Originally Posted by shady6121
Since I began watching basketball in 1990, I think the '04 Pistons definitely have a strong case for being the biggest underdogs to ever win a ring. I think the Mavericks would be next in line. The 1995 Rockets seem like a good pick in theory, as they were a middling sixth seed coming into the playoffs. However, they were accepted as being more than formidable by the time they reached the final round, as god mode Hakeem took his team through Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and David Robinson en route. To a lesser extent, the Mavs also established themselves throughout the playoffs, making relatively quick work of Kobe and KD in back to back rounds.
Conversely, even as the Pistons entered the NBA Finals, it was more or less accepted they could not score. They won their four games in the Eastern Conference Finals with scores of 72, 85, 83 and 69. It didn't seem anyone wanted to account for pace and defense. I mean, they'd say, "Yeah, the Pistons are great defensively" but then they'd follow up with, "They just can't score though."
Then, on the other side, a team of destiny awaited them. Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone. Most treated it as a foregone conclusion that L.A. would make quick work of Detroit in four or five games, perhaps defeating them 100-70 each game because that's pretty much how many points each team averaged in the conference finals. I often bring this up, but I still remember an analyst, with a straight face, foreeeing a convincing Finals victory for the Lakers because when they won the Western Conference, Karl Malone and his teammates didn't celebrate. Meanwhile, the Pistons did
celebrate, so apparently they weren't "all business" and subsequently wouldn't have what it took to win.
I see a lot of similarities between those Dallas and Detroit runs. History has seemed to treat the '04 Pistons quite well but at the time, no one really entertained the idea of Detroit doing what they did.
Originally Posted by SCdac
If anything, it proves that:
A) public perception doesn't mean shit
B) paper match ups don't mean shit
That was one of the realizations I came to after '04. I used to be relatively trusting of the word of analysts. But all that pre-finals talk of Lakers domination (due to their offensive firepower) just didn't add up for me. I kept thinking, "But the Pistons have been on one of the best defensive runs in NBA history. Don't these same people always say 'defense wins championships'?" It's a little crazy to think it took that long to come to that realization.