Pistons winning with unusual style

Updated: June 14, 2004, 11:30 AM ET
By Dr. Jack Ramsay | Special to ESPN.com

The Detroit Pistons are a unique team and are winning in a unique manner.

Rasheed Wallace
APRasheed Wallace can be effective in the post when he has an advantage over a defender.
They don't have any one player who can overwhelm an opponent like the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'Neal, and Detroit is getting it done without the presence of a true big man on either end of the court.

Rasheed Wallace is the closest the Pistons have to a post-up player and he did some good things down low in Game 4, but in order to be effective in the post, Wallace has to jump over a smaller defender like Devean George or take advantage of a slow-footed defender like Slava Medvedenko. Post play is just not the best part of his game.

The Pistons are also getting the job done defensively without a big man to clog the lane. Ben Wallace plays very hard but is only 6-foot-8, so they rely on their team defensive system.

The strength of that system is the guards and small forwards who do a great job on defense. Those guys can force turnovers which lead to good fast-break opportunities, and in Game 4, that meant a 21-5 advantage for Detroit in fast-break points. The big men, Rasheed and Ben Wallace, do a great job backing up the guards. They defend the paint, block shot and rebound. That combination gets the Pistons into the open court.

So while the Pistons are not a high-scoring team, they can hold opponents to low point totals and are active and athletic enough across the board to hold their own or even win the rebounding battle. That allows the Pistons to take advantage of whatever the Lakers give them, and in this series they have made Los Angeles pay when it mattered.

Larry Brown has done a great job getting his team to hustle, play together and be unselfish at both ends of the floor, which is the best kind of game he could get them to play. Detroit has a terrific team attitude and that is as important as anything.

We have seen teams win like this in the past, but not teams that have won NBA championships. The Pistons are on the brink of a title and have gotten there in an unprecedented manner.

Dr. Jack Ramsay, an NBA analyst for ESPN, coached the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Click here to send a question for Dr. Jack for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Legendary coach and Basketball Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Ramsay served as lead game analyst for The NBA on ESPN Radio. He also contributed to ESPN.com and ESPN The Mag.

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