The San Antonio Spurs have dispatched of a very tough Utah Jazz team in five games, and will take the next week off waiting to see who their opponent will be in the NBA Finals.
And the Detroit Pistons?
They are struggling their way through another seven game series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Come on, now! Why do the Pistons feel the need to do it the hard way every single year? As much as the Detroit press and Pistons fans complain that the team is often guilty of taking the night off to its detriment, they have not changed that perception.
Many pundits are blaming Chauncey Billups, the team’s leader, for the sub-standard performance. Not only is Ã¢Â€ÂœMr. Big ShotÃ¢Â€Â not living up to his name, some say he is making poor decisions and playing without the heart necessary to win a championship.
So what gives, Chauncey? Are you more concerned about your impending free agency than another championship? What are you doing?
“Â€ÂœI made a couple bad plays, but that’Â€Â™s going to happen. I’m human,” Billups said Wednesday. “Â€ÂœI know I spoiled y’all, not ever missing at the end of the game, but it’Â€Â™s going to happen. It’s no big deal."Â€Â
No big deal?? This is the Conference Finals! No big deal? Isn’Â€Â™t this the reason athletes play sports? To win? No big deal?
"Â€ÂœI don’t see the situation as being that bad,"Â€Â he said. "It’Â€Â™s 2-2, these are the Eastern Conference finals. We have three games left -Â€Â” two of them at our place.”
But Chauncey, this season you guys won more games on the road than you did at home. Can you really count on home court advantage carrying you through? And though the Cavs donÃ¢Â€Â™t have the strong team that the Pistons do, theyÃ¢Â€Â™ve outplayed yÃ¢Â€Â™all the last two (arguably the last four) games.
After the criticism he took in games one and two, Lebron James has stepped up, and is now embracing the “new Michael Jordan"Â€Â hype that ushered him into the league. How are you going to stop him?
"Â€ÂœYou just contest and hope that it doesn’Â€Â™t go in,” Billups said. “Â€ÂœThere’s nothing you can really do about that, when he’s hitting shots like that. You just have to box out and hope it comes off the rim."Â€Â
Hope?? What kind of defensive scheme is "hope”? That’Â€Â™s not the way this team has spoken in the past. Are you guys just resting on your laurels, and assuming that you’Â€Â™ll win just because you’Â€Â™re the Pistons?
“Â€ÂœWe raised the bar so high, especially in late-game-type situations, when we do make the wrong play it sticks out,” Billups said. “That’Â€Â™s good, though. It let us know what’s expected of us. It’Â€Â™s not a bad thing, that everybody is saying, `What’s going on? Why did we turn it over? Why did we miss this shot?
"It’s a tribute to what we’ve been doing down the stretch for years."Â€Â
I think you’Â€Â™re missing the point, Chauncey. This isn’Â€Â™t a tribute to what you have done. This is a criticism of what you’re doing now. You guys come across as arrogant and overconfident.
"Our confidence is really never shook,” Billups said calmly, waving off great concern, “no matter how we win or lose.”
Well, the rest of us are starting to get worried. Just bring the Pistons championship energy that you need to win and get this thing over with. Losing is not an option, and apathy is not a winning strategy.