Looking back at the Eastern Conference Finals, there are two things that became painfully clear: We will have a Celtics-Lakers final and the Pistons are looking at needed roster changes in the next offseason.
The Pistons could not manage to keep the Celtics within striking distance down the stretch, wasting away a 10-point lead in the 4th Quarter in Game 6. Poor shot selection, clock mismanagement, and the coach's dedication to the Starting 5 all seem to be attributes to the Game 6 loss.
Over the last 5 minutes of Game 6, The Pistons reverted to being one-dimensional, relying on the jump shot for the most part. Even after Kevin Garrett had gotten his 5th foul, there was a reluctance to get good post looks against him or even get the ball consistently into the lane to land high percentage shots. The Celts were able to open a 9-point lead at 85-76 with about 1:30 left.
The two players whom earlier the game and throughout the series were scoring quality looks, Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell, spent the majority of the time on the bench during those last 4 and half minutes. Maxiell, himself, had score 4 straight points to go up by 2 at 74-72 at around the 5 minute mark.
The Starting 5 for the Pistons had no answers as Rasheed Wallace and Tayshawn Prince effectively disappeared from the offense. The offense lacked the fire, the drive, and aggressiveness that was needed in a season-ending game. 'Sheed, even after his R-Rated tieraid after Game 5, continued to be lax in the context of the offense. And a pennies-worth of advice for 'Sheed: If you can't fire up the rest of your squad with your act anymore, you may actually be part of the problem.
The Pistons still lack a reliable offensive post threat or a creative enough scorer to score in crunch time. It's now time for the Pistons to become younger and more offensively diverse. Although, Maxiell and Stuckey will help answer these needs, this will be the dilemma to be considered by Joe Dumars for the Pistons to be competitive for a NBA Finals spot.
The Lakers showed they may just be the best team in NBA, with a convincing 5-game series win over the Spurs earlier on Thursday Night, earning their spot into the NBA Finals. The Lakers able to take advantage of an injured Manu Ginobili and a lack of depth on the Spurs' bench. Kobe Bryant put up 39 and showed why he is the NBA MVP as he scored at will in 2nd Half as the Spurs blew a 17-point lead in the 2nd Quarter.
the Finals, The Lakers should give the Celts fits as they are more athletic, more aggressive, and better coached than the newly-crowned Eastern Conference Champs. The Celts will have to rely on their 3-point shooting and the hot hand of Ray Allen as they have no clear post presence beyond KG.
I'll be eager to see if Paul Pierce can match score-with-score with Kobe as he may need to do so for the Celts to stay in the series. Kobe has been lights out in the last 2 games for the Western Finals (52 pts in 2nd Half combined). Pau Gasol had 12 pts, 19 rebs (9 off) in Game 5, controlling the boards for the Lakers.
My prediction for the NBA Finals: Lake Show in 5. Game 1 of the Finals is on Thurs. 6/5 at 9 PM on ABC.