The Spurs and the Pistons are both defensive-oriented teams, but beyond that, they have very different styles. The Spurs are icy cool: Duncan’s poker face rarely breaks, and even when Ginobili and Parker are making their kamikaze runs into the paint, they always make it seem like they planned to run headfirst into a squadron of defenders. Everything feels intentional with San Antonio, each play executed as if it were right out of the textbook, even the broken ones. The Pistons, on the other hand, are red-hot: they get their energy from the crowd, from each other, from their coaches. They scramble for rebounds and steals, and you never know who’s going be their big scorer on any given night, or even in any given quarter. Everything feels spontaneous with Detroit, even when they burn you with the same back-pick and curl half a dozen times.

Fire beat ice tonight, but just barely, as Detroit squeaked out an 86-95 win over San Antonio. The Pistons, facing elimination, fired full bore on the Spurs — even Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince, largely silent in this series, showed up and contributed. They fought for every rebound, argued every foul call, and took care of the ball (only 5 turnovers). And yet it was barely enough to drive the Spurs off. San Antonio stayed cool throughout the game, and even when Detroit started to slowly pull away in the second half, they didn’t panic, but just kept trying to control the ball, working it inside and out, looking for the shot that would put the Pistons away. They couldn’t find it tonight, but I still can’t shake the feeling that they’ll find it in Game 7.

Unless their horrible free throw shooting sinks them. The only reason it hasn’t completely torpedoed them before now is that Detroit is barely any better from the line. Yuck.