The All-Time Tournament: Eastern Conference Round 2
We made it to round two! Thank you to everyone who has been taking time to read these posts, it’s truly been a fun project. Today we are looking at the second round of the Eastern Conference which includes our very first seven game series of the tournament! For that series, I’m going to break each game down individually but in the other series, you’ll get an overview.
Look for the second round of the Western Conference later this week, but until then…enjoy!
East Round 2
Boston Celtics (1) vs Detroit Pistons (4)
Game 1: Pistons 100-96
The Pistons stole game one away thanks to hustle points (ironically, the same type of points current Celtics announcer Tommy Heinsohn likes to give out during broadcasts.) The Pistons out rebounded the Celtics by a fairly wide margin and stayed out of foul trouble. Detroit only committed eight fouls…at Boston Garden…in a playoff game. This is certainly a fantasy simulation, isn’t it?
Game 2: Celtics 105-93
Boston evened the series in the second game thanks mostly to a much better shooting performance than Detroit. Really, the Celtics controlled this game from the start and amassed a 19 point lead at halftime. Larry Bird was named Player of the Game after putting up 19 points, six rebounds, and 9 assists. Through two games, there haven’t been any individual performances that stick out in an eye-popping fashion. Dennis Rodman followed up a nine rebound game in the opener with 10 in game two, a bit lower than his near 19 per game he averaged against the Heat in round one.
Game 3: Pistons 116-107 OT
The Pistons returned home to the Palace at Auburn Hills for game three and took a 2-1 series lead thanks to a furious comeback from 16 down at the start of the fourth quarter and forced overtime. Grant Hill took over in overtime and outscored the Celtics singlehandedly (10-5). Ben Wallace hauled in 16 rebounds for Detroit to go with five blocks
Game 4: Celtics 125-121 OT
Larry Bird put together a monster game four to draw the series even heading back to Boston thanks to Bird’s 31 points, nine rebounds, and 12 assists. In a series that hasn’t seen either team shot particularly well, the Celtics shot 60% from beyond the arch in game 4
Game 5: Pistons 107-86
Similar to game one the Pistons dominated the Celtics on the glass by 21 rebounds. The Celtics came out flat in this game although were sparked off the bench by Paul Pierce who scored 11 points in as many minutes and Sam Jones chipped in with 10 points in 13 minutes. However, it’s difficult to remain too competitive when the second and third leading scorers on Boston played a combined 23 minutes when none of the starters, save for Bird, scored in double digits.
Game 6: Celtics 96-95
There’s a famous story with Bill Russell who, before the seventh game of the 1969 NBA Finals, looked up in the rafters at the Great Western Forum and saw that then Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke had balloons suspended above the arena in anticipation for the Lakers championship. He used the balloon placement to motivate his team and they went on to win their final title of the Russell era.
Since we’re dealing with a simulated tournament, it’s safe to assume that Russell saw the champagne in Detroit’s locker room* and told his team, “There is no way that champagne is getting popped by them!”
Russell followed that up with 10 points and 15 rebounds while the Celtics outrebounded the Pistons by 24 and more importantly, sent the series to a deciding seventh game.
*Why would the Pistons pop champagne for winning a second round series? I don’t know. You’re overthinking it.
Game 7: Celtics 107-100
After six games and two OTs, we finally have our first game seven of the tournament. All things considered, Detroit pushing the tournament’s heavy favorites to a seventh game is a moral victory for the franchise. But from everything you know about some of these Pistons, do you really think they consider any loss a “moral victory”? Didn’t think so.
In game seven, the Celtics took control of the game in with strong showings in the second and third quarters. With a twelve point lead heading into the fourth quarter and led by as much as 16 in the final stanza before opening the door to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 107-100 win.
(Celtics win series 4-3)
Series MVP: Larry Bird
It was over when…: The Celtics found a way to answer back to any run the Pistons tried to put together in the fourth quarter. The final straws came when Dave Cowans and Robert Parish both hit jumpers to extend the lead to 15 with two minutes to play.
Chicago Bulls (2) vs Philadelphia 76ers (3)
Game 1: Bulls 116-100
Game 2: Bulls 109-97
Game 3: Sixers 104-97
Game 4: Bulls 111-88
Game 5: Bulls 103-95
In a series that, on paper, should be more evenly matched than the Celtics-Pistons series, the Bulls were the better team, winning their four games by an average of more than 15 points. You could look over the box scores and point to several different reasons for such a short series: the Sixers shot poorly (their best game from the field was a 47% in game three, their lone win), Iverson wasn’t able to cross Michael Jordan over enough, or perhaps the Bulls were simply the better of the two teams.
In a situation with teams comprised of the greatest ever probably isn’t conducive to the style of game someone like Allen Iverson plays. While this is all simulated, it can’t take into account Iverson thinking to himself, “eff this, I’m taking over” before burying a few wild shots and (maybe) stepping over a fallen Jerry Sloan*.
*Momentary side note: Iverson stepping over Jerry Sloan like he’s Tyronn Lue would’ve been something I wish I could pay money to see. Sloan and Norm Van Lier were a couple of tough dudes and wouldn’t have hesitated to spend the rest of the game pounding Iverson into the floor. Of course, in a game full of tough guys this could’ve led to a Ron Artest situation (especially if the game is played in Philadelphia). So maybe it’s good that I don’t have the option to pay money to see this. I’m rambling, I apologize.
Back to the series. Moses did typical Moses stuff in this series (22.6 points per game and 18.6 rebounds) more than likely solidifying himself on one of the two all tournament teams which I’ll get to after the Finals are completed. Basically, for two rounds Moses Malone was a basketball god, unfortunately he was ousted in the quarterfinals because the Bulls simply had a more powerful weapon.
Series MVP: Michael Jordan is the only choice here. MJ averaged 28.4 points per game over the five games to go with three double-doubles.
It was over when…: …the Bulls led by 18 after three quarters in game four and the Sixers were on their way to a 111-88 loss and the brink of elimination. As we mentioned before, the Sixers weren’t having a great series from the field and game four was no different (39.4%). It was apparent that no matter what Moses did, it wasn’t going to be enough to extend the series past a game five.