The NBA Finals are even, tied 2-2. That’s kind of funny when you consider that the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs are playing the most lopsided Finals series in history.
The Pistons beat the Spurs in Game 4 Thursday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and that’s an understatement. Annihilated might be a better word. Demolished. Smoked. Slaughtered. The final score was 102-71. It was the biggest rout in a series of routs.
The Spurs looked awful on offense, which great defense will make you do, and the Pistons were playing great defense. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili looked ordinary. The Pistons turned the ball over a record-low four times, dominated in transition on both sides of the ball, and got 17 points from Lindsey Hunter.
No fair if Lindsey Hunter’s going to score 17 points. That’s just not in the ground rules.
For the next few days, before Game 5 Sunday night in Detroit, we’re going to hear all about how the Spurs are in trouble, how they look like they don’t have the answers for what the Pistons are doing to them and are in danger of being run out of the playoffs in four straight.
These are the same Spurs who had enough answers for the Pistons to win Games 1 and 2 by plenty, causing the commentariat to say that the Pistons were in trouble, that they looked like they didn’t have the answers for what the Spurs were doing to them and were in danger of being run out of the playoffs in four straight.
In other words, what’s happening at the moment is what’s going to keep happening, except when it doesn’t, as in Game 3.
I don’t know what’s happening, exactly.
It could be that those first two Spurs routs happened because San Antonio was well-rested and Detroit was coming off a rough seven-game series win over Miami, the Pistons only recovering when they got back home Tuesday night.
It could be that Ginobili’s bruised thigh, injured in Game 3, has slowed him down enough to make him a non-factor. It also could be the Pistons’ defense, which has packed into the lane, preventing him and Tony Parker from getting to the rim and repeatedly swatting the ball away from Duncan.
It could just be that the Pistons are the better team and it took them a couple of days to wake up and play their game. I don’t think that’s it. I didn’t think the Pistons were really as bad as they looked in the first two games, and I don’t think the Spurs are as bad as they’ve looked in the last two.
I’ll keep saying it: One of these games here, both teams are going to show up on the same night. Maybe it’ll be Sunday night. Detroit is daring the Spurs to win from the perimeter, and the Spurs can win that way. They need Brent Barry to take more than two shots, they need to shoot better than 37 percent, and they need to hang on to the ball. They can do those things.
Through four games, there’s been ridiculously little drama. The combined margin of victory has been 84 points, the most ever in the first four games of an NBA Finals. The old record was 78 points, set by the Portland Trailblazers and Philadelphia 76ers in 1977.
That series had a close game, Philly winning the opener at home by six points. The Sixers won Game 2 by 18 — no doubt leading to the commentariat discounting the Blazers’ chances — before Portland went home and took over. The Blazers won Game 3 by 22 and Game 4 by 32 — no doubt leading to the commentariat discounting the Sixers’ chances.
Portland won Game 5 in Philadelphia by six, then Game 6 at home by two. Sometimes the commentariat’s right.
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Why is this how a heart breaks? [PERMALINK]
ABC’s broadcasts of the NBA Finals all start with a video of a song called “This Is How a Heart Breaks” by Rob Thomas. I find this extremely interesting, and not because I find the song interesting.
During last year’s NBA Finals the theme song was “Let’s Get It Started” by Black Eyed Peas. Its ubiquity aside, the song was, for obvious reasons, a good way to start a broadcast. As a viewer, you could say, “Makes sense. They used an appropriately upbeat song with a theme that fits the moment.” You know, getting started.
You could think of “Let’s Get It Started” as playing the same role in sports that the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” did a generation ago.
But how does “This Is How a Heart Breaks” make sense to open an NBA broadcast? David Saltz, executive producer of music for ABC, has said the song was chosen because it “defines winning and losing,” which proves only that Saltz is good at deriving meaning from incoherent lyrics.
What’s interesting is Thomas’ place in the delicate little cultural dance the NBA finds itself doing, and not with much grace lately. NBA players are overwhelmingly black, and the league and the game are major elements of hip-hop culture. But the fan base is white.
So, no 50 Cent. No Ludacris. No Ying Yang Twins. Instead we get the ridiculous spectacle of country acts Big & Rich and LeAnn Rimes at halftime of this year’s NBA All-Star Game — leading Charles Barkley to say that whoever booked that show ought to have his résumé ready — and now pop rocker Thomas leading off the NBA Finals. Eminem and Jay-Z practically live courtside, but you don’t hear their stuff.
If your music is any harder than Black Eyed Peas or Destiny’s Child — in other words, if you’ve created any of the sounds in the iPod of just about any player in the league, don’t worry about what you’re going to wear on the NBA broadcast. 2005 “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood, yet another country crooner, will be taking your spot. She sang the anthem Thursday.
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Deee-troit’s announcer [PERMALINK]
Not only has Detroit tied the series, but the Pistons also have it all over the Spurs in the public address announcer competition.
Detroit’s John Mason is instantly recognizable to anyone who’s watched much NBA ball in the last few years for his signature call, “Deee-troit bas-ket-ball,” when the visitors turn the ball over. Al Michaels is fond of him, so ABC has raised his profile over the last few days.
Mason’s approach is energetic and colorful. His is a nontraditional style, with his sing-song phrasing, stuttering and occasional rhyming, but it works. For all his flash, he doesn’t seem to be trying to overshadow the game.
I guess if there’s anything good to say about the approach of San Antonio’s Stan Kelly it’s that he doesn’t try to overshadow the game. He’d have to go some to overshadow dead air.
Kelly, a news radio announcer by trade, calls the other team’s names in the opening lineups with a bored, nasal whine. It sounds like some kind of parody. It might be funny if he dropped the Urkel routine for the home team and announced those players in a booming, authoritative voice. No. It just sounds like the bored, nasal, whiny guy is talking louder. Just awful.
Mason, who is an oldies radio D.J., mispronounced Rasho Nesterovic’s name in the Game 3 introductions, which would be understandable if not forgivable, except he mispronounced “Rasho,” not “Nesterovic.” Still, I’ll take the odd mispronunciation over the Barry Gordon impersonation any day.
Previous column: New Yanks stadium
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