The 1990 Pistons and Knicks two very tough physical defensive rebounding teams. That played hard, but played well with skill especially the Pistons who won the NBA Finals that year. The Knicks were an inconsistent team that year. The difference in this series was that the Pistons were the ultimate team and unit of the NBA in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Not heavily relying really on anyone to do a lot of scoring, especially. Because they had 5-6 guys who were all capable of getting 20 points any game. With Mark Aguirre, Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, especially. They played so well as a team both offensively and defensively, that it forced their opponents to cover everybody and have to be concern with everybody that important time on the team.
The Knicks, were a much different team. That had solid talent and had the best center if not big man in the game in Patrick Ewing. But he was their only great player and All-Star. If he had a bad game the Knicks. He could have great games and the Knicks could still lose, because he was only one who stepped up. When you look back at the New York Knicks of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I think you almost have to come away with a new respect for Pat Ewing and Pat Riley, because they accomplished so much without having a lot of talent other than themselves. They had several other good players, but Ewing was their only consistent All-Star. The fact that they beat the Boston Celtics in the 1990 playoffs got to play the Pistons in semifinals, tells you how far Ewing was able to take them.
This series was really about a great team in the Pistons, who went 9-10 deep every night. With probably eight of those players able to start for most good teams in the NBA. When you’re talking about bringing Dennis Rodman and Vinnie Johnson off the bench. Rodman is now in the Hall of Fame and he’s a guy who wasn’t even a double-figure scorer in his career. But that says a lot about the quality of teams that the Pistons. Where it wasn’t about guys scoring, but about winning. And beating teams with several guys scoring and everyone playing great defense. And that was the difference in this series. A great team in the Pistons, versus a great player in Pat Ewing. With a lot of average talent backing Patrick up.