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Finals Perspective

For the first time in at least 5 years I am looking forward to the NBA Finals, not coincidently the fact that one of the teams playing knocked the Supersonics out of the playoffs. What interests me most about this Finals is that if there is a team that offensively is most like the playoff version of the Sonics, it is the Detroit Pistons. Of the series the Spurs had during the playoffs the Sonics were by far thier toughest competition. Which leads me to believe that this could be a very interesting series. Quick prediction has the Pistons retaining thier championships in either 6 or 7 games.

The difference between the Sonics and the Pistons is rather obvious, the Pistons play much better team defense. On offense the Sonics and Pistons share some striking characteristics. Both teams have big men that set picks, rebound and play a very physical style of ball. When Seattle went to a lineup with Radman and Lewis on the court together it allowed them to have both guys that are able to shoot from the outside as well as drive to the hoop. Both teams set up stagger screens for thier shooting guards. The one significant difference is at the starting PG position where Billips is more of an offensive threat while Ridnour sets up the offense. However, when Daniels is at the point that difference shrinks dramatically.

I believe that Larry Brown and staff are watching how the Sonics played on the offensive end and will be able to exploit the matchup situations that will present themselves. Bowen can only guard one of Billips, Hamilton or Prince and I would imagine that the other two will work to get into the post on Manu or Parker. In games 6 and 7 of the Heat/Pistons series Billips did a great job of posting up Jones and I would expect to see a lot of the same against Parker. This would free up both of the Wallaces for backcuts as Duncan or Nazr will be forced to come over and double. If Bowen is on Hamilton I would expect Prince to spend sometime in the post as well because as great as Manu is, you have to work him on the offensive end to expend some of his energy. Prince in the post is a huge height advantage for the Pistons and with Billips and Rasheed Wallace's ability to feed the post it will lead to easy looks. If Bowen gets matched up on Prince I expect that Hamilton will attempt to run Manu off every screen combination much the way the Sonics did.

As we learned in the WC Semi's in order to beat the Spurs you have to play them physically and control the midrange game. Detroit is not a great 3 point shooting team, but Billips, Hamilton, Sheed, Prince and McDyess are all very solid 15 foot jumpshooters. The strengths of the Spurs defense is taking away the three and sealing the rim, where they are vulnerable is that midrange area. With Detroit's depth and matchup problems they present, I expect them to hold on and win this series.