Other than Shaquille O'Neal's thigh, the hot topic heading into the Eastern Conference finals has been the Detroit Pistons' weak bench. Detroit may have the strongest starting five in the NBA, but Larry Brown has shown little faith in his reserves, and for good reason: The Pistons' microscopic bench production during the regular season has been even worse in the playoffs. That didn't stop them from breezing through the first two rounds, but it could undermine them against Miami.
Pistons fans may be saying, "So what?" A year ago, the Pistons were able to win the championship despite a second unit that underperformed in the playoffs. However, they may not be so lucky this time around. To understand the Pistons' problem, let's start by looking back at last year's title-winning team.