If you wanted to see my Zo post, ask me for it and I can send it to you. I thought it was a bit much :P
I want Detroit to win. I like them because they have no big stars, they're just a bunch of really hard-working guys. And they are fundamentally sound. There's no player on the Pistons who plays unorthodoxically -- they all play their position to the T, the way they were meant to be played. It's like a well-oiled machine and grinding it's way through NBA's finest.
I hated Detroit last year.. but that was only because the beat Kobe. I disliked their playing style because I thought it dulled the game. Now I find it invigorating, watching their carefully planned out defense unfold. It's like a thing of beauty, if you can call it that. You really need to know basketball and understand the game to fully appreciate what they do.
These two teams matchup really well.
In the frontcourt, Detroit has a bunch of hybrid PFs in Wallace, Wallace, Campbell and McDyess. The combination of these guys will match up well against Duncan and Mohammed/Nesterovic. I can see Rasheed Wallace being the primary matchup with Tim Duncan, while Ben kind of hovers between the two. He's one of those guys who makes blocks out of nowhere and he will get his opportunities because Nazr and Rasho are basically decoys in the Spurs offense. From the flip side if Duncan ends up covering Rasheed, it will cause problems for the Spurs because of Rasheed's perimeter abilities. He'll be able to pull Duncan outside, thus allowing Big Ben to clean up on the offensive boards.
The midcourt is the most intriguing matchup. Tayshaun Prince will be assigned to Ginobili, and Prince will not be able to stop Manu. Ginobili is going to score 25+ every game in this series. He's gonna have his way with Detroit. On the flip side there is Bruce Bowen on Rip Hamilton. I have never been a big fan of Rip at all, and I think Bowen will shut him down almost completely.
Here's something interesting that I just thought of. What if they just let Rip guard Manu. Rip is super athletic and won't tire out, although he won't stop Ginobili, it's not like anyone can. Then they can put Prince on Barry and pretty much neutralize that threat. Prince can help Rip at times when Barry isn't in the game. No one needs to cover Bowen, he's a non-factor on offense.
Backcourt -- it all depends on which Parker shows up. I've never liked Parker because he's so inconsistent. He has the skills to put up 20/8 every night, but he doesn't do it. He could easily be as effective as Billups but more often than not he just ends up sucking. He's just one of those guys who is extremely explosive but doesn't know how to do it every night. Also I've found he's really streaky.. if he sucks in one game, it'll take him awhile to get back. He doesn't know how to "turn it back on".
Benchwise, the Spurs will kill them. With Brent Barry and Robert Horry, they have two guys who would start on most teams coming off the bench. There's also Glenn Robinson, although I don't think very highly of him. The Pistons have Arroyo, who has just about every intangible Billups has, minus the mind-boggling clutch shooting. Then there's streaky Lindsey Hunter (can you believe this guy has like 4 rings?), and Antonio McDyess. These guys are not huge impact players.
Detroit will be looking for offense from Rasheed and Big Ben. Billups will get his 20-25 points in and Prince his 15. But they can no longer rely on Rip in this series. I imagine that if Detroit plays like they always do, which is a patient game, Rip will rack up on the assists. If they don't play well, then we'll see awful 4-for-15 nights from Rip, with 5 turnovers and no assists.
I started this post thinking the Spurs would destroy the Pistons, but having written the matchups, I now feel like the Pistons even have a chance to win this whole thing. But it will be hard. Detroit can win this thing in 6 games. In fact they *have* to win it in 6 because the Spurs are such a strong home team.
Everything depends on Detroit's composure. If they can stick to their game, they can win this series. Essentially, this thing is San Antonio's to lose. Like LA, if they can just control Duncan (Shaq) and just let Ginobili (Kobe) go nuts, they can win this. I'll say this again: The two Wallaces need to score. I'm thinking 35+ from the two of them per game for Detroit to pull this off. Or, some miraculous performance from McDyess or Hunter. If one of these guys can score 15 points, it is game over for the Spurs.
You can tell that I'm reaching here in my "if Detroit can..." statements. You can tell that I think it will be a long road and that it will be very difficult. You can tell what my prediction will be. So I'm not going to say it. You know what I'm thinking so there's no point. The important thing is that I enjoy these games and cheer for the team I want to win, rather than who I predicted to win.
Therefore, I say Detroit in 6.