|Pistons' championship window might be closed|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 02 June 2007 17:59|
This year, for sure.
Maybe in the near future, too.
The Cleveland Cavaliers beat Detroit 98-82 Saturday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, eliminating the East's top-seeded team with four straight wins that likely will lead to an uncertain offseason.
Anything is possible.
Coach Flip Saunders might only match the two-year tenure that his predecessors, Larry Brown and Rick Carlisle, had before exiting with a buyout and a firing, respectively.
Chauncey Billups, who is expected to be one of the NBA's top free agents this summer, may also be elsewhere next season. Chris Webber will be a free agent, too.
The Pistons may also decide they're tired of Rasheed Wallace's act.
Wallace needed to be restrained from physically going after an official after getting ejected with two technicals early in the fourth quarter as the Cavs pulled away.
The Pistons used to win games when they faced adversity, but they simply crumbled against the Cavs.
On the brink of elimination or with a chance to advance, the Pistons are 20-3 dating back to 2003 with three current starters playing key roles. The setbacks in the pressure-packed situations came Saturday night, as defending champions in Game 7 of the 2005 NBA finals against San Antonio and in Game 6 of the conference finals last year to Miami.
When the Cavs took control away early in the fourth quarter, Saunders put his hands on his head and watched in disbelief from the sideline as LeBron James stole a pass and scored at the other end of the court on a three-point play.
While Detroit's run might be over, it certainly was one the franchise could be proud of, with five straight conference finals appearances, two NBA finals and one championship.
Since 1984, only the Los Angeles Lakers have been more consistent in the playoffs, with a run that ended with a sixth straight conference finals appearance in 1989.