2005 NBA Finals
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2008)|
(San Antonio Spurs)
|Announcers:||Al Michaels and Hubie Brown|
|Announcers:||Jim Durham and Jack Ramsay|
|Game 1: Mike Callahan, Ron Garretson, Steve Javie|
|Game 2: Dan Crawford, Bernie Fryer, Jack Nies|
|Game 3: Joe Crawford, Bob Delaney, Bennett Salvatore|
|Game 4: Dick Bavetta, Joe DeRosa, Eddie F. Rush|
|Game 5: Mike Callahan, Ron Garretson, Steve Javie|
|Game 6: Dan Crawford, Bernie Fryer, Bennett Salvatore|
|Game 7: Dick Bavetta, Joe Crawford, Eddie F. Rush|
|Hall of Famers:||Coaches:
Larry Brown (2002)
|Eastern Finals:||Pistons defeated Heat, 4–3|
|Western Finals:||Spurs defeated Suns, 4–1|
The 2005 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 2004-05 National Basketball Association season. The San Antonio Spurs of the Western Conference faced the Detroit Pistons of the Eastern Conference for the title, with the Spurs holding home court advantage. The series was played under a best-of-seven format. (Unlike the previous three rounds, the team with home court advantage hosted games one, two, six, and seven if all were necessary)
The Spurs won the series four games to three in the first NBA Finals to go to a Game 7 since 1994. The games were broadcast on ABC, with Al Michaels and Hubie Brown commentating. National radio coverage was provided by ESPN Radio through announcers Jim Durham and Dr. Jack Ramsay.
This series was not only the first matchup of the previous two NBA champions since the 1987 Finals (Lakers d. Celtics, 4-2), it was a match up of the two premier defensive teams of that era: from the 2002-03 season to the 2004-05 season, the Spurs and Pistons routinely finished in the top three in Points Allowed: in 2003, Detroit was #1 and San Antonio #3; in 2004, the teams finished in a tie for the #1 spot; in 2005, the Spurs were #1 and the Pistons were #2. The Spurs were considered more capable of playing at a faster pace, as evidenced by their convincing win against the high-scoring Phoenix Suns during the Western Conference Finals. However, both teams performed exceptionally well when scoring over 100 points (Detroit was 22-3, San Antonio was 28-2.
Going into the 2005 Finals, the Spurs had won two championships (1999 and 2003), while Detroit had three (1989, 1990, and 2004). The 2004 Championship was considered a major upset by some sportswriters because of the Lakers' big name talent. Others saw the result as fully legitimate, pointing out that Detroit's defense outplayed the Lakers' offense. Further, the balanced Detroit offense proved escpecially difficult to deal with when Karl Malone's injured knee left the Lakers without a reliable presence to slow down the Pistons' Rasheed Wallace. Many thought that a contributing factor to the Lakers' loss was the well-publicized tension between superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Sportswriters all across the country generally considered this one of the few too-close-to-call series to occur. Most picked the series to go to six or seven games.
The Spurs breezed through the playoffs with relative ease, compared to the Pistons. They defeated the Nuggets 4-1 to open the playoffs, winning four straight after losing the home opener. The SuperSonics were then dispatched in six games. Phoenix was expected by many to put up a challenge, but the Spurs won the series easily, four games to one.
The Pistons had a slightly tougher road back to the Finals. The opening round was a fairly easy five-game victory over Philadelphia. Next, the Pistons faced the Indiana Pacers, one of the NBA's most resilient teams. Indiana was expected by most experts to falter and miss the playoffs after the Pacers–Pistons brawl; however, led by retiring Pacers legend Reggie Miller, the Pacers still made the playoffs and unexpectedly won their first-round series against the Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics. The Pacers mounted a formidable challenge but after a Game Six loss, Reggie Miller's storied 19-year career was over. With the series ending in Indianapolis, Miller was treated to a prolonged standing ovation came from the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd. Detroit's next opponent was the East #1 seed Miami, led by superstars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. After winning Game One, the Pistons fell behind 2-1 after three games and 3-2 after five games. By winning Game Six on their home court, the Pistons forced a Game Seven. In Game Seven, Detroit overcame the odds to beat the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena, and thus advanced to the NBA Finals for the second straight year.
Road to the Finals 
|San Antonio Spurs (Western Conference Champion)||Detroit Pistons (Eastern Conference Champion)|
2nd seed in the West, 3rd best league record
|Defeated the (7) Denver Nuggets, 4–1||First Round||Defeated the (7) Philadelphia 76ers, 4–1|
|Defeated the (3) Seattle SuperSonics, 4–2||Conference Semifinals||Defeated the (6) Indiana Pacers, 4–2|
|Defeated the (1) Phoenix Suns, 4–1||Conference Finals||Defeated the (1) Miami Heat, 4–3|
Regular season series 
Both teams split the two meetings, each won by the home team:
|December 3, 2004||Detroit Pistons 77, San Antonio Spurs 80||SBC Center, San Antonio, Texas|
|March 20, 2005||San Antonio Spurs 101, Detroit Pistons 110||The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan|
Series summary 
|Game||Date||Home Team||Result||Road Team|
|Game 1||Thursday, June 9||San Antonio Spurs||84-69 (1-0)||Detroit Pistons|
|Game 2||Sunday, June 12||San Antonio Spurs||97-76 (2-0)||Detroit Pistons|
|Game 3||Tuesday, June 14||Detroit Pistons||96-79 (2-1)||San Antonio Spurs|
|Game 4||Thursday, June 16||Detroit Pistons||102-71 (2-2)||San Antonio Spurs|
|Game 5||Sunday, June 19||Detroit Pistons||95-96 OT (3-2)||San Antonio Spurs|
|Game 6||Tuesday, June 21||San Antonio Spurs||86-95 (3-3)||Detroit Pistons|
|Game 7||Thursday, June 23||San Antonio Spurs||81-74 (4-3)||Detroit Pistons|
The Finals were played using a 2-3-2 site format, where the first two and last two games are held at the team with home court advantage. The NBA, after experimenting in the early years, restored this original format for the Finals in 1985. So far, the other playoff series are still running on a 2-2-1-1-1 site format.
This was the first NBA Final to have the sticker version of the Larry O'Brien Trophy adorn the center court (team logo still visible in the middle), with the NBA Finals wordmark on opposite ends of the court. This remained in effect until the 2009 NBA Finals; the position of the O'Brien trophy was modified for the 2007 NBA Finals.
Detroit Pistons roster 
- Carlos Arroyo
- Chauncey Billups
- Elden Campbell
- Carlos Delfino
- Ronald Dupree
- Darvin Ham
- Richard Hamilton
- Lindsey Hunter
- Horace Jenkins
- Antonio McDyess
- Darko Milicic
- Tayshaun Prince
- Ben Wallace
- Rasheed Wallace
San Antonio Spurs roster 
- Brent Barry
- Bruce Bowen
- Devin Brown
- Tim Duncan
- Manu Ginóbili
- Linton Johnson
- Robert Horry
- Tony Parker
- Sean Marks
- Tony Massenburg
- Nazr Mohammed
- Radoslav Nesterovic
- Glenn Robinson
- Beno Udrih
- Mike Wilks
Game summaries 
Game One 
|Recap||Detroit Pistons 69, San Antonio Spurs 84||SBC Center, San Antonio, Texas
Referees: * No. 29 Steve Javie
|Scoring by quarter: 20–17, 17–18, 14–20, 18–29|
|Pts: Chauncey Billups 25
Rebs: Ben Wallace 8
Asts: Chauncey Billups 6
|Pts: Manu Ginóbili 26
Rebs: Tim Duncan 17
Asts: Horry, Parker 3 each
|San Antonio lead series, 1–0|
Manu Ginóbili was the star of Game One, turning in a virtuoso performance in the fourth quarter to lead the Spurs to victory. Ginobili scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to complement a huge game by Tim Duncan (24 points, 17 rebounds).
Ginobili, who in the previous summer led Argentina in points and assists en route to Olympic gold, took over in the final period. He scored eight points in a decisive 12-2 surge that gave the Spurs a 67-55 lead, then throttled a push by the Pistons with a swooping dunk, 3-pointer and running hook for an 81-67 advantage with less than two minutes to go.
Having been idle for a week, the Spurs opened the game in lackluster fashion - in the first eight minutes the Spurs trailed 19-7 - but were able to fight back and stabilize the game. It may have happened that Detroit's more recent play led to fourth quarter fatigue which enabled the Spurs' strong fourth quarter; in any case, the Spurs prevailed in the first contest.
Game Two 
|Recap||Detroit Pistons 76, San Antonio Spurs 97||SBC Center, San Antonio, Texas
Referees: * No. 7 Bernie Fryer
|Scoring by quarter: 19–30, 23–28, 21–21, 13–18|
|Pts: Antonio McDyess 15
Rebs: Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace 8 each
Asts: Rasheed Wallace 4
|Pts: Manu Ginóbili 27
Rebs: Tim Duncan 11
Asts: Manu Ginóbili 7
|San Antonio lead series, 2–0|
The resilient Detroit Pistons were expected to play a stronger Game Two in response to their fourth-quarter letdown in Game One. Exactly the opposite occurred. From the opening tip, Game Two was all San Antonio as the Spurs got out to a quick lead and never looked back.
The Spurs took advantage of Detroit's uncharacteristic mistakes throughout the night, which included missing nine shots from inside four feet from the basket. While the Pistons went cold (0-6) from behind the three-point line, the Spurs made 11 3-pointers, including four each by Manu Ginóbili and Bruce Bowen, who did not score a point in Game One. Ginobili again led the Spurs with a 27 points, while Tim Duncan finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Antonio McDyess was the high scorer for Detroit, scoring 15 points off the bench.
The 2-0 lead was a big advantage for San Antonio. In the history of the NBA, the team with home-court advantage started a series with a 2-0 lead 153 times. On just seven occasions, the trailing team rebounded to win the series.
Game Three 
|Recap||San Antonio Spurs 79, Detroit Pistons 96||The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan
Referees: * No. 15 Bennett Salvatore
|Scoring by quarter: 27–21, 15–20, 23–29, 14–26|
|Pts: Tony Parker 21
Rebs: Tim Duncan 10
Asts: Duncan, Parker 4 each
|Pts: Richard Hamilton 24
Rebs: Ben Wallace 11
Asts: Chauncey Billups 7
|San Antonio lead series, 2–1|
In NBA history, only two teams had ever won a Finals series after facing a 2-0 deficit — the Boston Celtics in the 1969 NBA Finals and the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1977 NBA Finals — however, just one year later the Miami Heat would accomplish this feat against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals.
With that task looming ahead, the Pistons responded in tremendous fashion. Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton combined for 44 points, while Ben Wallace (15 pts, 11 reb, 5 blk, 3 stl) together with Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess harassed Tim Duncan into a 5-15 shooting night. The Pistons dominated the second half, winning quarters three and four by the score of 55-37.
Detroit, in Game Three, was the first team to score more than 90 points in a Finals game against the Spurs.
Game Four 
|Recap||San Antonio Spurs 71, Detroit Pistons 102||The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan
Referees: * No. 27 Dick Bavetta
|Scoring by quarter: 17–23, 19–28, 21–23, 14–28|
|Pts: Tim Duncan 16
Rebs: Tim Duncan 16
Asts: Bowen, Parker 4 each
|Pts: Billups, Hunter 17 each
Rebs: Ben Wallace 13
Asts: Chauncey Billups 7
|Series tied, 2–2|
The pattern of the first two games held up in games three and four: home team wins big in the first one and even bigger in the second. And Game Four was the most lopsided of all during the 2005 NBA Finals.
Seven Pistons scored in double figures, with especially efficient bench performances by Lindsey Hunter and Antonio McDyess. In 22 minutes, Hunter scored 17 and dished 5 assists; McDyess scored 13 and grabbed 7 rebounds in just 19 minutes.
Conversely, only three Spurs scored in double figures (Ginobili, Duncan, Parker), and among all Spurs attempting five or more field goals, only Tony Parker (6-13, 46.2% shooting) managed to surpass the 45% mark. Collectively, the Spurs shot 37% and committed 17 turnovers to the Pistons' NBA Finals-record four.
Game Five 
|Recap||San Antonio Spurs 96, Detroit Pistons 95||OT||The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan
Referees: * No. 24 Mike Callahan
|Scoring by quarter: 21–23, 21–19, 22–21, 25–26, OT: 7–6|
|Pts: Tim Duncan 26
Rebs: Tim Duncan 19
Asts: Manu Ginóbili 9
|Pts: Chauncey Billups 34
Rebs: Ben Wallace 12
Asts: Chauncey Billups 7
|San Antonio lead series, 3–2|
With the first four games of the 2005 Finals being blowouts by the home team, Game Five was the close game everyone was waiting for, and it went down as one of the more memorable games in Finals history.
The game was closely contested by throughout the night as the lead changed 12 separate times, and the game was tied on 18 occasions. Regulation was not enough to settle this game, so the game went into overtime. The Pistons streaked out to a quick lead in the first few minutes of overtime, and seemed to have the game in hand. However, a missed layup by Chauncey Billups with Detroit ahead 95-93 with nine seconds left San Antonio with a chance. On the Spurs' next possession, Robert Horry inbounded the ball to Ginobili, who headed for the left corner and dished it right back to Horry. Rasheed Wallace had left Horry to double-team Ginobili, and Horry was left alone to sink the game-winning basket. Horry was already famous for nailing last-second shots in the playoffs, including Game Four of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Sacramento Kings.
Horry went 5 for 6 from beyond the arc, including the game-winner, and scored 21 points coming off the bench. He hadn't scored a point until the final play of the 3rd quarter. He carried the team in the fourth quarter and overtime as his teammates struggled with the weight of a must-win game on the road against an accomplished adversary. In addition to the game-winning three pointer, late in the overtime Horry made a spectacular left-handed dunk while being fouled as the shot clock wound down.
Tim Duncan, despite struggling from the free-throw line, finished with 26 points and 19 rebounds for the Spurs. Chauncey Billups was the high scorer for the Pistons, finishing with a game-high 34 points in the losing effort.
Game Six 
|Recap||Detroit Pistons 95, San Antonio Spurs 86||SBC Center, San Antonio, Texas
Referees: * No. 15 Bennett Salvatore
|Scoring by quarter: 23–23, 23–24, 25–20, 24–19|
|Pts: Richard Hamilton 23
Rebs: Ben Wallace 9
Asts: Chauncey Billups 6
|Pts: Duncan, Ginóbili 21 each
Rebs: Tim Duncan 15
Asts: Tony Parker 5
|Series tied, 3–3|
Game 6 was a close game all along, and the lead kept fluctuating between the two teams. Again, the leading stars on both teams played big games. Detroit pulled away early in the fourth for an 80-73 lead with five minutes to go, but the Spurs continued to threaten them. Soon, it was back to a one-point game.
Then, Rasheed Wallace planted a three-pointer to pull away, and even with a resilient game by the Spurs, the Pistons had clinched the victory.
Nevertheless, several Pistons free throws were necessary in the final moments of the game to put a win out of reach for the Spurs.
Rasheed Wallace had a big game to atone for the mistake he made for leaving Horry open in Game 5. Despite the fact that his mistake ultimately cost the Pistons the championship, Wallace was nonchalant about the play, even commenting incorrectly that he left Horry to guard Duncan.
Billups and Prince again led the Pistons with steady, unwavering defense, which is the key, as it is often said, to victory. Although Duncan and Ginobili finished with 21 points each, neither was able to seriously threaten the strong Pistons defense enough to win the game. Detroit thus won its fifth consecutive game facing elimination. The Pistons became the first road team to force a Game 7 in the NBA Finals.
Game Seven 
|Recap||Detroit Pistons 74, San Antonio Spurs 81||SBC Center, San Antonio, Texas
Referees: * No. 27 Dick Bavetta
|Scoring by quarter: 16–18, 23–20, 18–19, 17–24|
|Pts: Richard Hamilton 15
Rebs: Ben Wallace 11
Asts: Chauncey Billups 8
|Pts: Tim Duncan 25
Rebs: Tim Duncan 11
Asts: Manu Ginóbili 4
|San Antonio wins series, 4–3|
For the first time in eleven years, the NBA Finals came down to a decisive Game Seven. Momentum was on Detroit's side, but the Spurs had home-court advantage. The Pistons were looking to become the first team to ever win the last two games on the road after being down 3-2. NBA history was heavily in favor of the Spurs, who were looking to celebrate a title at the SBC Center for the second time in three years. NBA teams are 74-17 all-time at home in Game 7, and 9-0 when leading 3-2 going home.
Entering this game, the Pistons tied the 1994 New York Knicks for most games played in a single postseason, with 25. The Boston Celtics broke this record during their championship season of 2008.
Like the previous two games of the series, Game Seven was closely contested throughout, but the Spurs fell into a nine-point deficit with 7:45 left in the third quarter. Though Tim Duncan was for much of the series unable to shoot for a high percentage against Detroit's front line, he led the Spurs out of that nine-point hole. In the final 7:45 of the third quarter, Duncan scored 10 of the teams' 18 final third quarter points and the game was tied to start the fourth. Behind clutch plays from Tim Duncan and Manu Ginóbili, the Spurs took control of the fourth quarter to earn an 81-74 victory, clinching the franchise's third Larry O'Brien Trophy. For the game, Tim Duncan finished with a game high 25 points and 11 rebounds, while teammate Manu Ginóbili pitched in with 23 points. Richard Hamilton, with 15 points, was the high scorer for the Pistons, who fell just short of winning back-to-back championships.
Tim Duncan won his third NBA Finals MVP Award. Manu Ginóbili, Tony Parker, and Bruce Bowen each received their second championship ring, while Robert Horry became only the second player in NBA history (John Salley being the first) to play on championship teams for three different franchises.
The games were broadcast exclusively on ABC in the US. The featured song, aired throughout the playoffs, was Rob Thomas' "This Is How A Heart Breaks." Game 3 had a Nielsen rating percentage of only 7.2% of households and cumulating to a 7.1 average for the first three games, 32% lower than the average of the first three 2004 NBA Finals games. While all seven games were the top-rated shows of their nights, the average viewership of the 2005 Finals (11.5 million viewers, 7.6 rating/14 share) decreased from the average of the 2004 Finals (17.9 million, 11.5/20). The 2003 Finals averaged 9.8 million viewers and 6.5/12.
The Spurs won a franchise-record 63 victories to clinch the top seed in the West in the 2005-06 NBA season. However for the third time they were unable to win consecutive championships, bowing to their Texas rivals, the Dallas Mavericks, in Game Seven of the Conference Semifinals. The Mavs would go on to lose in the 2006 NBA Finals. The Spurs did win the 2007 NBA Finals the following year, their fourth as a franchise.
Pistons coach Larry Brown sought and succeeded in buying out his contract as head coach. He eventually ended up coaching for his hometown New York Knicks, but would only win 23 games in the 2006 season. Brown eventually left after the season, and two years later Brown resurfaced, this time coaching the Charlotte Bobcats, where he would lead them to the playoffs in his second year.
The Pistons, guided by new coach Flip Saunders, won a franchise-high 64 wins and seemed primed to regain the NBA title. However the Pistons fell in six games to the Miami Heat, who would go on and win the NBA title in the 2006 season. Franchise centerpiece Ben Wallace abruptly left for the Chicago Bulls, yet the Pistons still made the Conference Finals the next two seasons, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, respectively.
- Beck, Howard (June 17, 2008). "Celtics Remain Mindful Of a Missed Opportunity". The New York Times. p. D2. "The Celtics, who were pushed to seven games by Atlanta and Cleveland, are about to break the NBA record by playing their 26th playoff game. (The 1994 Knicks and the 2005 Detroit Pistons each played 25 games; both teams lost the finals in seven games.)"
- Heistand, Michael (June 16, 2005). "ABC's ratings for NBA Finals among lowest in history". USA Today. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
- Romano, Allison (June 24, 2005). "ABC Rises on Falling NBA Ratings". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved June 10, 2011.