Director of Strategic Communications, Dave Wieme, said as much in an e-mail to the organization's employees before Game 5 at The Palace.
-- [Pistons.com]

He shared that e-mail with Detroit Bad Boys yesterday.
-- [DetroitBadBoys.com]

And while Wieme called on the employees to make a little noise in their own house, there's very little the staff can do but cheer from home as their team goes to work nearly 1,500 miles away. Some might even resort to prayer.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

But all they can do now is watch and see.
-- [Detroit News]

But, not everybody is a Pistons fan ...
-- [Washington Times]

... Especially those with year-round tans, those Miami voices belonging to the Heat's fans and staff, most of whom will be decked out in white.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

What could have those Heat fans perspiring a bit -- and not from the temperature on Miami Beach, expected to reach 85 degrees today -- is the fact that the Pistons don't give away too many Game 6s.
-- [Weather.com, Detroit Free Press]

For the Heat, it's not what the Pistons will give, but the bite the team is planning on taking.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

And this Game 6 is different than before.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

UNDER PRESSURE

You've probably heard some say the pressure is on the Heat, but wonder how that can be so when it's the Pistons who face elimination, right?
-- [Palm Beach Post]

As Dave Hyde writes, Game 6 could be Miami's "biggest smile at a Heat game or worst feeling ever."
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

That, folks, equates to pressure. And that pressure is possibly magnified in the Heat players' minds with the looming fear of returning to the Detroit suburbs.
-- [Miami Herald]

Then again, Dwyane Wade says he isn't feeling any.
-- [Detroit News]

Others realize both teams feel the pressure and don't figure it will play into tonight's decision.
-- [Detroit News]

But, as Chuck Daly knows, "The hardest game to win in the playoffs is the last one."
-- [Detroit News]

KEYS TO THE GAME

Shaq?
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Mr. Big Shot?
-- [Boston Globe]

Big Ben?
-- [New York Daily News]

'Sheed?
-- [Detroit News]

'Zo?
-- [Toronto Star]

Prince?
-- [L.A. Times]

Riley or Flip?
-- [SI.com]

STAYING ALIVE
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on June 1, 2006 12:30 p.m. ET

Well, at least now the Pistons can say they're playing in June ... but somehow I don't think a must-win Game 6 in Miami isn't what most have in mind when hearing such a statement.

Still ... the Pistons live to see another game.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

That next game could be their last. Detroit's dropped three of four this season in South Beach -- their only win coming in April in a regular-season meeting.

In that game, Rasheed Wallace hit the magical 20-point mark -- Detroit is 12-0 in the playoffs the last three years when Wallace contributes 20-plus.
-- [NBA.com]

After the win, Chauncey Billups said, "We take a lot of pride in being a good road team." Lately, they've only shown they can be a good road team when forced to be.

Take the previous series vs. Cleveland, for example. Detroit dropped the first two at the Q and then Game 5 at home to fall behind by the same count they now find themselves. Needing a win to avoid elimination, the Pistons got 24 points from Rasheed to eke out a two-point win and force a decisive game in their own gym.
-- [NBA.com]

Go back further, to last year's Finals vs. the Spurs. After dropping the first two games on the road in San Antonio, Detroit had the chance to sweep three straight on their home court, but Rasheed Wallace slacked off Robert Horry and you know the result of that ... But, Detroit bounced back with a tough Game 6 win in Texas, but couldn't repeat the feat two nights later in Game 7.
-- [NBA.com]

Before that, Detroit fell behind to Miami 3-2 in last year's Conference Finals, only to capture Game 6 at home and then Game 7 on the road. Some will continue to note that Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal were injured, but I'll counter that it may not have mattered much because we're definitely seeing a trend here.
-- [NBA.com]

Need another example? Well, I'm rolling, so you're getting one: During the 2004 Conference Semis, Detroit dropped a triple-overtime contest at home against the Nets to fall behind 3-2, only to capture Game 6 in New Jersey and wrap up the series at home in Game 7.
-- [NBA.com]

The Detroit News ran a chart today on the team's success when facing elimination.
-- [Detroit News]

That trend I mentioned a moment ago: The Pistons play well with their backs to the wall. Some might even say they prefer to be the underdogs, having people tell them what they can't do only to prove the detractors wrong. As Richard Hamilton says of the players' motto, "If it ain't rough, it ain't right."

Well, now the situation is rough for both teams and even the most skeptical fans are forced to believe that anything is possible with this squad.
-- [Detroit News]

But, as Mitch Albom points out, the Pistons shouldn't play like this only when given no alternative.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

For one night, all that bickering about the team practicing too much on offense and not enough defense was put aside. The players seemed to remember that when they can't get it done on offense, they turn to their trademark defense. They hadn't been doing that until last night.
-- [New York Daily News]

And no matter what, the Pistons can't scrap that defensive mentality, even if they have to become more offensive minded.
-- [Detroit News]

As for that finger pointing ... the team is still tight, even if they don't always see eye-to-eye.
-- [Detroit News]

So, if the Pistons can figure it out one more night and steal Game 6 in Miami, I'm inclined to believe they'll win this series.

But, that's a big "if" and there are a few reasons that it isn't likely to happen.

Two of those are named Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. Don't think they'll come up with similar performances on Friday.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

The team as a whole isn't bound to once again emulate Shaq from the charity stripe. Only Jason Williams, who hit his lone attempt, connected on better than 50 percent of his free-throw tries in Game 5.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Mason won't be resonating from the rafters of the American Airlines Arena.
-- [Miami Herald]

Of course, none of those reasons diminshes the pressure the Heat now faces in Game 6.
-- [Miami Herald]

Game 6 could go to the Pistons if they again play beautifully, but one blogger doesn't think that will happen.
-- [True Hoop]

If it does, excuse Miami fans for panicking.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

ONE (LOSS) AND DONE
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 31, 2006 12:45 p.m. ET

A moment of silence, please, as we pay our respects to the past successes of the Detroit Pistons ...

Those successes will certainly be a thing of the past if the Pistons can't find a way to win at home tonight.
-- [USA Today]

Last year, as the Pistons defeated the Heat, the talk was about the injured Heat players. This year, the Pistons might just have to admit that, yes, the Heat is the better team regardless of regular-season record.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

Staving off elimination looks highly unlikely, based on the team's play since Game 3 vs. Cleveland and now all of the team's internal turmoil.
-- [Detroit News]

All of that finger pointing is spreading beyond the players and coaching staff, too.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

But one fact makes Heat fans nervous: The Pistons aren't dead yet. Detroit just needs to make the necessary adjustments and find a way to band together one more time if it wants to continue playing beyond tonight.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Detroit Free Press]

The team insists it hasn't given up and one local scribe is calling for the same from the fans.
-- [Detroit News]

A key to the team's success in Game 5 -- and our Fantasy success -- will be Chauncey Billups, who must remain cool under the pressure of his back to the wall.
-- [NBA.com, USA Today]

Of course, that pressure is going to be intense from the Heat players, namely Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal, who watched the Pistons celebrate on their own court last year.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

The Heat wouldn't mind re-paying the favor.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

However it happens, Dwyane Wade just wants to see his team beat the Pistons.
-- [Miami Herald]

Such determination could have Wade joining some pretty distinguished company in the history books.
-- [USA Today]

History is what Antonio McDyess' championship hopes could be after tonight.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

Of course, if Miami can't put away the Pistons tonight, it leaves the door slightly ajar.
-- [Detroit News]

MIAMI HEATING UP FOR FINALS BERTH
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 30, 2006 11:45 a.m. ET

Trouble in paradise? It sounds that way.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

Here, listen (and by listen, I mean, read) for yourself:

There's Rasheed Wallace -- not making guarantees, but letting his actions do his talking.
-- [Detroit News]

The other Wallace wasn't blaming officials.
-- [Detroit News]

A lot more people, including Mike Wilbon, will be on Ben's side if the Pistons drop one more to the Heat and fail to make the Finals.
-- [Washington Post]

The coach has an answer to those critics wearing red, white and blue.
-- [Detroit News]

Regardless who the Pistons blame, they're in real trouble.
-- [Detroit Free Press, Detroit News]

Or, maybe you prefer 'hot water'.
-- [Detroit News]

Some would just say they're finished.
-- [FOXSports.com]

No matter, this ending for the team that started the season 37-5 can only be termed a collapse.
-- [SI.com]

One that could have Saunders feeling a different kind of heat.
-- [MLive.com]

So, with one more loss, or more appropriate, another Heat win, Miami moves on to a place many believed was reserved for the Pistons.
-- [USA Today, South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

There, Pat Riley can add to his legend.
-- [Miami Herald]

TIP INS

Alonzo Mourning isn't wasting any time ... or this opportunity for a ring.
-- [Washington Post]

You don't want Shaq knocking on your door ...
-- [New York Post]

ALL EVEN AT ONE
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 26, 2006 11:45 a.m. ET

Despite Detroit winning Game 2 to even the Eastern Conference Finals at one game apiece, one of the first things I hear this morning from a co-worker who knows his share of hoops is that the Pistons won't make it to the Finals.

Now, this could be the result of him just looking at the boxscore and seeing a four-point victory. But, I doubt it.

Likely, he watched like the rest of us as the Pistons built a double-digit fourth-quarter lead.
-- [Detroit News]

Only to blow it.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Two things contributed to that big lead:

1. Ben Wallace became a factor. So, forget what we said about him yesterday (see below).
-- [Detroit Free Press]

2. The Heat was pretty much a non-factor -- at least, for three quarters.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

So now the series is even, but do we have any clue who might take this thing and advance to face the Mavs or Suns?

No. Although Jermaine O'Neal seems to be in Miami's corner.
-- [Miami Herald, Detroit News]

You can say the Pistons were tired in their loss in Game 1, as they did. It couldn't have anything to do with what the Heat did in that game, could it?

Ask Dwyane Wade.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Game 2 was more about what these guys didn't do.
-- [Miami Herald]

Which left a lot of work for -- and time for some to watch -- Shaq and Wade.
-- [Detroit News]

MOTOWN WITHOUT SOUND

I have one to add to this list: The Way You Do The Things You Do ... I believe Detroit's way was with a backhoe.
-- [Miami Herald, NPR.org]

THIS LITTLE PIGGY ...

... went to film school. (See the very last item.)
-- [Detroit Free Press]

BOXING OUT

Good form for a 66 year old.
-- [ESPN.com]

DETROIT LOOKS TO EVEN SERIES
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 25, 2006 11:30 a.m. ET

Game 2 is tonight. Any predictions? Here are a few keys for Detroit to even the series.
-- [Detroit News]

Some are thinking Detroit's defense will be a little, um, different in Game 2.
-- [Palm Beach Post]

DON'T WORRY ...

I liked the original by Bobby McFerrin better.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

The attitude of not being worried ... some are reading it as smugness.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

BUILT FORD TOUGH

These five run longer than the cars built in their namesake city.
-- [New York Times]

But it leaves some sitting by the side of the road.
-- [Detroit News]

WHEN FASHION TRENDS DIE

I might still have one of these in a closet at my parents house.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

PUT IT IN WRITING

We get it straight from Chris McCoskey: The Pistons just aren't on the same page. See what he says about the shots they're taking.
-- [Detroit News]

Getting good looks starts with the team's point guard.
-- [Detroit News]

Of course, for all the talk about the team missing shots, they could knock down more if they took them closer to the bucket.
-- [Palm Beach Post]

TALE OF TWO 'SHEEDS

Wallace is much different off the court.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

FILE THIS UNDER "OBVIOUS"

Dwyane Wade is good.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

If the Pistons defense finds a way to slow Flash, the Heat has a plan.
-- [Miami Herald]

And if the Pistons can't slow him, more people will learn his name when the Heat make The Finals.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

HEAT STRIKE FIRST
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 24, 2006 5:00 p.m. ET

So, was this a sign of one team asserting its dominance over another? Or another team being dead tired after fighting a rising young star for seven games?

Whatever it is, the Pistons missed a golden opportunity.
-- [Detroit News]

Instead, they let a 37-year-old backup beat them.
-- [Palm Beach Post]

Which obviously means you didn't bring your A-game.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

It seems the Pistons are also having trouble with their B-game. B, as in Ba-Ba-Ba-Ben Wallace.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

Of course, Ben always has trouble here.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

The team's struggles translated to C's and D's.
-- [Detroit News]

At least D was to be found there because one writer didn't see any on the court.
-- [Lansing State Journal]

Speaking of courts, the Heat stole homecourt advantage. That may not mean much against this team, as the Heat learned last year when it lost in Game 7 on its own floor.
-- [Palm Beach Post]

But that was last year and right now, the Heat are taking the Pistons to school.
-- [Detroit News]

THESE DREAMS GO ON WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES

Such premature thinking could keep a golden trophy just a dream.
-- [Miami Herald]

DISTANCE RUNNERS

Many are still thinking this series could last seven games. The shots won't always be errant ...
-- [Detroit News]

... as they were in Game 1.
-- [MLive.com]

And the Pistons are bound to get their energy back.
-- [Detroit News]

HAS & HAB

Riley's only done it once, but could employ the old Hack-a-Ben strategy.
-- [MLive.com]

But Flip could counter with Hack-a-Shaq.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

PUT IT ON MY BILL

See the second-to-last entry.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

IT'S ON!
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 23, 2006 11:30 a.m. ET

A COMBINED 35 YEARS EXPERIENCE ...

And 18 fouls to give.
-- [Detroit News]

Expect Dale Davis to use up some of his as his team puts his inches and pounds to work.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

WHERE TO SPEND 'EM?

Here's two sizable pieces of real estate.
-- [Washington Post]

RESPECT COMES IN ALL FORMS

If it comes from the opposing players, it certainly doesn't from opposing beat writers. See Rob Parker's seventh sentence.
-- [Detroit News]

See, also, Drew Sharp's third paragraph.
-- [Detroit Free Press]

THE PRICE OF THAT OIL ...

... it's going up. Riley's value, some believe, has slipped.
-- [USA Today]

RE-PAYING THE FAVOR

Miami scribes are on it. See Le Batard's entry on Rasheed Wallace.
-- [Miami Herald]

SO, LET THE TALK BEGIN ...

Shaq got an early start.
-- [Miami Herald]

CLASS OF 2003

Its members continue to attack the Pistons D.
-- [Detroit News]

This time, one is a year older.
-- [Miami Herald]

SECOND TIME AROUND

That one year doesn't dull any memories of the teams' first meeting.
-- [Detroit News]

SO, LET THE PREDICTIONS BEGIN ...

This one isn't of the "homer" variety.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

PISTONS-HEAT, PART II
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 22, 2006 11:30 a.m. ET

MATCHUP MADE IN GAME SEVEN

It's the matchup most expected, but almost didn't get.
-- [NBA.com]

The Heat has been sitting back, patiently awaiting an opponent.
-- [Miami Herald]

WORTH THE WAIT?

Some are happy to see the Pistons return.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

NO EXCUSES

There were plenty last year, but Riley's having none of that talk.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

HAVE YOU HEARD THIS ONE?

You probably don't want to repeat this question: "Pat, do you think your team can beat Detroit?"
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

REST VS. RUST

Can the Heat steal homecourt advantage from the weary Pistons?
-- [Detroit News]

That remains to be seen in Game 1 Tuesday.
-- [Detroit News]

Block or foul? Either way, the Pistons pulled within a game of the Heat.
(Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
QUICK QUOTE
Heat coach Pat Riley on his team's Game 5 loss with the chance to close out the series:

"When we went ahead 3-1, you get three bites to the apple basically and, usually, on the first one you want to gobble the whole thing if you can. But we didn't."
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

2005-06 ARCHIVE
Conf. Finals -- Suns-Mavs
Conf. Semis. -- Pistons-Cavs
Conf. Semis. -- Heat-Nets
Conf. Semis. -- Spurs-Mavs
Conf. Semis. -- Suns-Clippers
May 5 -- The Wait Continues
April 28 -- One for the Little Guy
April 19 -- Still Mostly Cloudy
April 14 -- You Can Do Magic
April 6 -- Work to be Done
Mar. 31 -- Will Suns Rise?
Mar. 24 -- Artest Fit For A King
Mar. 17 -- Almost Doesn't Count
Mar. 10 -- A Magical Game
Mar. 3 -- Revenge of the Herds
Feb. 13 -- The Heat is On
Feb. 10 -- Left Out in the Cold
Feb. 3 -- We're Going Streaking!
Jan. 27 -- Trade Winds Blow
Jan. 23 -- Points a Plenty
Jan. 20 -- Give the King a Break
Jan. 13 -- Who's the Man?
Dec. 1 -- Welcome Back, Larry
Nov. 17 -- League Pass Surfing
Nov. 10 -- Setting OWGs Straight
Nov. 4 -- Season Underway
Oct. 27 -- The Central Is Stacked
Oct. 19 -- All Dressed Up
Oct. 14 -- LeBron Out Of Hospital
2004-05 -- Archive
2003-04 -- Archive