Blogs > Pistons' Point

An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Richard Hamilton, who hyperextended his right elbow
near the end of Game 5, will play tonight.
Hamilton took part in the morning shootaround with a
protective sleeve on his elbow.
"This is now or never," he said. "I talked to my dad
and he said, 'Man, just spit on it. You're all right.'
We're at war right now. You ain't go no choice to sit
down or anything like that. I feel all right. I feel
good enough to go out and play."
Other items: Rasheed Wallace, who was fined $25,000 by
the league for derogatory comments about the
officials, showed up late for the shootaround. He
pulled in approximately 15 minutes after it was
supposed to start.
Look for more ball pressure by the Pistons tonight,
especially when they go to their bench. Doc Rivers has
virtually abandoned his backup point guards, so Rajon
Rondo won't get much rest.
I'll give the Pistons a 95 percent chance of winning
tonight. I just don't think Boston will have a
closeout mentality here after winning two Game 7s at
home in the first two rounds. Plus, the Celtics played
about as well as they could - crushing the Pistons on
the boards, Garnett scoring 33, Ray Allen busting out
of his slump in a big way - and they had to hold on
for dear life to win Game 5. I can't see them
duplicating that performance here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Following the Pistons' big Game 4 victory on Memorial
Day, Flip Saunders cancelled practice. He didn't want
them to expend any more energy before heading to
Boston Tuesday afternoon for Game 5 Wednesday night.
They'll watch some film when they get there, then have
a shootaround Wednesday morning.
"We weren't going to do much today anyway," Saunders
It should benefit Antonio McDyess, Jason Maxiell,
Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups the most. McDyess
and Maxiell had to be drained physically after
guarding Kevin Garnett and pounding the boards along
with being the two offensive stars in the game.
Prince's shooting has declined the last two games, in
part because he's focused on limiting Paul Pierce.
Billups looked a lot better physically in Game 4 than
he did two nights earlier, though he still didn't
shoot well. Any extra time he gets to rest his sore
hamstring is welcome.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Wow, how things can turn around in one game.
After the Pistons' road win at Boston in Game 2, many
fans here were already thinking of a Lakers-Pistons
Finals. The Celtics' convincing victory in Game 3
Saturday night has everyone singing a different tune -
how can the Pistons possibly recover?
It's unlikely. They now have to win again in Boston
and not squander another game at home.
Most alarming is the condition of Chauncey Billups. He
looked fine in Game 2 and engineered a brilliant
offensive performance by his club.
But he couldn't sustain it and the hamstring he
strained in the second round was clearly affecting
him. He was slow and uncomfortable from the opening
tap. He was passing up shots and hanging around the
perimeter, rather than attacking the basket.
Rodney Stuckey is growing up before our eyes but the
Pistons can't win this series without getting more
from Billups.
One silver lining: The Celtics were in control most of
the way in their two victories, especially Game 3. Put
some heat on them and their facade of invincibility
crumbles. The Pistons have to get off to better starts
to keep the pressure on the Celtics throughout the

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Cleveland lost the first two games of the conference
finals last season, so Game 2 tonight isn't an
all-or-nothing proposition. But I don't see the
Pistons winning the series unless they steal this one.
Doc Rivers spins his team's Game 1 performance by
saying it was feeding off the emotion of the last
series and that the fatigue might set in tonight.
The Pistons should hope he's right but they need to
rely on better execution and give Boston more looks
defensively on pick-and-rolls and isolations.
Rasheed Wallace can't shoot any worse and Chauncey
Billups can't be any more passive than they were in
Game 1. I also have to believe they'll get the ball to
Rip Hamilton and let him take over for a stretch. When
they struggle to score, he's still the one guy who can
provide steady points.
Aside on Rip: He was assessed a flagrant foul, penalty
one for a fourth-quarter foul in Game 1. A suspension
only kicks in if it's a penalty two infraction.
Penalty one simply deals with unnecessary contact.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Suns general manager Steve Kerr flew into Detroit
Thursday to interview Flip Saunders' assistant, Terry
Porter, for Phoenix's head coaching job. Porter is one
of several candidates Kerr plans to interview.
In terms of the Pistons, I don't see this as a
distraction. Top assistants on winning teams are
usually hot prospects when new jobs open up. Even if
Porter is offered the job before the playoffs end, the
Pistons have too many vets to let it affect their
focus or preparation.
It's no secret that Porter felt he got the rug pulled
out from under him in Milwaukee before joining
Saunders' staff. Porter has been looking for another
chance to prove himself and the Suns job is as good as
he's going to find.
Kerr wants the Suns to get away from the run-and-gun
style that has served them so well in the regular
season and flopped so badly in the postseason. Even
with Shaq on his last legs and all the mileage on
Steve Nash's legs and back, the Suns have several
pieces in the prime of their careers and a dominant
superstar in Amare Stoudemire capable of delivering 30
points a night.
Porter's possible departure would not affect Joe
Dumars' long-term plan with his coaching job. If
things go sour with Saunders, Michael Curry is the
heir apparent to the Pistons' coaching throne.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Accusations made against USC freshman and likely
lottery pick O.J. Mayo accentuate the flaws in the
NBA's current eligibility system. I have no way of
knowing if Mayo accepted $30,000 or so in monetary
gifts to steer him toward a particular sports agency
that represents pro athletes. But it certainly
wouldn't surprise anyone if he did.
There was a noble purpose to the rule preventing high
school seniors from entering the draft, which was
mutually agreed upon by the league and its players in
the most recent collecting bargaining agreement.
Commissioner David Stern was determined to get his NBA
scouts out of high school gyms and away from AAU
No doubt, the rule has helped the college game in some
ways. Supremely talented players like Kevin Durant,
Greg Oden and Michael Beasley drew attention to
themselves, their teams and the college game by
becoming stars in their one-and-done seasons.
The fundamental problem is that these kids have no
intention of graduating, nor any incentive to go to
class after their first semester. They're basically
mercenaries looking to improve their draft positions
while the schools they sign with sell their souls for
a shot at a national title.
I've always like the rules regarding college baseball
and football, where players have to stay at least
three years before bolting for the pros. It shows that
the player is truly committed to being a college
student as well as an athlete. It also brings
stability to those sports, rather than the volatile
turnaround we see in basketball.
So what to do with the cream of the crop that have no
real interest in going to college without going back
to the old system? Use the NBA Development League as
their training ground. High school seniors can
announce their intention of going into a special
Development League draft. Then, they can spend a year
with NBA-quality coaches and face fringe NBA prospects
and young players that the NBA teams have drafted and
sent down for seasoning, like the Pistons did with
Cheikh Samb this season.
After serving a one-year apprenticeship in the
Development League at a modest salary, those players
would be eligible for the NBA draft. This would
certainly stir more interest in the NBA's
developmental program while giving those players a
taste of what NBA-caliber competition is like. Players
like Mayo would prepping for their careers, rather
than carrying on the masquerade of being

Monday, May 12, 2008


The news about Chauncey Billups after Monday's
practice was not earthshattering.
He did some side work with strength and conditioning
coach Arnie Kander but did not practice. He's still
considering questionable for Tuesday's Game 5.
Billulps will test out his strained right hamstring
during the team shootaround.
Kander says there hasn't been any setbacks and that
Billups has made progress every day.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Juan Dixon scored in double digits the last five times
he put on a Pistons uniform. That was during the
closing weeks of the season, when the Pistons were
resting their starters and giving their reserves some
Move Dixon to the Orlando Magic and he'd be their
first player off the bench. But as a Piston, Dixon has
not even been activated during the playoffs.
Though Chauncey Billups might not play in Game 4 of
this series, Dixon will probably remain inactive while
Lindsey Hunter trades a suit for a jersey.
That's the fundamental difference between the Orlando
Magic and Pistons. You can talk about the disparity between the
starting backcourts between the two teams but the real
gap is between their reserve corps. The Pistons bench
has outscored the Magic's reserves in the first three
games 63-34.
It goes beyond just offense. The Pistons also have
guys who can impact the game defensively (Arron
Afflalo, Theo Ratliff, Walter Herrmann, Hunter). Their
sixth man was their starting power forward/center all
season (Antonio McDyess). Their main backcourt reserve
(Rodney Stuckey) may have been the best point guard in
last season's draft. He scored 19 points after Billups
went down in Game 3.
What do the Magic have? Swingman Keith Bogans is a
3-point gunner who has traditionally killed the
Pistons but he's been shooting blanks in this series.
Stan Van Gundy has switched back and forth at the
backup point between Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling,
hoping one emerges (Dooling's hot fourth quarter in
Game 3 probably buried Arroyo for good).
They really don't have a decent frontcourt reserve at
the moment. Their best backup there, Brian Cook, is
out with a hand injury. That has forced Van Gundy to
switch between Adonal "Tin" Foyle and Euro mystery man
Marcin Gortat.
Even if Billups misses a game or two, the Pistons will
win this series. They have too much backup power to
blow it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


During the Rick Carlisle era, and seeping into the
Larry Brown era, the Pistons took pride in winning
ugly. Most of the time, they didn't even score 90
points. Remember that streak where they held five
straight opponents under 70 points?
The Pistons still play some of the league's best
defense but they're much more easier to watch. They
can play uptempo, they'll throw lob passes and they've
got some big-time dunkers.
The new kings of ugly? That would be King LeBron and
His Court. Though no one on the Cavs' roster - other
than a fading Ben Wallace - has a reputation of being
a great defender, they consistently shove opponents
into the mud.
The Pistons still haven't figured out how to prevent
Cleveland from making their offense sluggish and
ineffectual in the postseason. If Game 1 of the
Boston-Cleveland series is any indication, the Celtics
are wading into the same quagmire.
Though Sam Cassell made a few big shots in the late
going, Cleveland was poised to steal homecourt
advantage Tuesday. Every possession was a grind and
the Cavs made just enough 3-pointers and midrange
shots to hang around.
What they couldn't overcome was James' worst
performance I've ever seen - two baskets, 10
turnovers. I can't believe Paul Pierce and James Posey
are going to stop him that much, though Kevin Garnett
was able to help off Ben Wallace when James ventured
toward the lane. If history is any indication, the
Celtics are in for a long, painful-to-watch series.
They might slog their way past the Cavs, but either
way, it's not going to be pretty.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


As readers of my column know by now, I'm not a Larry
Brown fan. He's the only coach I've ever seen who was
miserable coaching a high-quality, low-maintenance
team. He squeezed every nickel and dime he could out
of his ugly exits from the Pistons and Knicks.
But I can't fault the Charlotte Bobcats for hiring
Brown as their coach. Actually, it's a prudent move.
The Bobcats haven't captured the fancy of the
Charlotte fans since the NBA gave them another team.
Their attendance has been pitiful, even after they
built a brand new arena in the middle of the downtown
They've never been more than a blip on the radar
screen nationally because they haven't made the
Brown's hiring draws attention to the franchise and
makes the average fan think, or perhaps delude, that
they're serious about winning. In terms of media
coverage and ticket sales, it's a win-win proposition
to bring in a Hall of Fame coach.
Avery Johnson's firing in Dallas wasn't all that
surprising after two straight first-round exits. You
know Mark Cuban wants a big name and Rick Carlisle
could be it. Problem is, the Jason Kidd experiment
failed and the aging Mavs need some fresh legs,
especially at the point. That's why dealing Devin
Harris was a dumb move in the first place.