16 years ago, today!
“Y’all put it in the front page, back page, middle page, wherever. We will win Game 2.
After a clutch Reggie Miller strike handed the Detroit Pistons a deflating loss in Game 1 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, Rasheed Wallace knew it was time to make a statement, both figuratively and literally. His “Guaransheed”, as it became to known, served as a media flashpoint leading up to the second game of their series against the Indiana Pacers.
Game 2 didn’t exactly open as planned for the Pistons. A flat start yielded just 12 first-quarter points. Wallace, the man with the guarantee, connected on just 1-10 attempts from the floor in the first half. Subsequently, to the surprise of few, the Pistons trailed 43-37 at intermission.
Then things got serious.
The Pistons limited the Pacers to 11 points in the third and by the time there were two minutes left in the fourth, Detroit had built a 69-63 advantage; it appeared as though Rasheed’s proclamation would hold true. Not so fast. Miller utilized his veteran savvy to draw fouls on back-to-back plays, resulting in four unanswered points that’d cut the lead to two, and life was quickly injected back into a filled-to-the-brim Conseco Fieldhouse.
Moments later, following a Jermaine O’Neal block on Rasheed Wallace’s dunk attempt, Pistons guard Chauncey Billups was stripped as he attempted to slide into the lane with the shot clock whittling toward zero. Indiana’s Jamaal Tinsley scooped up the loose ball and fed it ahead to Miller, who had nothing but wide-open real estate between himself and the rim.
Yet, just when it seemed all hope was lost, Tayshaun Prince happened.
To those who followed the Pistons travails throughout the 2004 campaign, and perhaps dating back to 2003, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. In just a year and a half of work, Prince had carved out a niche as a guy who was liable to chase someone down and block their shot in the open floor, if they weren’t careful. But this was the Eastern Conference Finals, and that was Reggie Miller, and the space between Miller and the closest defender was just a bit too far, even for Prince. Right?
OTD (2004) Tayshaun Prince had one of the greatest blocks in NBA Playoffs history!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 24, 2020
Wrong. In the blink of an eye, Prince chased, elevated, extended, deflected Miller’s layup attempt, then involuntarily launched himself deep into the Indiana crowd.
Prince’s game-clinching block was the 26th total rejection of the game, an NBA playoff record that still stands. Both teams combined to attempt 144 shots. That means over 18 percent of all the field goals attempted that night (nearly 1 out of 5) were sent away. Meanwhile, the 72-67 final would hardly serve as an impressive halftime score in 2015.
The Pistons, of course, would ride the wave of Prince’s block all the way to a “five-game sweep” over the heavily favored Lakers in that year’s NBA Finals. As for Rasheed Wallace? He told y’all.