The Great Debate: The Lakers stop here: The bad boys are back

I don’t really like the Detroit Pistons, but the hate I have for the Lakers has turned me into the Pistons’ biggest fan in their quest for an NBA title.

That’s why it brought me great joy to watch Detroit shut down the Lakers and win Game 1 in L.A. Make no doubt about it, the Lakers will lose the series.

I know what all the Laker faithful are thinking to themselves right now: “It’s happened before. We’ll still win like we did in 2001.”

Three years ago, the Lakers lost Game 1 in the NBA Finals to the Philadelphia 76ers, but went on to win the next four games en route to their second straight title.

But comparing that series to this one would be like comparing apples and oranges.

In 2001, the 76ers had Allen Iverson and a bunch of role players who got more credit than they deserved.

In the Game 1 victory, the 76ers clawed their way to victory and it was almost their last gasp before the Lakers imposed their will.

L.A. stopped Iverson and effectively stopped the entire squad, but they can’t use that same strategy with the Pistons. Detroit can expose the Lakers’ weaknesses and they proved it in Game 1.

Shaquille O’Neal had the clear advantage over Ben Wallace in terms of size and the Pistons let him do what he wanted, but they made sure nobody else made a huge impact. Kobe Bryant did have 27 points, but he did that by shooting the ball 27 times.

Not impressive.

Karl Malone and Gary Payton combined to score seven points and the entire Laker squad seemed befuddled by the Pistons’ defense.

On the offensive end, Chauncey Billups took advantage of the Lakers’ ineptitude at guarding the pick-and-roll and scored a team-high 22 points.

Richard Hamilton, who had been the team’s leading scorer throughout the playoffs, had a bad game and the Pistons still controlled much of the game.

Hamilton’s play is critical to the Pistons’ defensive success in this series, whether or not his shots fall.

He does not stop running off screens and guess who has to guard him for the entire series? Kobe.

Bryant was getting very tired at the end of the game and most of his shots were falling short, but what can the Lakers do? They can’t take Bryant off Hamilton or else Rip will easily take over the game and trounce the Lakers.

On the offensive end, Bryant not only has to deal with fatigue, but he has also deal with Tayshaun Prince, who is strong defensively.

The defensive tactics that the Pistons use cannot be imitated by the Lakers, considering the amount of players who can make a difference for the Pistons.

The only player that could potentially double off his man is Shaq, but that leaves Wallace alone to snag all the rebounds.

The addition of Rasheed Wallace in the middle of the season was huge in order to bolster an already athletic defense, along with adding a guy who can easily score 20 points if he gets the opportunity.

The Pistons didn’t have to claw their way to a victory in Game 1, like the 76ers did three years ago, and everything they did in Game 1 can be duplicated through the rest of the series.

The final difference between the 2001 series and this one is the fact that the Lakers are much more vulnerable this season. Then, they lost one game throughout the entire playoffs. This year, they have already lost six games.

Face it, Laker fans, it’s over and I am going to be laughing when Billups is named the NBA Finals MVP. Wait, that is disgusting.

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