Single page view By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Fascinating Game 7 last night. Miami had Detroit on the ropes with five or six different possessions in the final quarter, but every time that happened, the Heat always ended up getting a bad shot (how 'bout some of those Keyon Dooling possessions???) and allowed the Pistons to hang around. Even when Shaq was looking unstoppable down the stretch, I thought they were pulling it out.

And then this sequence happened:

2:02 remaining, Miami up 2 – Shaq kicks it back out from a double-team; Damon Jones (truly atrocious for the entire game) isn't patient enough, penetrates, leaves his feet (Bob Cousy's ultimate no-no) and throws the ball away. … Detroit roars down the court and executes a flawless fast break for a Hamilton layup. Tie score. Seriously, how many teams in the league would have gotten two points off that Jones play? Two? Three?

1:45, tie game – Shaq gets fouled, makes one of two FTs.

1:25, Miami up 1 – Rasheed posts up, draws a foul, makes both FTs.

1:15, Miami down 1 – Wade takes a terrible jumper with 15 seconds on the shot clock.

0:56, Miami down 1 – Prince misses driving layup; Rasheed tips it in for two.

0:47, Miami down 3 – Wade tied up on out-of-control, Pierce-like spin drive. Pistons win the jump ball. Of course they do.

0:20, Miami down 3 – Detroit runs shot clock down to last few seconds; Prince gets stripped, Miami gets a pseudo fast break in which Jones gets fouled (horrible call, by the way). Jones misses 1 of 2.

0:17, Miami down 2 – Billups fouled, makes both.

0:12, Miami down 4 – Alley-oop for Shaq.

0:11, Miami down 2 – Billups fouled, makes both. Game over.

Bottom line: If you allow these Pistons to hang around, you can't screw up against them in crunch time. The way Detroit takes care of business in tight games is positively Belichick-esque. That's why they won.

So the question remains: Would Miami have won this game with a healthy Dwyane Wade? I say yes, and here's why: With the exception of one productive stretch in the third quarter, he couldn't have played worse – he took bad shots, tried to do too much, didn't give them any rebounding or fast-break points. Clearly, he was three steps beyond hampered by that rib injury (note: I thought the Heat were playing possum by keeping him out of Game 6). If you were grading Game 7 against every other performance from the season, you would probably give him a D or a D-plus, and still, Miami nearly won the game. So if Wade was a B-plus instead of a D-plus in Game 7, what would have happened? You have to think Miami wins, right?

But here's the thing: Wade took an inordinate amount of punishment all season because he hasn't learned how to pick his spots yet. Just two weeks ago, I read a Sports Illustrated feature about him that brought up his reckless drives and the whacks he's taken from bigger guys, and Wade said something to the effect of, "I'm a young guy; I've been getting knocked down since I was 4 years old, so I know how to fall so I don't get injured."

Continued...


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