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Breaking Pistons news and analysis of developments within the team and around the NBA.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Well, now the Pistons don’t look so bad in comparison to the Celtics, do they?
Boston’s aura of invincibility was shattered over the past two games by the young, athletic, carefree Hawks, a team that nearly everyone thought would get swept in the first round. Josh Smith has earned himself a large, long-term contract with his performance and Mike Woodson’s job might have been spared.
In all probability, the Celtics and Pistons will put away their pesky underdogs before reaching an all-or-nothing Game 7. Boston and Detroit are teams that are supposedly built for the playoffs but they’re built to play the serious contenders, not quicker understudies with experienced point guards who have nothing to lose.
At halftime of Game 4 in the Pistons-Sixers series, one of the other beat writers turned to me and asked if I was going to bury them. I said, ‘I’ll give them one more half.’ I couldn’t believe they would keep playing that way and that Billups and Hamilton would continue to shoot like Big Ben on tranquilizers.
After watching the first two minutes of the second half from my press row seat, I said out loud to no one in particular, ‘That’s the team I’ve been covering all season.’ I knew after seeing back-to-back 3s by Billups and Sheed, their confidence was back and they were going to win.
Other musings:
Looks like McDyess is a sixth man again but I don’t know if they can do that in the conference semis (OK, if they MAKE the semis). Orlando’s big frontcourt might require a bigger body than Maxiell’s from the start.
Conventional wisdom in the Western Conference playoffs has held up in the first round (Of course, I was a contrarian and picked the Suns). The Lakers and Spurs appear to be on a collision course and that would be a terrific slugfest.
The only surprise has been the poise of the Hornets, who are playing just as effectively as they were during the regular season. Explosive, frisky Chris Paul has destroyed Jason Kidd, reinforcing the stupidity of the Mavs’ trade with the Nets. At least with Devin Harris, Dallas might have had a fighting chance of defending Paul.
The only Western playoff club that has more issues than the Mavs are the Nuggets, who were easily swept out of the playoffs. The Melo-AI-Karl trio is a toxic mix and needs to be broken up.
Anthony is the league’s most fraudulent superstar - gets pulled over for allegedly drinking and driving right before the playoffs, calls everyone on his team and his coach quitters when they go down 3-0 and blows layup after layup. I’m still wondering how he led Syracuse to a national championship as a freshman.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Heading into downtown Philadelphia Thursday night, I
saw a huge tractor pushing around a huge pile of junk
just off the highway.
The stench wasn't nearly as bad as the Pistons' Game 3
stinker here Friday nght.
How bad was it? The team that made the fewest
turnovers this season in the entire league had 25.
Their regular-season high was 18. They surpassed that
by the end of the third quarter, which was easily the
worst quarter I've seen them play in a meaningful game
since I started covering these guys in 2000.
They didn't make a two-point basket in the quarter;
They hit two 3s early on and that was it.
Just inexcusable. Chauncey Billups denied his team
lost composure but if it looks like a skunk and smells
like one, well, you know the rest.
Bottom line: Game 4 is pivotal in the direction this
franchise will head over the coming years. If the
Pistons go down 3-1, I can't see them recovering. And
if they lose this series, they HAVE to change the
We'll find out more later today on Antonio McDyess,
who had his nose broken in the third quarter Friday.
If he can't play, Jason Maxiell will probably start.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The last thing the Pistons need after losing Game 1 is
an injury to one of their regulars. That's why it was
alarming to see Chauncey Billups walking slowly and
flexing his right knee after practice.
According to Billups and Flip Saunders, it was just
some minor soreness. Billups attributed it to a tough
practice while walking to his car after leaving the
practice facility, though he was held out of a
practice last week because of soreness.
"I'm all right," he said several times.
Saunders didn't act concerned, either.
"Chauncey's always in a situation where he gets hit a
little bit but he's OK," he said.
It doesn't look like a major development but it's
obviously something to monitor in the coming days.


You've got an opponent that can't make 3-pointers.
Their offense is predicated on pick-and-rolls and
penetration. What to do?
The obvious answer is to zone them up and dare them to
shoot outside. I fully expect Flip Saunders and the
Pistons to do just that in Game 2 of their Eastern
Conference series.
My gut reaction to the Pistons' defensive strategy was
that they felt they could stop the Sixers without
resorting to any junk defenses. Time to try Plan B.
The Sixers got 44 points in the paint in Game 1.
Zones leave teams suspectible to offensive rebounds
but the Sixers get those anyway. If guys like Andre
Miller, Willie Green and Andre Iguodala are forced
into a steady diet of 20- and 25-footers, the Sixers'
offense will be a mess.

Friday, April 18, 2008


What are the chances that the Pistons will win the NBA
Las Vegas oddmakers believe there's a decent chance of
that happpening. They're the fourth choice behind the
Celtics, Lakers and Spurs to win it all.
According to, Boston is the 3-2 choice,
followed by the Lakers at 3-1, San Antonio at 11-2
(5.5-1) and the Pistons at 13-2 (6.5-1).
It's somewhat surprising to me that the Pistons have
longer odds than the Spurs, who have a much tougher
road to make the Finals. They have to beat
fifth-choice Phoenix (8-1) just to get out of the
first round.
Other Pistons' related odds - chances of winning the
Eastern Conference title - 5-2, with Boston the 1-2
choice. Philadelphia, the Pistons' first-round
opponent, is a 50-1 proposition to reach the Finals.
The most likely outcome in their first-round series is
a 4-1 Pistons victory (5-2 odds).
Chauncey Billups is a 15-1 shot to win the Finals MVP
while Richard Hamilton is 20-1 and Rasheed Wallace is
The Pistons practiced Friday after taking the day off
Thursday. Everybody's healthy and available for
Sunday's opener.
Flip Saunders wouldn't say who would be on the 12-man
active list for Game 1.
Cheikh Samb and Walter Herrmann will surely be
deactivated; The other will be Lindsey Hunter or Juan
I don't think Hunter will play much in this series;
he's a defensive specialist and the Sixers are
probably the worst offensive team in the playoff

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The Pistons didn't have to wait until the last day of the season after all to learn of their first-round opponent. Toronto's win over Miami Monday night, couple with Philadelphia's controversial, last-second loss to Cleveland, assured a Pistons-Sixers matchup.
That's not the best-care scenario. The Pistons likely would have swept the Raptors, who slumped in the second half and got beat by Detroit's 'B' squad at The Palace Sunday. Philly defeated the Pistons in the last two meetings, though the last one was a throwout because the starters played limited minutes and Rip Hamilton didn't play at all.
Andre Miller is a much tougher matchup for Chauncey Billups than the Raptors' point guards and the Sixers have a lot of young athletes who can run the break and crash the boards. Andre Iguodala is a borderline All-Star, much like his counterpart, Tayshaun Prince. And the Sixers have an improved bench, led by rookie Thad Young, Louis Williams and Rodney Carney.
But most of the Sixers don't have any playoff experience. The Pistons can also turn it up several notches in the playoffs, while the Sixers were playing at max level during their second-half surge.
Philly might steal one at home but that's about it. The Pistons have way too much talent and depth to get a serious challenge from the Sixers.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Like other beat writers around the NBA, I received my postseason ballots last week. Since there are four papers that cover the Pistons home and away, the ballots are split up. I'm voting on the Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man and Most Improved Player. The latter is by far the toughest to select.
The Lakers' Andrew Bynum would have won that award hands-down if he hadn't injured his knee midway through the season.
There is no set criteria, so it's basically a judgment call. Do you include high lottery picks who got more chances to play in their second or third year - or should they be downgraded by the fact they're SUPPOSED to excel? Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge has put up much better numbers in his second season but that's because Zach Randolph got traded.
How many years can you be in the league and still win the award? The Orlando Magic are touting Hedo Turkoglu, who's enjoying a career year but has been around since the 2000-01 season.
Indiana's Mike Dunleavy, who has thrived in Jim O'Brien's free-flowing attack, is both a high lottery pick and a guy who's been around awhile.
Minnesota's Al Jefferson is putting up imipressive stats on a bad team but he did that on a slighly smaller scale in Boston last year.
Should an unheralded player be given extra credit? There's plenty of those around, including Washington's Andrey Blatche, Dallas' Brandon Bass, Sacramento's Beno Udrih, Toronto's Jose Calderon, Utah's Ronnie Brewer, Philadelphia's Louis Williams and Denver' Linas Kleiza.
Which player did I pick? I'll reveal my choices for all the postseason awards in my weekly column in Sunday's Oakland Press.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


For a while there, it seemed a pretty safe bet the Pistons would play Philly in the opening round. The Pistons are going to finish second but the No. 7 seed, their first-round opponent, is very much up in the air. The possibilities have stretched to four teams.
Toronto's tumble in March, coinciding with a knee injury to Chris Bosh, brought it back to the pack. Washington has a three-game losing streak but the first two were at the tail end of a West Coast trip. The Sixers are playing better than either of those teams and now tied with them for the fifth-best record.
Suddenly jumping into the picture is eighth-seed Atlanta, which has won five straight and need only catch one of the above to play the Pistons instead of the Celtics in the first round.
The Sixers and Hawks play a home-and-home this weekend; Otherwise, the Hawks have a soft road schedule the rest of the way (Indiana, New York, Miami).
The Raptors' entire remaining schedule, except for a road game at The Palace, is extremely squishy. They've got 2 vs. New Jersey and singles vs. Charlotte, Milwaukee, Miami and Chicago.
With games vs. the Eastern Conference's top 3 - Boston, Detroit and Orlando - Washington has the toughest remaining road. The Sixers still have to play the Pistons and Cavs. The Wiz and Sixers also have a biggie against each other on the 12th.
Bottom line: The Pistons may not know who they're playing until the regular season shuts down on the 16th.