Piston poise produces Game 7
"Maybe we're shooting too quick," Pistons coach Larry Brown quipped when asked to explain his team's nearly turnover-free performance.
SAN ANTONIO It's hard to win when the other team gets more shots every night.
That's why if the Spurs plan on winning Game 7, they better find a way to force some turnovers.
The Pistons only committed five in winning Game 6, on the heels of committing a mere four in Game 4's blowout win.
Overall, the Pistons are averaging a meager 9.3 turnovers per game in the Finals, which explains how they've had more field-goal attempts than San Antonio in each of the past five games.
If this development had been expected that'd be one thing, but it's come completely out of the blue.
San Antonio's defense and Detroit's offense were both near the middle of the pack in turnovers per possession this season, making turnovers an unlikely area to become a focal point of the series.
I wish had a convenient explanation for how the Pistons are doing this, but it's easier to explain the presence of something than its absence. Right now, the Pistons are playing their usual offensive game, except the turnovers are absent.
As a result, their overall success has been much better than anyone could have guessed when the series started.
I'm not the only one left speechless by Detroit's superb ballhandling.
"I really don't have an answer for that," said Pistons coach Larry Brown. "Maybe we're shooting too quick."
A few answers can be found if we look hard enough, however.
"I think we're being patient," said Chauncey Billups, who dropping in 21 points without a single turnover. "We are not really forcing things like we sometimes do when we get a little antsy."
Certainly, the Pistons' calm demeanor was a notable contrast to San Antonio's the Spurs seemingly were trying for an 8-point shot on every possession in the second half. And with only eight turnovers in the first six games despite running the point and leading the team in scoring Billups has been the key to it all. One could argue that he's been the MVP of the series, in fact regardless of who wins Thursday.
Billups' ball control had Brown effusing with praise.
"Then you look at who's back there," Brown said in explaining the lack of miscues. "He's done a remarkable job under difficult circumstances dealing with me, but he takes care of the ball and is conscientious in what he does."
(Yes, this is correct Brown failed to mention "playing the right way" at any point while responding to a question about his point guard.)
Thus, turnovers have become the unlikely key for the deciding game. San Antonio can't win if the Pistons generate another microscopic turnover total. Whether it's trapping more often or playing Bruce Bowen on Billups or some other yet unknown tactical maneuver, Popovich clearly must make an adjustment in the next 48 hours.
As the saying goes, a championship team isn't going to give you the title you have to take it from them. That has never been truer than in this series. If San Antonio doesn't take the ball from the Pistons, some very disappointed people will be spilling out of SBC Center on Thursday.
We've seen the wraparound pass, but how about the wraparound dunk Tayshaun Prince put on Tim Duncan in the first quarter?
Chauncey Billups has been the MVP of this series by far, so far.
His low turnover percentage in this series has been amazing. He's led the Pistons to two of the lowest turnover games in the history of the NBA Finals in two of the last four games. He's playing spectacular basketball with his ability to control the game without putting his team in risky positions.
Of course the reason it isn't being talked about much is because Billups is lighting up the Spurs with his scoring. Every time the Spurs look to make a run, he's the guy who steps up and ends it with a big jumper or a slashing drive into the heart of the defense. He's become the premier run stopper of this series and that's why the Pistons are going to a Game 7.
Tim Legler, from the SBC Center in San Antonio
This was a great game that was very similar to Game 5 in that both teams brought it.
The only difference is that the Spurs' guards execution was poor. They didn't make good decisions and turned the ball over seven times because they were trying to get their own shot and not create for their teammates. They have to do a better job of involving their big men if they want to hoist the championship hardware.
Tim Duncan only had one more shot than Rasheed Wallace even though he played 41 minutes to Wallace's 23. Duncan is supposed to be the best player in the league, and for him to have only 14 shot attempts is ludicrous. You can't expect to win when your best player is not getting the ball.
It wasn't as though he was being faced with tremendous defensive pressure, because the guy who does the best job on him, Rasheed Wallace, was out for most of the game with foul trouble. In that situation Duncan is supposed to be fed the ball. He should have had 25-30 shots, not 14.
Greg Anthony, from the SBC Center in San Antonio
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Chris Ramsay, in San Antonio
Discombobulation, thy name is Emanuel Ginobili. Ten missed shots (in 17 tries), six missed 3s, three turnovers and numerous stalled drives defined Manu's night.
I was incredibly impressed with the way Rasheed Wallace played for the Pistons tonight. He came through early for them and late.
If this team had gotten down six or eight points, this game would probably have been over, because this crowd wanted to explode.
Wallace didn't let that happen and atoned for the big mistake he made in Game 5.
He responded and showed a lot of character with a couple of big defensive stops late in the game, some big rebounds and a couple of shots to keep the Spurs on their toes.
It was a great game for a player who doesn't get the credit he deserves because he's taken a back seat for his team.
Tim Legler, in San Antonio
The Pistons committed only five turnovers in their Game 6 victory over the Spurs.
That equaled the fewest by a visiting team in an NBA Finals game since turnovers have been officially compiled (starting with the 1971 Finals).
The Bulls committed only five turnovers in a Game 4 victory over the Lakers in the 1991 Finals at the Great Western Forum.
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Gregg Popovich wasn't as upset about his team's inability to force turnovers as he was about the Pistons' open 3-pointers.
Detroit rediscovered the long-range weapon in Game 6, making 8-of-17 from downtown after shooting a miserable 8-for-44 in the first five games.
"We had a couple of bad rotations," said Popovich. "A couple of times Chauncey [Billups] and Rip [Hamilton] were wide open."
Those open looks helped snap Billups out a 3-point slump. He made only 6-of-32 in the first five games, accounting for nearly all Detroit's long-range tries.
Thursday's 5-for-9 effort improved his percentage considerably, and he didn't lack for help either. Rasheed Wallace chimed in with two triples and Hamilton sunk his only attempt.
"They got too many open jump shots," said Tim Duncan. "We'll do a better job of that next game and keep a hand in people's face, and hopefully get that percentage down to a respectable amount for us."
John Hollinger, in San Antonio
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