Sunday, May 21, 2006

Why The Pistons Beat The Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers shocked most basketball fans by taking a 3-2 lead in their second-round series with the Detroit Pistons. The top-seeded Pistons eventually restored order, winning a tight game 6 and steamrolling the Cavaliers by a 79-61 score in game 7. LeBron James will eventually bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to the title-starved city of Cleveland, but that moment of glory will have to wait. The following reasons show why the Pistons advanced to the eastern conference finals against Miami.

Matt Millen has nothing to do with the Pistons. Or any other Detroit team that’s doing well.

Edmonton does not have an NBA franchise. The Pistons sought to avenge the city’s honor after the Oilers eliminated the Red Wings from the NHL playoffs. With no opponent from Edmonton available, Cleveland had to feel the wrath.

The ABC Sitcom Factor. Taking place in Cleveland, The Drew Carey Show was a hit series. However, Home Improvement, set in the Detroit area, was even more popular. Emulating Tim Allen, Pistons head coach Flip Saunders receives coaching advice from a partially unseen neighbor.

Detroit has a Big Ben. In February, the team with the Big Ben (Roethlisberger) won a postseason showdown in Detroit. Today Ben Wallace and the Pistons followed suit, thankful that the Cavaliers did not have a Bus.

They weren’t playing Scrabble. Even before considering bonuses such as Double Word Scores, Zydrunas Ilgauskas would be worth 35 points in Scrabble. In basketball on Sunday, he only provided eight points for Cleveland.

Michigan needed to pay back Ohio. This was the biggest sports matchup between the states since November’s Ohio State-Michigan game, won 25-21 by the Buckeyes. To be on the safe side, arena security kept OSU quarterback Troy Smith out of the arena.

Equaling a Yankee slugger is not so impressive on the court. Saturday, Barry Bonds tied Babe Ruth with his 714th career home run. Sunday, the Cavaliers matched Roger Maris by tallying 61. Sadly, there will be no asterisk for Cleveland.

The music scene. Yes, Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the Hall would not exist without Motown. The Four Tops symbolize the Pistons’ quest for a fourth championship.

The Anti-NC State conspiracy. Pistons assistant Sidney Lowe has been hired as the new head coach for North Carolina State. However, he will not be working full-time for the Wolfpack until Detroit is eliminated. Suspiciously, UNC alumnus Rasheed Wallace helped to delay Lowe’s move to Raleigh.

City nicknames. Cleveland is “The Forest City,” so it’s not as ready to run the court as The Motor City.

The loss prevented World Series nightmares in Cleveland. If the Cavaliers had won, they would have played the Miami Heat in the conference finals. A Cleveland-Miami postseason matchup would evoke memories of the 1997 World Series, when the Indians blew a 9th inning game 7 lead against the Marlins. Dwyane Wade would have been joined in the backcourt by Edgar Renteria.

Final Four Most Outstanding Players. The Pistons have two – Richard Hamilton and Tony Delk. Just imagine what they could have done with Anderson Hunt.

The Pistons’ win sets up an Out of Sight series. Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight took place in both Miami and Detroit. At halftime of Game 1, fans will be treated to George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, getting it on at halfcourt.

The royalty issue. LeBron is called “King James,” but that’s just a nickname. On the other hand, Prince is Tayshaun’s real surname. And he plays in a Palace, so he’s clearly part of a royal family.

John Elway. I know, he had nothing to do with this series. But Cleveland sports fans are used to blaming him for postseason misery.