L.A.-Detroit remain on collision course

Originally Published: May 31, 2004
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
We're finally a week away from the NBA Finals, and if things go according to plan, both the Lakers and the Pistons will wrap up their berths in the Finals on Monday and Tuesday. Both conference finals have been close enough that it's impossible to completely rule out a Wolves or Pacers comeback, but given their relative playoff inexperience, I think you can start banking on a Lakers-Pistons Finals.

It's 1989 all over again. The new school showtime (courtesy of Celebrity Justice) versus the new school bad boys (led by Big Ben, a guy who would've scared the hell out of Bill Lambeer and Dennis Rodman back in the day).

The Lakers have proved once again that when Shaq is focused L.A. will beat anyone. With that said, I think the Pistons are really poised to give the Lakers a real scare. They're the only team in the East with a front line that can do something about Shaq and a backcourt that can handcuff Kobe. In fact, the only other teams in the league that can really make that claim are the Spurs and possibly the Kings. Still, I think that Larry Brown's refusal to get more creative offensively (by giving more playing time to guys like Mehmet Okur) will be the downfall of the Pistons.

Speaking of downfalls, have you ever heard such doomsday talk about two teams competing for an NBA title? Over the past week the Lakers and Pistons have grabbed plenty of headlines, not for what their doing on the court, but for what they might be doing off the court this summer.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer