Friday , May , 14 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

2-to-2

All around basketball everywhere you look that’s all you see, series tied 2-2.


Miami, Indiana, Lakers, Spurs, Detroit, New Jersey all had the home teams win both of their opening two games, only Sacramento and Minnesota got splits at both venues, when did home court become THIS important? And how did the Heat manage 17 straight home wins? We’ll take a look at each individual series and see what’s going on.



2-to-2

 


All around basketball everywhere you look that’s all you see, series tied 2-2.


Miami, Indiana, Lakers, Spurs, Detroit, New Jersey all had the home teams win both of their opening two games, only Sacramento and Minnesota got splits at both venues, when did home court become THIS important? And how did the Heat manage 17 straight home wins? We’ll take a look at each individual series and see what’s going on.



Eastern Conference



New Jersey Nets vs. Detroit Pistons



Detroit looked like they had this series wrapped up after holding the Nets under 60 points in Game One then blowing them out in Game Two. But then they hit the road and became the Pistons of last year who got swept by Jersey. Two straight blowout losses in the Garden State later and this series is 2-2, the key for the Pistons collapse? Easy, they’re not hitting on all cylinders. Rasheed Wallaces’ hurt foot is limiting him and Chauncey Billups has been wildly inconsistent, the only person doing any scoring is Rip Hamilton, but unless your named Jordan it’s hard to single handedly put a team out of the playoffs.


Tayshaun Prince has to step up like he did in Game One and produce more offensively, which would free-up Ben Wallace to do what he does best, score on offensive rebounds. For the Nets, it was simple first two games all half-court and Detroit didn’t turn it over, next two games Detroit misses everything and plays sloppy which leads to Kidd in the open floor which leads to Nets victories. New Jersey has lived off the open court game with Kidd creating for himself or getting Martin easy buckets, or Kittles open three’s, if Detroit could just make shots and grind it out with their imposing defensive game as they like too, then this series heavily slants in the Pistons favor, but until they start making those shots, Kidd is going to continue his track meet style of play, and as the East has found out the past two years that fast track leads the Nets straight to the Finals.



Advantage- Gotta give it to the Nets right now; momentum, plus Wallace’s injury give a healthy Nets club the edge, with or without home-court.



Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat



Who knew? Probably not even the Heat fans had allot of hope left after the Pacers extinguished the Heat in Games 1 & 2 at Conseco Field House both double digit victories where Miami played well for about a combined 6 minutes in the two games. But a funny thing happened on the way to Miami, the Heat got some home cooking, 17 straight wins for Miami at home, including Games 3 & 4 to tie the series up. The difference? Again it was the team down 0-2 just stepping it up, Indiana didn’t play terribly in either game (except the start of Game 3 they shot horrible) but a very balanced Miami attack just out worked them.


Caron Butler, and Dwayne Wade have both been too much for the Pacers to handle and Eddie Jones, their leading scorer, hasn’t even gotten going. Jermaine O’Neal was having a quiet series even in the wins but broke out with 37 in Game


4 but the Pacers losing wasted that. Jamaal Tinsley who was huge in their wins has to start doing that each game to give the Pacers a scoring guard, because right now Reggie Miller seems unwilling to even shoot the ball (only 2 shots in Game 3) they need a guard to score to compliment what O’Neal and Artest have been doing. For Miami it’s their guard play that has gotten them back to even, Wade, Jones, and Rafer Alston have been able to get penetration at will and set up others, or get to the foul line, key for Miami is rebounding and not letting O’Neal get anywhere near 37 again.



Advantage- Indiana, their too deep and too good at home to not pull this off, though if Miami can steal one in Conseco they got a real good shot, I think home court plays the most important role in this series.



Western Conference



San Antonio Spurs vs. L.A. Lakers



Everyone thought this was over after Games 1 & 2 when Tony Parker was blowing by Laker defenders like they were glued to the floor, but as we’ve seen in all the series so far, as soon as the Lakers got back to Staples this was a whole different team. Sure Tim Duncan was still scoring and putting up solid numbers but Gary Payton showed up and started playing like the “The Glove” instead of an old mitten with lots of holes in it. And Spur killer extraordinaire Kobe Bryant came back to life including a sensational 42-point outburst after a long day in court in Game 4. Of course Shaq was doing his normal thing in both wins, but he did the same in the losses the key for the Lakers is they need either Kobe to continue to step up and play huge, or get some of that supporting cast


(Payton,Malone,George,Fisher) to contribute more on offence and more importantly on defense. San Antonio is in the same boat they were last year going up 2-0 on LA then losing 2 before finishing them off in Games 5 & 6, while they hope for a similar outcome since the Lakers have never won in the Spurs new SBC Arena, Spurs need to tighten up on Kobe and at least keep him some what under control then they need to keep scoring the ball, nothing puts more pressure on a team not playing it’s best (and the Lakers are not looking all that dominant) but putting the ball in the hoop frequently.



Advantage- Spurs. Deeper team, that has home court, and has the experience in this situation that the Lakers can’t exploit as they did in round one against Houston.



Sacramento Kings vs. Minnesota Timberwolves



Well at least here they’ve split their home games, but it still leads to the same 2-2 tie. Sacramento got a big win in Game 1 only to let Minnesota get the next two in dramatic fashion, coming back down big in Game Two then the Kings own rally in Game Three fell short in overtime. Chris Webber looked like he was back at Michigan in leading the Kings in Game Four with his 27 points and very good “D” on MVP Garnett. Peja Stojakovic has had a tough series missing a game winning shot in Game 3 and having all kinds of shooting troubles (under 40%), but for the Kings to say he’s struggling bad yet they’re tied is pretty good, thanks to the great play of Mike Bibby, and the very unheralded Brad Miller.


Minnesota has gotten all sorts of number from Latrel Sprewell from 5 points in Game 1 to 25 in Game Three Sam Cassell has been very good, and has been the consistent threat next to Garnett all season. This series is the most evenly matched and would not surprise me going 7, the key in this series is energy especially early on, in all of the first four games the team who had the lead after the first quarter won the game, the game is not won or lost in the first quarter but it sets the tone for the whole game and lets you see who’s playing with more fire.



Advantage- Sacramento, they’ve been through all this before and they seem tired of their early exits, Minnesota while not playing like “their just happy to be here” aren’t playing as well as they had in the regular season, and haven’t yet developed that playoff killer instinct.