Chauncey Billups: He turned in an Eric-Snow-in-his-prime game: 9 points (3-for-6), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals and a foul in 31 minutes. Moreover, he was clearly outplayed by the previously slumping Rajon Rondo (11 points, 5-for-9, 7 assists, 5 steals). I don't know whether it was the layoff, the Boston defense, or his injured hamstring -- or maybe a combination of all three? -- but Billups didn't show the kind of aggressiveness I would have expected. I thought he'd attack the basket and put a little more pressure on Rondo. Next game, maybe?

Rasheed Wallace: First off, 'Sheed had his struggles on the offensive end: 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting, including 0-for-3 from downtown. The only time it seems to be okay to have more shots than points is if you're Allen Iverson, and Rasheed is no Allen Iverson. But in all honesty, 'Sheed's offense -- in this series at least -- is far less important than his defense. Which, as it happens, was similarly pooptastic: KG lit him up for a game-high 26 points on 11-for-17 shooting while also grabbing 9 rebounds and handing out 4 dimes.

But before you start blaming rust, know ye now that Rasheed was likewise owned by The Big Ticket during the regular season. As I pointed out in the preview I wrote for Deadspin, KG played as well or better against the Pistons and 'Sheed's D than he did against any other team, to the tune of 24 PPG, 54 percent shooting, and 7.7 RPG. For some reason, this makes no sense to me whatsoever. I would figure that, if anybody could do it, that Rasheed would put the clamps on KG.

Rip Hamilton: I love retelling the story of how Rip once said: "I know before I get the ball if the shot is going in or not." Why do basketball players make ridiculous statements like that? It would be like some idiot saying that this year's Lakers team is the best squad Kobe Bryant's ever been on. Oh, wait. Anyway, either Rip was slightly overstating things or somebody removed his Nostradamus gene (and maybe his kidney!) in his sleep last night, because The Phantom of Auburn Hills missed eight of his 13 shot attempts.

Theo Ratliff: Remember when he was all talking trash to Rashard Lewis and the Magic? That was his high point of the postseason. Since then, it's all been downhill like an out-of-control yellow snowball. Last night's Herculean performance was more like The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, or maybe Hercules In New York: 2 fouls and zero-for-everything-else in just under four minutes. On the bright side, he had a better +/- score (+4) than any of the Detroit starters. By far.

The Zoo Crew: Ah, the Pistons bench is so's unfathomable! Ha, ha! I vill be here all ze week. But seriously, the Zoo Crew -- Amir Johnson, Arron Afflalo, Jarvis Hayes, Jason Maxiell, and Rodney Stuckey -- played more like the Get Along Gang last night. They combined for 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 DNP-CDs. And even that's deceiving, since 9 of the points came from Stuckey, and both assists came from Mad Maxiell. (How did Stuckey, the backup point guard, finish with zero assists?) The other dudes spent the game shining the pine and passing out Gatorade. Which, don't get me wrong, is totally important. Gotta keep those starters hydrated.

Update! The Etroit defense: I'm an idiot sometimes. I wrote about this in today's NBA Closer column and then totally forgot about it for WotN. But, as always, Wild Yams was here to remind me: "I honestly did not see that coming last night. Take out the huge FT advantage for the Pistons in the first half and they basically got routed. They pointed this out after the game, but the Pistons' vaunted defense surrendered 52.2% shooting to the Celtics, and the C's outscored Detroit 44-22 in the paint. If the Pistons can't D up any better than that, they're gonna lose this series for sure. I was gonna say they'd get swept if they continued to D up like that, but then I remembered what Boston's looked like on the road in these playoffs." It's all true. And somewhat mystifying. Rust can affect jump shots, but it shouldn't affect defense, which is mostly a product of effort and concentration.

Flip Saunders, quote machine: The Flipster did some verbal gymnastics while trying to explain why his team looked so out of synch last night. "It wasn't a matter of rust as we had too many mental mistakes. We weren't in the right situations on some offensive sets. We weren't in the right situations on some defensive rotations. When you do that, it messes up the whole team and the whole team looks a step slow." Now, I forget...who's supposed to get the Pistons in the right situations on offense and defense?

Ray Allen: Can we even call what Ray-Ray's going through a "slump" anymore? His jump shot is more cadaverous than Hugh Hefner. I think it's safe to announce the time of death and arrange the funeral. I wonder of Paul Bearer is available to give the eulogy...

Ray tombstone 2

Update! Here's some extra observation from Stephanie G: "Surreal moment of Game 1: Ray Allen passing to Rajon Rondo for the wide open three. I'm pretty sure most people had this play reversed when it came to imagining how the playoffs would go a couple months ago. But isn't it beautiful to watch the Boston crowd cringe every time Ray Allen looks like he may be attempting an actual jump shot? And each time the release looks so smooth, so graceful...and when it doesn't even hit the rim the crowd's nervous energy is palpable and I'm just watching it on TV. I think Ray-Ray is starting to get mind fucked by his own fans. I sensed it during the Cavs series and it has to be a mental block by this point. Lean, pure shooters like this are supposed to last forever, right? Allen has to be getting the worst stage fright imaginable everytime he gets a wide open look. Poor guy."

Tony Allen: Hmm, only 25 seconds of PT? Swing your arms from side to side, come on, it's time to the mario! [/Super Mario Bros. Super Show]

Sam Cassell: DNP-CD. E.T. spent seven months trying to get bought out by the Clippers for this?! He and Mighty Mouse need to form a championship piggyback support group.

Bill Belichick, dirty perv: Wow. How many things are wrong with the following picture? The fact that Bill showed up to the Celtics game with the woman he cheated on his wife with, Sharon Shennoca? That Shennoca looks like she could be a Batman super villain named Mistress Mummy or maybe Fraulein Leatherface? That his son (?) looks like he's hopped up on Vicodin? That Jay and Silent Bob's posse are seated behind them? I mean, jeez, take your pick.

Bill and mummy

Oh, and Ms. Shenocca? I suggest you use some of your super mummy powers on Mr. Bill, because he's got eyes on a couple younger hotties. And the dancer on the right has to be thinking something that rhymes with "flirty mold pan."

Bill and dancers

Mike D'Antoni: First of all, holy crap! The Bulls got the first pick in the NBA draft! Sure, they could have sucked the chrome off of R2D2's robo-schlong last season, but little did we know they were losing with purpose. Boo-ya, baby! Now, Mike D'Antoni have been a part of that, could have started a whole new generation of Fun-N-Gun in Chicago, but nooooooooo. He went for the $$ and decided to take the helm of the Good Ship Knickerbocker. Good call, Mikey Boy. Good call.

And his "I just swallowed a big turd" reaction when the Knicks got the sixth pick? Pure, undistilled rad. As Basketbawful reader Jin put it: "I signed on this morning to see the Bulls won the draft lottery with something like a 1.7% chance of doing so, and the first thing I thought to myself was: 'Oh shit, D'antoni's gotta be pissed.' My friend hit me with this incredibly awesome picture within seconds of that (see below). I dunno if you've seen it before, but it's all five flavors of awesome. I think the fact that D'antoni kind of looks like the Monopoly Man adds to the humor or his tight lipped grimace." Yup, yup, and yup. Go directly to jail Madison Square Garden, Mike. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Do not get a chance to be happy ever again.

Mikey Boy

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Blogger Wild Yams said...
I honestly did not see that coming last night. Take out the huge FT advantage for the Pistons in the first half and they basically got routed. They pointed this out after the game, but the Pistons' vaunted defense surrendered 52.2% shooting to the Celtics, and the C's outscored Detroit 44-22 in the paint. If the Pistons can't D up any better than that, they're gonna lose this series for sure. I was gonna say they'd get swept if they continued to D up like that, but then I remembered what Boston's looked like on the road in these playoffs.

D'Antoni should hold a press conference to say that not getting the top pick doesn't bother him. It should go something like this: "Look everyone, I don't care that we're only gonna pick sixth. If I cared about coaching a team that could win do you think I would have signed with the Knicks? I'm here for the money, and as far as I can tell, the ping pong balls didn't somehow negate that big fat contract I just signed, so don't worry, I'm fine."

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Karma's a bitch isn't it D'antoni LOL

I wonder when Toronto's gonna get a good pick I mean we get screwed by stern twice
Give up the rights to pick no.1 (to get franchise in Toronto)
Allen Iverson vs. Marcus Camby
Stern switches age limit for 2006
Greg Oden vs. Bargnani

NO team has been screwed by stern directly as much as Toronto has at the draft.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Go directly to Madison Square Garden, Mike. Do not pass Go. Do collect $200. Pay Luxury Tax of $75. Whore yourself to NY media.

Fixed that for ya.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm not sure why people are crapping on D'Antoni for choosing the Knicks over the Bulls. It isn't that clear cut of a choice.

Paxson is an average GM at best and would try to impose his ideas on D'Antoni's coaching at every step of the way.

Plus, I firmly believe Paxson will screw up this draft like he has in each draft for the past 5 years.

The New York roster is horrible but at least Walsh is a better GM who will give D'Antoni free reign to promote his own coaching style.

And of course the extra cash doesn't hurt.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I wonder what will happen to Nash-ball in PHO without D'Antoni.

He was not nearly as effective in Dallas when he had to get all of his points off iso's and spot-up 2's and 3's. And when was the last time you saw Nash successfully get switched onto a center/forward, lick his fingers, and drive straight to the hole for a layup and-one?

He used to school the likes of Dirk and Duncan whenever they got switched onto him- but I don't see the pop in his legs and that "I'm going to score on you no matter what" look in his eyes anymore. Does he become Jason Williams now and just walk up the ball, pass it once, and then disappear from the rest of the offense?

I think PHO will struggle to get into the playoffs next year.

Anyone care to comment on that?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Real quick. I thought the NBA outlawed those stocking, tight, leg-warmer things Sheed had. I missed them, did I miss this memo? Has any other team had two guys with face masks, maybe, but I don't recall. McDyess and Rip lookin like Kane and Mankind out there. Lastly, I am sure I'm the only one that felt this but when the players where saying their little one word phrases, "desire", "passion" so on. When Chauncey said "Heart" I thought that Capt Planet would show up. Maybe it was cause I was reading something, I'm crazy.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Wild Yams -- Damn, dude. You're getting so many extra mentions in my posts I feel like I should give you a byline.

shrugz -- It's the lingering remains of the Curse of Vinsanity.

anacondahl -- Fixed indeed.

anonymous #1 -- I think part of it was that he seemed very intent on Chicago and then basically got lured by $$. Which is fine, I guess, except that, if you've read anything in depth on D'Antoni, the Knicks roster represents the exact opposite of everything he believes in as a coach.

anonymous #2 -- I agree that Nash struggled in Dallas, where is role was basically "Bring the ball upcourt, pass it to Dirk or Finley, and then spot up for a three." A terrible misuse of his talents, as we've found out.

Whoever comes in to coach the Suns will need to use something similar to the existing system. Although that system has been compromised by the loss of all their three-point shooters and, of course, Marion.

Like you, it sure looked to me as though Captain Canada had lost a step this season. A tiny step, maybe. But once a superstar begins taking those backward steps, they don't suddenly get 'em back.

tradebait -- The NBA did indeed outlaw the tights...unless a player has a medical condition that necessitates them. The question is: Does 'Sheed actually have a condition like that, or did he just say, "Screw it. I like 'em. They feel good. I'll pay the fines."? I'm guessing it's the latter.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I wanna comment on two things here: the Suns' future and Detroit Pistons: Men in Tights. First the Suns: They very well could miss the playoffs next year, although if that happens I'm sure it'll be as much due to the rise of Portland, and maybe the Clippers or Kings, as well as the age of Phoenix. Nash might start taking steps back just because in reality he is getting old, especially for a point guard where speed plays a big part. In addition to Nash's age, one really has to wonder how motivated Shaq's gonna be this summer, and whether laziness combined with him nearing 37 will make him a complete millstone around Phoenix's neck. Grant Hill and Raja Bell ain't getting any younger either. One would assume that a new Suns coach may very well re-work the entire offense to center around Amare instead of Nash, but I can only guess what that would look like since Amare seems to be a player who works better in feeding off of his teammates play than in creating his own shot (at his size he's not that great at taking his man off the dribble, nor creating jumpshots off the dribble, and he has little to no post game to speak of). It's gonna be interesting for sure to see what happens there.

Now onto to the tights, or rather, just extra gear in general. I've long thought that Rip Hamilton's wearing that mask because he thinks it's "lucky" sort of inadvertently brings up what could be a controversial topic in the NBA moving forward, namely, what protective gear should be allowed? Other players from time to time will wear some weird protection when they're playing hurt (like T-Mac's pseudo-shoulder pad thing this year), and most players wear compression shorts. Some wear elbow pads or knee pads. But why is Rip allowed to continually wear a piece of protective gear that nobody else is wearing when he's not protecting an injury? What if T-Mac suddenly decides the shoulder pad was "lucky" and wants to wear two of them all the time? What if he then dons a facemask and Dwyane Wade's old flack jacket to go with knee pads under those Sheedesque tights and elbow pads underneath arm sleeves like Kobe, AI and Melo wear? Clearly that's going a bit far with this, but look at all the protective gear hitters started wearing in baseball the last couple years and how some say that enabled them to crowd the plate w/o fear of being hit? People were saying all the extra gear Wade was wearing allowed him to play more recklessly than other players could, so they outlawed some of it. Shouldn't Rip fall under the same scrutiny, or does he get a pass just cause that mask is so damn ugly?

BTW, thanks for the compliment Mr. Bawful, I'm just glad to be able to help contribute to one of my favorite sites :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I thought the lady with Belicheck was Cathy Lee Crosby

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- The "official" story on Rip's mask is that he's had his nose broken so many times, he's in greater-than-normal danger of having it rebroken with minimal contact. So, according to him, it's both lucky and "necessary." I'm sure he got a note from the Pistons medical staff to that effect.

Unlike the tights, though, the mask hasn't caught on. But trust me, if all sorts of players started showing up with head gear, David Stern would put a stop to it...just like he did with the tights.

Blogger Trev said...
Got this from

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Do you think Stern put a stop to the tights just cause players looked so stupid wearing them, or do they provide some kind of advantage that we don't know about? I'm sure they help prevent muscle pulls, but damn people look dumb when they wear them. Ditch the leotard there, Sheed.

Also, I can't do all this discussion about tights without thinking of this scene from Barton Fink about how to write a wrestling picture:

"There's plenty of poetry right inside that ring, Fink.
Look at Hell 10 Feet Square. Blood, Sweat, and Canvas.
These are big movies, Fink, about big men.
In tights!
Both physically and mentally...
Especially physically."

Blogger Basketbawful said...
trev -- Awesome.

Yams -- I think it's the "stupid" part. I'd have to dig up the old newsclippings, but basically he said it made the players look unprofessional, or something to that effect.

Barton Fink? Never heard of it. Good?

Blogger Wild Yams said...
You've never heard of Barton Fink? It's a Coen Bros movie from the early 90s starring John Turturro and John Goodman (go figure they'd be in a Coen Bros movie). Some might say it's a bit artsy-fartsy, so if you're not prone to making trips to the local art house movie theater it might not be your cup of tea. However, if you are a Coen Bros fan, you gotta check it out, along with everything else they've ever done (except maybe for Ladykillers and to a lesser extent Intolerable Cruelty).

Man, weird day on the basketball blogosphere. Over on FreeDarko everyone's debating Ed Norton movies and now this.

Back on track: any predictions for the FT disparity in tonight's game? :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
1- Maybe KG is just one of those guys that play as well or as bad as their opponents. That would explain why he plays so well against Sheed. And would mean that the Pistons should be have kept Darko to guard him in this story.

2- Let's get off D'Antoni's back. He has reasons to go to New York instead of Chicago besides the $$$. Off the top of my head:

a) New York is America's greatest city, basketball or otherwise

b) The biggest challenge for an NBA coach right now is to try and give back some dignity to the Knicks franchise after the depths of the Isiah era

c) D'Antoni will have (I assume) free rein to experiment in New York; whatever crazy system he wants to adopt can't get him worse results than 23 wins.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic but I just had to share that picture

Blogger Shrugz said...
I personally am still not sold on D'antoni as a solid coach (without a defensive assistant coach at least)

without nash his record was WELL below .500

we'll find out if it was D'Antoni or Nash that really runs that system next year though

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Way off topic, but here's that scene from Barton Fink I was referring to earlier.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- Okay. That's good.