NBA playoffs are packed with unforgettable moments that transcend time and are often remember years after they’ve happened. In the play that he will always be remembered for in Detroit, Tayshaun Prince did the unimaginable, soaring from one side of the court toward the other side of the backboard to swat away a layup that would have tied a critical playoff game. Prince’s block of Indiana’s Reggie Miller on a seemingly easy breakaway basket is one of those memorable moments in NBA playoff history.
This took place in Game 2 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. In the final minute of the game, Pacer star shooting guard Reggie Miller took an outlet pass after an Indiana steal and sprinted up the right sideline for a seemingly uncontested basket that would have tied the score. Prince pursued from the left sideline. Miller, presumably thinking that Prince could not catch him, attempted a layup. At the last possible moment, Prince soared in from the other side of the basket and swatted the ball away; the ball landed in bounds and was scooped up by Pistons teammate Richard Hamilton, effectively ending the game.
In Motown, it’s known simply as “The Block.” It was such an unlikely play that the opponent – the talented and hard-nosed Indiana Pacers – were shocked into disbelief.
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.
It’s worth remembering that “The Block” really was one of those rare plays that deserve to be heralded as a pivotal turning point in what might have otherwise been a disappointing season for Detroit. It had been a roller-coaster year, however, they 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.
This block represents the hard-working mentality of the Detroit Pistons as they won that series. They definitely were superstars but night after night, season after season they got it done.