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Game 64 Preview: Pistons vs. Blazers

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A Look at the Pistons

The Pistons have made a remarkable stand this season.  After losing Big Ben most (including me) figured they'd slip back in the standings, but here they are at 40-22 leading the Eastern Conference yet again.  They're just as much of a team as ever.  They have five players averaging double figures and all five have led the team in scoring at one time or another...most multiple times.

The backcourt dup of Hamilton and Billups remains the heart of the offense.  "Rip and Chauncey" sound like a pair of St. Bernards (or a couple other things that I'm not going to get into) but they're multi-faceted, talented, and don't rattle for anything.  Hamilton is above 20 ppg and Billups isn't far behind and he's over 7 assists as well.  Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace anchor the defense behind them.  "Mr. T" needs no introduction in these parts...he's everything you remember--good and bad--just with a little less scoring.  Prince causes opponents fits with his athleticism and defensive instincts.  Neither is a slouch scoring either.  Chris Webber has found new life since joining his hometown club.  He's scored double figures in 15 of his last 19 games and has become a regular in their rotation.  Though much of their bench has been disappointing this year Antonio McDyess continues to show strong, especially on the boards.

The Pistons bank on a steady, controlled game.  They want to shut you down on defense and then be efficient with their offense.  This is not the same as our slowdown mode, rather they'll identify your weakness and work to expose it.  They don't care where it is, they have the player to go against you.  Their heavy minute guys shoot reasonably well (or better) from everywhere on the court, including the three point and free throw lines. They never, ever turn the ball over.  They're scary that way.  Some teams are like a volcano...dormant some nights, erupting all over you on others.  The Pistons are like a shark...mindless, cold-blooded, efficient...it doesn't care that it's going to eat you or how much you scream or struggle as it does so, it's just going to do it.

The Pistons have a couple of weaknesses.  They do tend to lose when you score 100 on them.  Rasheed still has his loose cannon tendencies and can be taken out of the game at times.  (That's not likely tonight I suppose...)  If you can get them playing a selfish game their offense isn't as good.

What I'd Like To See:

  1.  With apologies to Survivor, if we're going to win this game it's going to have to be, "Outscore, Outrun, Outhustle".  There's no way we beat them with cerebral basketball.  There's no way we beat them by slowing it down.  We have to be high octane all night.
  2.  They will not cough the ball up which means we can't either.  If we give them a 20-4 advantage in points off turnovers we're going to be hurting.  This will be tricky if we do try to up-tempo the game.
  3.  If you leave ANYBODY open they're going to score.  We have to stop their big men inside but rotations better be tight back to the shooters.
  4.  Expect Aldridge to see minutes against Rasheed, which should be an interesting matchup.  (The battle of the unblockable turn-arounds?)  I also expect Magloire to see serious minutes in this game against `Sheed, McDyess, and Webber.
  5.  If ever there were a game to have Sergio, Martell, and Travis pour in 40 points between them this is it.  I imagine our first unit could hang close with the Pistons for a while but it will probably be our second unit that determines whether we break their backs or go out with a whimper.
  6.  If you have to pick one guy to shoot for them, pick Rasheed.  He's having a miserable offensive season and he never liked being a focal point in the first place.  If Billups continues missing everything he throws up that would be good for us too, but why do you get the feeling that he'll break out of his slump tonight?
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)