DAR Sports: 1988 NBA Finals- Pistons vs Lakers

By @TrueGodImmortal 

The NBA Finals in the 1980s were dominated essentially by one team if we're being honest: The Los Angeles Lakers. When speaking of the most dominant team in the West, the Lakers were head and shoulders above the rest appearing in every NBA Finals except two(the Houston Rockets would appear in the two that the Lakers didn't make). They finished out the 80s with 5 championships, and as I just mentioned, appeared in every single Finals of the decade except two. During the early-mid 80s, the Lakers had two great East rivals in the Finals: the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics. These two rivalries are honestly known as two of the best ever, though the Lakers vs Celtics is definitely more highlighted. As the 80s were coming to a close, the Celtics were losing their hold as the team of the 80s in the East. A new force was rising, and preparing for to takeover: the Detroit Pistons.

In many ways, basketball at the time, was all about creating dynasties. These days, it is sincerely focused on the players more so than the actual dynasty, unless you're talking the Spurs or the Lakers(early 2000s) from the last 15 years. In this era, you had certified Hall of Famers working together to build and gain as many rings as possible. The Lakers had won the title in 1987, beating their rival Celtics, and finished the 1987-1988 season with the best record in the league at 62-20. They seemed poised to make another run at the title, and after victories over the Spurs, Jazz, and Mavericks, they would make it back to the Finals yet again. The Pistons had to go through the Bullets, the Bulls, and the Celtics to make it to the Finals. The stage was set. The Pistons. The Lakers. Could the Pistons assert a new era of dominance in the NBA? Or would the Lakers continue their run?

*Game 1

-The Lakers had home court advantage and somehow that didn't matter in game 1. The Pistons looked good in this one, having been refreshed from a 5 game series win over the Bulls and a 6 game series win over the Celtics, while the Lakers had back to back 7 game series to overcome. Adrian Dantley was superb in the game, shooting 14 from 16 in the field and finishing with 34 points to help lead the Pistons over the Lakers 105-93. Magic attempted to keep the Lakers in the game and finished with 28 points and 10 assists, but that would not be enough to will them to victory. The Pistons had the momentum on their side. Could they keep it going in game 2?

*Game 2

-Magic Johnson was said to have had the flu going into game 2, so his team came out with a chip on their shoulder and played as hard as they could. Magic despite the flu, finished this game with 23 points and 11 assists as the Lakers evened up the series 1-1 with as 108-96 win. The momentum had shifted in the Lakers favor as James Worthy would lead all Lakers players with 26 points and Byron Scott would contribute 24 points as well. Those three made up a strong amount of the Lakers offense and willed them to victory. The Pistons would head back home to Detroit and try to take at least 2 of the 3 games at home. Could they do it?

*Game 3

-That mission got off to a bad start, as the Lakers won this game, 99-86. Magic was still fighting off the flu, but ended up posting 18 points, 14 assists and 6 rebounds, a testament to his greatness for sure. The Pistons couldn't get their rhythm together in this game unfortunately, and while Isiah Thomas had 28 points and 9 assists, it just wasn't enough for them. James Worthy would finish with 24 points and 9 rebounds to lead the charge and the Lakers carried more momentum into game 4. Could the Pistons regroup and grab the next two games or would the Lakers stop the series from going back home to LA?

*Game 4

-The Pistons managed to pull this one out and even the series up at 2-2, with an amazing blowout victory 111-86. Adrian Dantley led the team with 27 points, Isiah managed to play tremendously, and Magic Johnson got into foul trouble and couldn't will the team back to victory, despite finishing with 23 points and 6 assists. Could the Pistons take the final of the 3 games at home and be in the driver seat to win the championship? Or would the Lakers manage to recover in the crucial game 5?

*Game 5

-The farewell game to the Pontiac Silverdome proved to be a big one for the Pistons as they took a vital lead in the series 3-2 after a 104-94 victory over the Lakers. The Lakers played well, but just not on the level that the Pistons completed at, as after a solid first quarter by the Lakers, the Pistons came back strong in front of a nice crowd of 41,000 rooting for them and cheering them on. This game would be a nice one for Kareem Abdul Jabbar however, as he finished with 26 points to lead all Lakers scorers, and Magic would dish out 17 assists in a losing effort. Adrian Dantley and Joe Dumars were vital in this game it seemed, as Dantley scored 25 points to keep up his production in the series so far, and Dumars finished with 19 points. With game 5 in the bag and the Pistons hitting their goal of taking at least 2 of the 3 games at home, the pressure was on the Lakers to make something happen and will themselves to victory in game 6. Could they do it??

*Game 6

-The Pistons wanted to the title. Badly. The Lakers wanted another championship. Game 6 came down to hunger and who really wanted to win the most, because the game was back and forth. The story of this game is rooted in controversy and an epic performance from Isiah Thomas. He wanted that title bad and he would put up 43 points and 8 assists, including 25 in the third quarter. With the score 102-99 in the final minute or so, it looked like the Pistons had the game won. Byron Scott made it 102-101 with a jumper and a controversial foul on Bill Laimbeer to Kareem which led to him getting two free throws to win the game 103-102. The Pistons were so close to taking the title, but they would not be deterred and would go Into game 7 ready to take the title, but one problem manifested: Isiah Thomas had an ankle injury that occurred during the 3rd quarter show he put on, and it would lead many to wonder if he would be as effective for the final game of the series.

*Game 7

-This is what it all comes down to. The final game. The last game in the series. Who wins? Who loses? Who wants it more. Game 7. The Pistons seemed hungry, but Isiah Thomas was still feeling the effect of his ankle injury and it truly showed in his performance in the game, along with his noticeable limping. Joe Dumars took over some, finishing with 25 points and attempted to keep things close, but the Lakers managed to pull out a close victory to win the title 108-105, lead by the huge triple-double from James Worthy of 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. This would be the moment that decided Worthy as Finals MVP. Worthy, also known as Big Game James, would collect the Finals MVP for his performance throughout the series, and the Lakers would celebrate back to back championships. For the Pistons, they would find themselves back in this same place the next year against the Lakers. This time, the Pistons swept the Lakers. Regardless, the Pistons put a great effort in the 1988 Finals, but it just wasn't enough to overcome the Showtime Lakers.

Your 1988 NBA Champions, Los Angeles Lakers!



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