I noticed at least one commenter on a Bulls website saying that it was better to get obliterated by the Pistons in Game 1 than to lose in the final seconds. You hear that on occasion from teams that have gotten pounded in a playoff game. There is at least some logic to it--if you lose in the last couple of minutes, you might be kicking yourself for this or that play down the stretch that might have made the difference, and that could affect your ability to focus on the next game. Whereas if you get thumped, it's easier to put it behind you and prepare for the next one. But, isn't this...a big steaming pile of crap? I hadn't thought about it much before, but it clearly is. For one thing, what about the perspective of the winning team? Are we all saying, "gee, it would have been better to rip the Bulls' heart out in a close game than it would have been to beat the hell out of them, since now they'll better be able to focus for Game 2." Um...no. It also doesn't make sense from the perspective of the team that has just lost a close game. Back in the '04 finals, even though I was thrilled by the Pistons' Game 1 win in L.A., I still felt that the Lakers were better and that the first game might just be a fluke. But after losing Game 2 in an OT heartbreaker, in the midst of a ton of media hype about the Lakers having turned the tide of the series with fairy dust and magic elves, I became even more confident that the Pistons would win it than I was after Game 1. The things that got them Game 1--getting to the basket, shooting more FTs than LA, keeping their turnovers low, etc.--were still there in Game 2, so it was clear that Game 1 had NOT been a fluke, and that the Pistons would be in good shape back in the Palace. The psychological gremlins that the media attributed as being on L.A.'s side, with the obviously fragile Pistons now teetering on the brink of emotional collapse, were nowhere to be found. So in the context of this discussion, would it have been better for the Pistons to get trounced in that Game 2, as opposed to losing on a crazy Kobe 3 that sent it to OT? Um...no. Obviously not. And what about the Warriors against the Mavs? Dallas was stomping them in the first half of Game 5, but the Warriors came all the way back to lead by 9 in the last few minutes, before collapsing at the end. Were Warriors fans telling themselves, "man, if only we hadn't come back in that game and just rolled over, we'd be better able to focus in Game 6...now we're in worse shape to close it out"? Let me think about it...no. Obviously the ability they showed to take Dallas' best shot without folding was a key factor in maintaining their confidence and putting the Mavs away in Game 6. So should the Bulls really be glad that they got stomped in Game 1, instead of losing a see-saw battle? Now they know they're facing a dramatically better defensive team than Miami was, and with tougher matchups for the Bulls to contend with on D as well. The things they were getting consistently against the Heat weren't there at all in Game 1. Isn't that tougher to deal with than staying toe-to-toe with the Pistons and losing Game 1 in the final minutes would have been? Pretty obviously, yes. This age-old excuse is the last refuge of a team that has a steep hill to climb.