Blogs > Pistons' Point

An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


The NBA, its network partners and ad agencies wanted LeBron. Instead, they got Tiger - sitting in the front row.
The FInals features the two best teams in the league and its two most famous spectators - Magic supporter Woods and Lakers' courtside fan, Jack Nicholson.
Orlando was far superior to the Cavs in the conference finals and earned its way into the championship round. Dwight Howard has taken all those lessons he learned from Rasheed Wallace to heart - he, not LeBron, is the league's most dominant player when he's at the top of his game.
I think the Finals will be fascinating and very close. The Lakers have better and more athletic defenders than the Cavs to match up with the Magic. But Orlando is peaking ar the right time and Howard is feeling invincible. I see it going the distance with the Lakers' playoff experience being the deciding factor.
Broader question - will advertisers pull all those LeBron commercials or risk looking foolish during Finals timeouts?

Saturday, May 23, 2009


LeBron James' last-second miracle shot reminded me of Christian Laettner's buzzer-beating vs. Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament. Why? Because the coach and/or players on the opposing team forgot one important fact - the best way to prevent those shots is to distract the inbounder. Grant Hill had a clear look when he heaved the ball to Laettner.
Mo Williams didn't have quite that luxury but Rashard Lewis backed off an at angle while guarding the inbound. Was he afraid of a lob pass? Whatever the reason, if I were Stan Van Gundy, I would have told Lewis to get as close to Williams as possible and wave those long arms of his. No way would LeBron have had such a clean catch and shot. As it was, the Cavs only had to run a simple inbounds play with LeBron coming off a screen.
There's been some criticism of Hedo Turkoglu for backing off but I think he did all he could. If he had so much as breathed on LeBron in that situation, the officials would have tooted their whistles.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Wrote a column the other day about Chauncey Billups. I almost wrote about Orlando and how it's been underrated all season by most people, including myself.
I don't think the Magic can win the series but it would be wrong to simply dismiss their Game 1 win over Cleveland as a fluke. Orlando nearly won 60 games this season despite losing its point guard in midstream.
Everyone talks about Dwight Howard but what really makes the Magic difficult to play are their forwards. I'm not a big fan of the whole point forward concept but Hedo Turkoglu does that better than anyone in the league. Rashard Lewis is a dangerous offensive player - and should be, considering the size of his paycheck. He made a cold-blooded 3-pointer to win the game after LeBron got a cheap call which led to a 3-point play.
Their trio of shooting guards isn't bad. J.R. Redick played surprisingly well defensively against Ray Allen and Courtney Lee is a promising young player. But the guy who's really emerged is Mickael Pietrus, who has always shown flashes of ability and great athleticism. He never really put it together in Golden State and got hurt in his first year with Orlando but has really emerged in the postseason.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Does anyone remember the other two point guards on the free agent market when the Pistons signed Chauncey Billups?
If you guessed Travis Best and Jeff McInnis, consider yourself a Pistons historian. It wasn't a no-brainer at the time that Chauncey was better than that duo. Rick Carlisle and Joe Dumars knew what they were doing when they courted Chauncey the first weekend of free agency in 2002.
For more on Billups and my take on whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame, see Wednesday's edition of The Oakland Press.

Friday, May 15, 2009


How significant is Chauncey Billups' accomplishment of playing in his seventh straight conference finals?
Only four other players since 1970 have advanced to seven or more consecutive conference finals, and they all played for the great Lakers teams in the 1980s - Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kurt Rambis.
Really, that puts Chauncey on par with Magic - not in talent, obviously, but in the fact he was the floor leader of those teams. Before this year, I don't know if you could have called Chauncey a Hall of Famer. Now, like the Osgood debate in hockey, it's hard to deny him, based on his postseason resume.
I remember asking a question about Chauncey to Rick Carlisle during a Pistons-Pacers series a few years back after he lit up Indiana. Carlisle's response was fairly simple, something along the lines, 'Hey, he's a great player.'
At the time, you still didn't think of Billups in that fashion. You do now. Can you think of a better (i.e. more effective) point man in the league than Chauncey? Or put it this way, if you had a playoff team, which active point guard would you choose to run your club?
He's the best in the business.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Coming into the playoffs, I felt Denver was very vulnerable to getting knocked off in the first round.
Instead, the Nuggets have been the second-best team in the playoffs, behind only the steamrolling Cleveland Cavaliers.
After seeing how the Cavs forced Chauncey Billups to give up the ball in past playoff series, I figured the Western Conference teams would embrace the same strategy. But Billups has controlled the action while his team overpowered the Hornets and Mavericks offensively in the first two rounds.
By the way, got to figure the Mavs' franchise is in deep trouble. Dirk Nowitzki turns 31 this summer and his supporting cast is average at best. Over-the-hill Jason Kidd and his $21 million contract comes off the books, but the Mavs still don't have the financial flexibility to make significant changes to their roster.
The Lakers will finish off the banged-up Rockets, setting up a very intriguing conference finals between the rampaging Nuggets and inconsistent but supremely talented Lakers. At this stage, you've got to give a slight edge to Denver, which has shown a blend of toughness and cohesiveness.
By the way, was there anything more predictable than Orlando's Game 5 collapse in Boston? Time and again, the Magic have shown no mental toughness when tested. Criticize Van Gundy all you want about Dwight Howard's lack of touches but Orlando has to finish off the Celtics in that situation, no matter who's taking the shots.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


It's sad to know Chuck Daly had to suffer before death - pancreatic cancer is one of the most evil forms of the disease - but the man, as usual, handled it with dignity and class. He didn't want great public outpourings of sympathy during the last couple of months of his life. He was visited by family, close friends and colleagues but wanted everything kept private.
That makes it easier to remember how he lived and what he accomplished in his career. He went from a virtual unknown when he was hired by the Pistons in 1983 to a Hall of Famer just 11 years later. And the "CD" lapel pins the coaches have been wearing in the playoffs shows how much he meant to his peers. Everyone around here knows what he meant to his players, the Pistons organization, this city, this state and basketball fans.
He didn't even want flowers after his death, which occurred Saturday morning.
The organization issued a statement, through his family, that those who wish to further honor his memory may do so by making a contribution to the following:

Jupiter Medical Center Foundation
1210 South Old Dixie Highway
Jupiter, FL 33458
(561) 746-7974 

Rest in peace, Coach.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


The best playoff series right now is going on when most people are already asleep.
I'm not talking Wings-Ducks here. The Rockets-Lakers second-rounder has quickly developed into must-see-TV.
Not only are the Rockets offering a strong challenge to the Lakers, the series has become very heated and chippy. The Lakers pulled away in the fourth quarter of Game 2 Wednesday to even the series and there was all kinds of extra-curricular drama.
Rockets forward Luis Scola has not made any friends in L.A. with his physical play. Lamar Odom has been chirping at him and Luke Walton got a technical after giving Scola a piece of his mind. Derek Fisher then got tossed from the game late in the third quarter for leveling Scola with an elbow.
To no one's surprise, Ron Artest is also making headlines for his antics. After getting called for an offensive foul against Kobe Bryant, Artest ran to an official early in the fourth quarter and vehemently pleaded with him that Bryant nailed him with an elbow to the throat. Artest then raced over to Bryant and screamed in his face, resulting in another ejection.
Bryant smugly dismissed the incident afterward as "playoff basketball." Another Artest-Kobe confrontation seems inevitable.
If that wasn't enough, Houston coach Rick Adelman banished one of his players in the middle of all this craziness for insubordination. He told reserve Von Wafer, one of the great names in the game, to go back to the locker room after Wafer argued with him on the bench.
Can't wait to see what happens when the series shifts to Houston this weekend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Readers of this blog might have wondered where I've been the past couple of weeks. Other than trying to figure out how Mine The Bird won the Derby, I've been on the mend. I broke my right foot the morning that the Pistons were eliminated from the playoffs.
There was nothing that surprised me about Joe Dumars' press conference last week. I knew he was frustrated with the effort and attitude of some of his veterans this season. No doubt, he'd like to make some significant moves this summer and he's got the cap room to do it.
As I've stated recently, I don't see any way Rasheed Wallace comes back, even for a reduced price. His skills have diminished to the point where even having him around as a backup doesn't seem like a good idea.
I also strongly believe he'll try to move Tayshaun Prince. Seems to me Prince has gotten too complacent and needs a change of scenery.
The big thing is just what impact players he can bring in. I have to believe either Bosh or Stoudemire would have to be the centerpiece. Carlos Boozer puts up numbers, but he's not the type of guy who can carry a team. And given his injury history, I'd rather roll the dice that Bosh tells Toronto he's not coming back or that Stoudemire could thrive just as much in a more structured offense as he did in Phoenix's attack.