Steinmetz: Spurs-Pistons are lesser of all evils 

No doubt, ABC executives and casual basketball fans are dreading what looks to be inevitable: A San Antonio Spurs-DetroitPistons NBA Finals.

The scouting report on the Spurs says they have a dominant but boring superstar and a methodical and plodding style of play. The report on the Pistons is even worse — a team with no superstars and a defense-first mentality.

Not exactly a Bird-Magic Finals.

Making this potential matchup even tougher to swallow was the excitement that the Phoenix Suns and Warriors created in the playoffs, displaying wide-open, fastbreaking styles that contrasted with just about every other team out there.

But with all that said, here’s a reality: A San Antonio-Detroit Finals is the best possibility out there.

Think about it. What would be better? The fact that there has to be an Eastern Conference representative in the NBA Finals really does limit things greatly. Other than the Pistons, which team do you want?

Do you really want to see the Miami Heat pound it into Shaquille O’Neal two or three dozen times a game and when they don’t watch Dwyane Wade work his way to the foul line 18 times?

Or perhaps you are looking for an NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, featuring a reluctant superstar in LeBron James and his overly ordinary supporting cast. Nothing like watching Damon Jones spot up from beyond the arc while waiting for James to make his move. Now that’s compelling.

Would it have been a good thing if the 82-points-per-game Chicago Bulls would have wound their way to the championship round? Of course not.

The Pistons, who combine unselfishness with an edge, are the perfect Finals team, at least as far as the East is concerned.

As for the Western Conference, don’t be so quick to label the Spurs hum-drum. They boast the league’s best player in Tim Duncan, a wholly unpredictable and hard-nosed Manu Ginobili and the still blossoming Tony Parker.

San Antonio’s reputation for defense is well-earned but take a closer look at their postseason.

After shutting down the Denver Nuggets in five games, the Spurs were virtually run-and-gun in the second round against the Suns. They gave up 100 or more points to Phoenix in five of six games — and scored 100 or more themselves in half those games.

Against Utah, the Spurs have both scored and given up triple-digits in points in half of the four games thus far. No, it’s not exactly the Showtime Lakers, but then again, it doesn’t exactly resemble your typical 79-76 playoff game of the late 1990s between Miami and New York.

True, it would have been interesting to see the Suns bring their one-of-a-kind style to the Finals. Interesting? Yes. But as far as matchups go, a Suns-Pistons matchup would pale in comparison with a Spurs-Pistons matchup.

The Spurs and Pistons have a history. Two years ago they met in a classic NBA Finals, a seven-gamer that featured Robert Horry’s game-winning 3-pointer in Game 5 and a Game 7 that Detroit still feels like it let slip away.

What could be better than a rematch?

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.


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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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