The beginning of the "real" season couldn't come quick enough for most Pistons fans. While most people expect the first-round to be a mere formality for the Pistons' march to the Finals, it's never safe to underestimate any team in the NBA, especially one with no expectations and nothing to lose. With that in mind, we jotted down a few notes for a real-time recap. Let's get this started!
11:45 -- David Stern's ban on panty hose can't come soon enough -- lilly-white Andrew Bogut just looks awkward sportin' the black tights. What's next for Game 2, cornrows?
11:33 -- Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first bucket of the postseason: Rasheed Wallace slams home a tip-back of his own miss.
11:09 -- Bobby Simmons just drained what should be the first of many Milwaukee threes this series. This team is flat-out dangerous beyond the arc, finishing fourth in the league in three-point percentage (ahem, one spot below the Pistons).
10:35 -- Jamaal Magliore, aka 'The Big Canadian,' hits his first shot. He needs to be a monster to keep the series close. (Be the first on his bandwagon: get his official desktop wallpaper today!)
9:00 -- Bucks run out to an early 9-2 lead. And here we were thinking Detroit would throw out the usual script for the playoffs.
8:54 -- Pistons time out. Quick note: T.J. Ford looks like Nick Cannon, the guy from Drumline:
8:45 -- Chauncey Billups drains a jumper. It looks like he's going to exploit the T.J. Ford matchup, a good thing, since Ford weighs 165 pounds soaking wet. He may not actually fit in Jamaal Magliore's pocket, but I'll be damned if he doesn't hitch a ride to work in the Big Canuck's lunchbox.
8:25 -- Ben steals and goes coast to coast for the lay-in. For all we rip on him for his (lack of) offense, that was sweet.
7:50 -- Sheed hits his first three.
6:10 -- Michael Redd punishes the rim on his first three attempt. That's a good sign. This guy averaged 30 a game against Detroit this year.
5:51 -- Sheed comes up with the rejection on Redd. Detroit's bigs are much more active tonight.
5:08 -- Tayshaun Prince misses the baby hook. Aside from getting out in transition, it's looking to be one of his quiet nights.
4:20 -- Redd is now 1-for-6 and whining after every missed shot.
3:55 -- Random thought: Chauncey and Tayshaun kind of break up the team unity by refusing to wear the red headbands favored by Ben, Sheed, and Rip. Think there's any locker room politics going on about this?
3:45 -- Rip drives Redd to the hole, and 1. This individual matchup will be the best of the series.
2:48 -- Hey, (former No. 1 overall pick) (and subsequent bust) (but former Piston, so we forgive him) Joe Smith hit a shot!
2:30 -- Surprise! Sheed is embarrassing Bogut down low.
2:00 -- We're shown a touching story about T.J. Ford's spinal injury, complete with the soundtrack of an 80's after-school special. Thanks TNT!
1:58 -- Pistons take the lead 18-17; I believe it's their first since Rasheed's first bucket. Let's see what the scoring differential is from here until the end of the first half.
0:34 -- Lindsey Hunter is in the game, how much do you want to bet that he dribbles the clock all the way down and jacks the last shot of the quarter?
0:05 -- And, yes! Lindsey tags the rim from three point range; great job, buddy! Oh, but I lose my bet after Ben grabs the O-board and kicks to Rip for another miss at the buzzer.
End of 1st quarter: 19-19
11:02 -- You gotta love TNT: they come up with a catchy role for each player (ie, Rip Hamilton is Detroit's "Efficient Scorer"). What's Jamaal Magliore? "Space Eater." You think I'm kidding. I'm not.
10:55 -- Lindsey Hunter drives to the hole, offensive foul. Fantastic!
9:00 -- Space Eater manhandles Tayshaun to grab the rebound.
8:51 -- Tay comes right back and hits the layup (and 1!) against Magliore -- Pistons up 26-24.
8:08 -- Redd leaves the game with two points... yet his team is still in the game.
7:56 -- Bogut shows some nice moves of his own with a scoop around Sheed.
7:07 -- Rip drives and misses the layup, but he'll go to the line. Thus far, Rip is only 1-7 from the field, but he sinks both freebies. Side note: This game has absolutely no playoff atmosphere to it.
6:52 -- Bogut with the beautiful move to get to the hole for a dunk. He's learning quickly.
6:38 -- But then Sheed for THREEEEEEEE over the outstretched Bogut.
5:36 -- Sheed lets Charlie Bell score easily... can anyone explain that?
4:58 -- Redd, tired of missing jumpers, decides to dunk on Rip.
4:38 -- Sheed for THREEEEEEE. Bogut just cannot get out to the arc quick enough to cover Sheed on the perimeter. You know you are good when everyone prepares for your pick-and-roll, and yet you still score at will with it. Shades of Stockton and Malone -- but the Mailman never had range like Sheed.
4:30 -- We're reminded that Toni Kukoc is out for tonight's game. Please let that mean more Dan Gadzuric!
3:59 -- Chauncey, as George Blaha would say, "stops, pops, and drops." 38-36 Pistons.
3:43 -- Joe Smith steps to the free throw line. Did anyone else know he was the captain of the Bucks? (He's got the little hockey C on his jersey.) That's just bizarre. What, does he school them in mediocrity?
2:36 -- Joe Smith with the airball as the shot clock expires. Way to go, el cap-i-tan. During the dead ball, TNT shows Ben, who currently has 2-7-2, and runs a segment on selfless players on great teams. They show Wes Unseld, Bill Russell, Paul Silas and... Charles Oakley, who is shown battling against Laimbeer for a rebound. Someone remind me, Oakley was a selfless, hard-working player for what championship team again? Lambs should have been featured in that slot. Whatever.
1:01 -- Pistons out on the break, Chauncey fouled on the layup attempt. He splits the freebies putting the Pistons up 4. Can't help but get the sense that the Pistons are going on a run. Too bad the half is almost over.
0:33 -- Tay with the jumper. Pistons up 43-37, including eight from Tay.
0:16 -- Bucks turnover. Cue Mason: "DEEEETROIT BAAAASKETBALLLL"
End of half: Pistons 43, Bucks 37. Sheed leads the way with 17 on 7-11 shooting.
Halftime: Can TNT stop running this Vince Carter commercial? "That's why we don't give the dog people food." What? "The dog? Yeah, he's bulimic." Is this funny? Did Carter's PR team hatch this script thinking it would make him appear more likable, and make people forget how he stole fistfuls of looneys from the Raptors?
10:30 -- Sheed gets a tech for... well, I'm not really sure. I guess he argued against a loose ball foul, but really, what did he do that others in this game haven't done already? (And in case you're wondering, yes, his technical foul counter resets for the playoffs.) (Though he's only allowed a total of seven before the suspensions start.) (And, uh, he did tally nine during last year's playoff run.)
9:27 -- Tay with the threeee. The Caps Lock button is reserved for Sheed, and Sheed alone. Pistons up 51-40.
9:26 -- Oh, snap -- the Palace just aired the Final Countdown! The Bucks have no idea how over this game is.
8:02 -- Rip finally hits. Pistons 55-43.
7:21 -- T.J. just got a tech, which looks suspiciously like a make-up call.
6:13 -- Ben draws the charge from Redd, who is in the midst of a truly terrible game. He currently has 9 points and 4 fouls.
5:29 -- Chauncey hits the three; Pistons are running away, 62-45.
4:13 -- Ben goes careening towards the hoop and loses the ball.
4:03 -- Charlie Bell with the "and 1" on the other end. Quick aside: Five years ago, who would have thought that Bell would be playing big-time minutes for an NBA playoff team while fellow MSU Flintstone Mateen Cleaves would be at home resting following a grueling NBDL season? (OK, so the D-League didn't exist five years ago, but you get my point...)
1:53 -- Sloppy play (and complacency) has officially taken over -- Rip suddenly has an inability to hit a 5-foot jumper.
1:21 -- The Bucks do not have a player in double digits scoring.
End of third quarter: Pistons 68, Bucks 56.
11:05 -- Bucks score the first five points of the quarter to cut Detroit's lead to seven: 68-61.
10:37 -- Lindsey drives to the hole, misses the layup, and commits the loose-ball foul. Ouch.
10:25 -- Charlie Bell with another three; 68-64 Pistons. Matt IM's me: "I believe the technical term for what just happened is 'WTF?!' "
9:40 -- Rip crumples to the ground. F@%#! He turned his ankle stepping on Bogut's foot. OK, deep breaths. If it had to happen, it's a blessing it happened in Game 1. With three days between games and with three more games against the 16 seed (err... 8 seed), he has some time to rest up.
But wait! Warrior -- Rip is back in the game. Matt: "Rip is like a freaking samuri. You just can't stop him."
9:19 -- Dyess with the tip-back, Pistons 70-64.
8:02 -- DAGGER! Sheed for THREEEEEE!
7:42 -- Fast break, and Rip hits a shot! Double Dagger! 77-64
6:43 -- Holy crap, Antonio McDyess can still jump! He scores on a HUGE tip-back slam, putting Detroit on an 11-0 run since Rip's "injury." Dyess had a quote in the Detroit News this week that he actually completed a windmill dunk in practice -- even he was pleasantly surprised that his hops were back:
"I am feeling good," he said with a smile. "I did a windmill (dunk) the other day in practice. I surprised myself. Hadn't done that in a while."
He just showed those hops right there -- that was huge.
5:20 -- Redd has it stripped, the Pistons break out and Rip scores on the break. He's now limping again, and this time leaving the game. (On the replay, it looked like he stepped on the cameraman.)
4:14 -- Shot of Rip on the bench grimacing in pain as super-trainer Mike Abdenour works on his ankle. Just remember, three days to rest... Not that the bench would say otherwise, but the announcers just reveal that the Pistons trainers have informed them that Rip's injury isn't serious, and that the only reason he hasn't returned to the floor is the score.
3:54 -- Milwaukee has declared war on the front iron.
2:00 -- GADZURIC!!! Hits the garbage bucket.
1:33 -- With a 19-point lead and 93 seconds left, the starters FINALLY left the game.
1:28 -- GADZURIC!!! Slams a garbage dunk.
0:09 -- Lindsey punishes the rim with authority. Show it who's boss!
End of game: Pistons 92, Bucks 74. A 20-point win would have been nice, but a Bucks bucket at the buzzer ruins it.
The post-game interview with Rip Hamilton brings good news...
Sideline reporter Stephanie Ready: "Will you be alright for Game 2?"
Rip, flashing a grin: "Yessir!"
OK, so this game wasn't without flaws -- the Pistons almost inexplicably let the Bucks come back in the fourth quarter before waking up and flipping the proverbial switch. While we still hate those occasional lapses of concentration, the fact that this team can so easily make up for them is a sight to behold. Rasheed scored just five after the halftime but still led Detroit with 22 -- foul trouble (and that tech) helped limit him to just 30 minutes, but it'll be fun to watch if he can avoid the whistle and exploit his matchup against Bogut for an entire game.
Dyess saw a lot of action (30 minutes) in place of Rasheed and nearly came through with a double-double, settling for nine points to go with 10 boards. Ben Wallace was huge with 17 rebounds, and it was nice to see Tay grab eight, as well. And even though his jumper wasn't always dropping, Rip -- continuing his new trend of slashing to the basket -- converted 11-of-12 free throws. (And yes, we're turning a blind-eye to Billups' very un-Chauncey-like 5-of-8 performance from the stripe.)
Milwaukee showed some fight, which was nice, but the final score was rather predictable considering Michael Redd finished with just 11 points after going 5-of-16 from the field. Bare in mind, Redd put up games of 37 and 41 against Detroit in the regular season, averaging 30 in four games. You just can't make up for 11 coming out of your best player. Bell led the Bucks with 13. Sure, his team lost the game, but how much would you enjoy being in his shoes, performing in the playoffs in his home state with three days to kill?
All in all, this game was pretty much what most people expected: a dominating win for Detroit. It wasn't the most consistent effort through and through, but it definitely got the job done.
One down, 15 to go.