Chauncey Billups Says Lakers Should've Swept Pistons in 2004 NBA Finals

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2020

AUBURN HILLS, UNITED STATES:  Chauncey Billups (R) of the Detroit Pistons gets around Kobe Bryant (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of game four of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers 13 June, 2004 at The Palace in Auburn Hills, MI. The Pistons won the game 88-80 to lead the best-of-seven game series 3-1.      AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES  (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)
JEFF HAYNES/Getty Images

Few NBA Finals results throughout league history have been as surprising as the 2004 matchup between the Detroit Pistons and a Los Angeles Lakers squad featuring Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton, Karl Malone and head coach Phil Jackson.  

Even Chauncey Billups, who was the MVP of the series and led the Pistons to a 4-1 victory, suggested the Lakers should have won when talking with Kendrick Perkins, Cassidy Hubbarth and Amin Elhassan on ESPN's Hoop Streams.

"If you look at the names on the back of the jerseys, yeah, they should have swept us," he said. "They really should have."

However, he pointed out, "styles make fights, and our style against theirs was superior even in the regular season when we played them."

It was because of those style matchups that Billups said he was pleased the Purple and Gold defeated a Minnesota Timberwolves team with Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell in the Western Conference Finals.

"I was happy because I felt like there was no way the Lakers could beat us," he said.

It turns out Billups was right, in large part because of his own play. He averaged 21.0 points, 5.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals throughout the series behind 50.9 percent shooting from the field and 47.1 percent shooting from three-point range.

Detroit also took a physical approach to the Lakers, especially when it came to guarding O'Neal with a frontcourt that included Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Elden Campbell.

The Pistons' win marked the end of an era for the Lakers as they traded O'Neal to the Miami Heat the following offseason. He and Bryant won three straight titles together in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and formed one of the best one-two punches in NBA history, but it wasn't enough to overcome Billups and Detroit.

O'Neal won one more championship when paired with Dwyane Wade on the Heat, while Bryant won back-to-back titles with Los Angeles in 2009 and 2010.


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