Heading into Game 7, the Detroit Pistons had won three of the previous four games against the San Antonio Spurs. Point guard Chauncey Billups deserves the credit for most of the turnaround, not only for his consistent scoring but also because of his ability to hold on to the basketball.
Billups had nine assists and just five turnovers in the first two games, in which the Pistons lost by an average of 18 points. But in the next four games, Billups had 27 assists to just three turnovers -- including six assists and no turnovers in Game 6. His counterpart, Tony Parker, had 16 assists and 16 turnovers in the same stretch.
"He's created a lot of problems for us in a lot of different ways with pulling up, shooting, penetrating, finding people, being aggressive offensively," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said of Billups, who won the most valuable player award in last season's Finals against the Lakers. "He's become a consummate point guard who still doesn't get his due because he does it at both ends. He defends. I mean, he is a tough defender. At the offensive end, obviously when you can shoot the three or go to the hole or post people up, and at the same time, deliver to everybody, and not turn the ball over, that's pretty special."
The Pistons set a Finals record with four turnovers in Game 4 and had only five turnovers in Game 6. Heading into Game 7, they had just 60 turnovers in the series. The previous record for fewest turnovers in a Finals series was 87, set by the 1988 Pistons.
Coaches' Night Out
Popovich and his mentor and friend, Pistons Coach Larry Brown, dined together at a local restaurant Wednesday night, an experience Popovich described Thursday as "real special for both of us."
"We spent time together and talked very little about basketball, which is awkward because that's all we ever do," said Popovich, a former assistant under Brown and a groomsman at Brown's wedding. "We haven't talked much about why we're on the planet or what our fate might be upon death and what happens to an individual at that point. It's always napkins and salt shakers and all of the stuff that doesn't matter, drawing things, stealing from each other.
"But this was mostly talk about, you know, family and the NBA deal and now we're going to go to summer camps and you start talking about the draft and players and all that," Popovich said.
Brown Surpasses Auerbach
Brown moved ahead of Red Auerbach into third place on the all-time NBA playoff win list with 100 after winning Game 6. He also had 20 playoff wins in the ABA. Brown was asked how he'd feel if his health prevented him from coaching again and said, "I really don't want to think about that. If it happens, I've got a lot of neat things that have happened to me because of the opportunity to coach, and I'm sure I'll be doing some coaching in some capacity. I want to help the game."