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Game 49 Preview: Blazers vs. Pistons

A Look at the Pistons

Over the years I've done quite a few previews of the Pistons and I find myself always saying the same thing because they just don't change.  They're cold-blooded.  Like a shark they just don't care.  They're the consummate veteran team with talent, balance, and the will and purpose to win.  At 35-13 they're doing it again.  90 points allowed...2nd in the league.  43.9% shooting allowed...3rd in the league.  +7.6 point differential...2nd in the league.  18.8 assists allowed...3rd in the league.  11 turnovers per game...1st in the league.  2.05 assist-to-turnover ratio...2nd in the league.  They shoot well from everywhere.  4 of their starting 5 could score 20 on any given night but none of them have to.  Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince are two of the most well-rounded forwards in the league.  Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton are two of the most respected guards in the league.  Detroit isn't invincible, but it's going to be a job exposing their weaknesses.

What are their weaknesses?  They are cool as cucumbers most nights but when they do get emotional they can fall apart.  We all remember this from Rasheed Wallace's days in Portland and it hasn't changed for him or his team.  Also their bench isn't what it used to be in the days Ben Wallace manned the middle for them.  Don't get me wrong...all of their guys are good and know their roles.  But they don't pack the same firepower individually.

Nevertheless I would not expect anything close to a win tonight...or rather I would categorize a win as something of a miracle...doubly so if Brandon Roy hasn't returned.  Any one of their big four could easily make mincemeat out of their Blazer counterpart when on offense.  All four of them together are scary.  And offense isn't even the Pistons' strongest suit.  Last game we were hoping for a convincing win.  Tonight we'll be hoping to just play a convincing game.

 What I'd Like to See

  1.  The only thing you can ask with surety is effort and we do need to see that.  It doesn't matter who's there and who's not.  It doesn't matter who's putting on the opposing uniform.  Everyone in black and red needs to go all out for 48 minutes and let the chips fall where they may.  You never know...the door may be open a crack for a win.  But you'll never see the threshold even if you don't come out with passion and drive.
  2.  If Brandon is out then this is the night for Martell and Jarrett to score in droves.
  3.  Detroit allows a miniscule 1.39 assist-to-turnover ratio to its opponents.  Combined with their 43.9% shooting percentage allowed that makes for a potentially long night on offense.  We have to overcome all three things to have a chance.  Do not turn the ball over.  Be patient and find the open man for shots, then hit them.  Fail in even one part of that and you probably lose the game.  This team is one of the very few that defends extremely well inside and on the perimeter both so you're not going to get good looks going one-on-one or with just one pass.
  4.  I don't even know how to address the potential defensive nightmare other than saying don't let Prince run out on you, don't let the guards free for open shots, and try to make Rasheed as much of a scorer as possible.  He never did like that role and still doesn't.  He's led the team outright in scoring only 6 times all season and they are 4-2 in those games (which believe it or not is lower than their overall percentage).
I may or may not be able to monitor the various official websites today.  If anyone hears news about Brandon's return or absence please post it in the comments of this post or in a diary.

--Dave (