Pistons-Heat Game 7: A Day Later
Well, somewhat predictably, not even an hour after the game ended, the "Miami would have won this game if Dwyane Wade would have been healthy!" bandwagon left the station. And picked up steam. And was a big topic on ESPN and numerous sportsradio shows today. Even the MWB's own Todd "The Diddy" Hykes told me that Miami would have won if Wade had been 100%. He then asked me if I felt the same way, and I replied with a resounding...
"I don't know."
Because I don't. And really, neither does anyone else. But the speculation will happen, nonetheless. It always does. But I really think it's shitty to try and play the "Detroit was lucky to win, because Wade wasn't healthy" card, and I have a few answers to that claim, culled from a few local doofs and, somewhat shockingly, Bill Simmons (who only partially-jokingly picked Miami to win by 28 yesterday).
1.) This Pistons team was built to avoid situations like what Miami just went through. When you rely that heavily on 1 or 2 superstars, an injury, even one that still allows the star(s) to play, can murder your team. Last year, Rasheed Wallace played the entire playoffs with Plantar Fasciitis that limited everything he could do. Sure, he played every game, but people seem to forget that he was only marginally effective in the Conference Finals and Finals (except for Game 4 of the Finals, when he took over late in the fourth because he was eating Slava Medvedenko alive on the block). Because of the Pistons' balance, and the way the team was constructed, Wallace was able to just kind of blend in and not have to do too much while the other guys did the heavy lifting. Simply put, Damon Jones, Keyon Dooling, Eddie Jones, and Rasual Butler couldn't do that kind of lifting. Putting all your eggs in the "Shaq and Dwy-ane will carry the rest of our crappy players" basket makes you extremely vulnerable to injuries. Instead of screaming "you got lucky," maybe people should be giving credit to Joe Dumars.
2.) And this is related to 1.) -- Because of the tremendous load that Wade had to bear in almost literally carrying those other stiffs through the regular season and into the Conference Finals, it seems like his body just kind of gave out once it hit the 95-game mark. Say what you want about the Pistons not really playing hard until they absolutely have to -- and believe me, I will, in the next point -- but it's undeniable that they (rightly or wrongly) have saved themselves for what they've felt were the biggest moments all year. They paced themselves and brought out the big guns when they needed them. On the other hand, Wade's body fell apart after carrying his team for six months of the regular season, as well as about 2 heavily-burdensome weeks of the playoffs without Shaq. Should the Pistons be criticized for this? Their team, of the course of the season, was constructed a little bit better than Miami's. What's so awful about them moving on? Oh, that's right. They don't have Shaq, who has clearly become the single most beloved athlete in the entire sport.
3.) The Pistons, although it drives me completely crazy, have exhibited a nasty habit of not playing with any intensity whenever their backs weren't against the wall, and coming out like gangbusters when it seemed that their season might actually have been on the line. I hate it, but they've played up and down to their competition all year. So is it really that unreasonable to think that they might have raised their level of play had Wade been completely healthy? Just something to think about.
4.) As Simmons said: the Pistons possibly would have beaten the '87 Celtics if Adrian Dantley and Vinnie Johnson hadn't cracked heads and had to leave the game in Game 7, and they almost definitely would have won the '88 title if Isiah hadn't sprained his ankle in Game 6. So if anyone was due for a break of "the best opposing player suffering a debilitating injury right as his team was taking control of the series" caliber, it was the Detroit Pistons.
5.) And the number one, biggest, most foolproof answer to the "Detroit wouldn't have won if Wade had been healthy" bullshit:
WHO THE FUCK CARES?
The Pistons are in the finals for the second year in a row. How much is whining that Wade wasn't 100% healthy gonna change that? Not one goddamn bit.
Although I'm terrified of the Spurs.
And speaking of the Spurs, here's a nice little Tim Duncan piece, for shits and giggles.