We really know that we shouldn’t be thinking about this right now. We know that the sentiment we are about to express smacks of an inferiority complex. We KNOW we should be celebrating the Cavs first trip to the finals in franchise history. But instead, we are being annoyed by sore losers and sour grapes from the Pistons, their supporters in the media, and their fans.
Where should we begin? Well let’s start with Pistons guard and soon-to-be free agent Chauncey Billups:
“I'm just mad we lost four straight games to a team that I felt wasn't better than us.”
This is what I call the “Matt Leinart response” to losing, after Leinart famously stated “I still think we’re better than them” after losing the 2006 Rose Bowl to Texas. It is a second cousin of the “Michael Hart response” of “if we played them again we would win.”
Chauncey, not only were you not the better team in the series as a whole, you were not the better team in any of the six games of the series. The Pistons were very fortunate to win games 1 and 2 as a result of the Cavs not being able to hit big shots down the stretch.
And one more thing: if we can get on our soap box for a second: Can we please put to bed the whole “the better team didn’t win” take as a response to losing a big game or series? We get so sick of people in sports who say this after a game. When you play a seven game series, or a big football game, the better team ALWAYS wins. That’s why you play, to determine which team is better. The Pistons are a veteran team, they knew what was at stake, if they were so much better, why did they let the LeBron embarrass them in game five and completely come apart at the end of game six?
Ok, now how about the conspiracy theorists:
“The NBA wanted LeBron in the Finals and not the Pistons.”
You know, we weren’t going to dignify this take with a response, but what the hell. Was it David Stern who left Daniel Gibson alone in games four and six and allowed him to rain threes? Was David Stern on the court setting picks for LeBron and giving him a clear path to the basket for dunks at the end of regulation in game five? Was Stern willing LeBron's perimeter jumpers into the basket as he shot the lights out in the overtimes of game six?
Don't get us wrong, NBA executives have to be thrilled to have an exciting young star like James to showcase in the finals rather than an old, whining team like the Pistons, but that is not WHY the Cavs won.How about this one from NBA analyst Ernie Johnson:
"The Cavs got very lucky with their playoff draw"
Yes, Washington was injury riddled this year when the Cavs played them in the first round this year. But last year a less experienced Cavs team played basically this same Washington team with Gilbert Arenas and with Caron Butler and they took them out in the first round.
As for Jersey, well, when you are the second seed in the playoffs, you have earned the right to possibly play a mediocre team in the second round. That’s why the teams are seeded.
Also, when you take out the number-one seed in your bracket, how can it be argued that you got an easy draw? You had to go thorough the best team (theoretically) in your conference and win at least once on their home court, how is that an easy draw? Why is it that no one is saying that the Spurs got an easy draw because they didn’t even have to play the number-one seed in their bracket? And they got the benefit of a favorable suspension in the Phoenix series, why is this not brought up?
And last, and most definitely least, as seen on many a Pistons blog:
“The officiating was unfair.”
Do you know how many total free throws the Cavs attempted in this series? 170. Do you know how many free throws the Pistons attempted in this series? 155. That is a difference of 15 free throws over the course of the six game series, or just over two more free throws per game attempted. How about total fouls called you say? Well how about 133 fouls called on the Cavs and 136 called on the Pistons, or an average of less than one more foul per game called on the Pistons. What was the aggregate score differential from the series? Cavs by a total of 22 points. So how much difference did the refs really have in this series?
There, now that we have that off or our chest, we will focus on our attention on the Finals, and the Cavs likely losing in 5 games to the San Antonio Spurs.