Thursday, June 01, 2006

I'm not convinced that the Pistons are back...yet

The Pistons won another elimination game. It's amazing how they can ramp up their play with their backs against the wall. But why did it take so long to put together a decent performance? Notice I'm not saying it was a great performance? It was a clutch clutch clutch win, but it was far from a great game from the Pistons. It felt like they were in control, but they could never pull away. If the Heat aren't Wallace-esque from the line, the game is much tighter. The win may have stemmed the tide of the Heat's momentum, but the Pistons are still treading water unless they can win tomorrow night.

There are still questions to be asked...

Other than Tayshaun Prince, who is shooting well?

Prince saved their collective asses last night. He made shots. As for the rest of the Pistons? The 3 guards combined were 11-39. As a team, they only shot 42%, and what is killer, only 13% from three point land. They have to shoot better. The offense, for the most part, moved as it should, as Chauncey Billups' 10 assists and only 1 turnover showed. But they are still missing good open looks (I'm looking at you, Rip Hamilton), and it's going to catch up with them if they can't drain a few.

How badly is Rasheed Wallace's ankle truly hampering his play?

'Sheed normally shows up big in important games, but he disappeared again. 'Sheed putting up 7 and 5? If you told me before the game that 'Sheed would not be close to a double-double, I would have told you that the Pistons would lose. His his inside/outside role in the offense makes the whole team go. When was the last time 'Sheed hit one of his backbreaking 3 pointers off the pick and roll? Bad ankle or not, he needs to play better for the Pistons to advance.

Is Ben Wallace back, and here to stay?

8 points, 50% from the line, and Big Ben was literally all over the court on the defensive end. His stuffing of Shaq may be, if the Pistons make it to game 7, a series changing play. Where has that Ben Wallace been? And will that Wallace show up tomorrow? The "Defensive Player of the Year" Ben Wallace hadn't been seen since sometime in the Cavs series. Even with his energy, he still only had 7 boards. Rip Hamilton should never be the leading rebounder, let alone the only one in double figures. Rebounding is always going to be an issue with this team, but Wallace has to get double figure boards. The Pistons have a chance if Ben Wallace brings the energy he had last night. Can he maintain that energy? Or has all the locker room drama made him an inconsistent presence? We'll see on Friday.

Can the Pistons get by with only 2 contibutors off the bench?

I realize the benches shorten the deeper you get in the playoffs. But the bench is a concern. Only one of the bench players, Antonio McDyess, brings scoring. I say play McDyess till he drops, especially if 'Sheed is struggling. 'Dyess seems to want this series, and a NBA title, more than anyone else on the team. You can see his heart on his sleeve, so to speak. I love Lindsey Hunter's defensive energy, but he's severely limited on offnese. Much like I do when Ben Wallace goes to the line, I cringe when Hunter goes up for a jumper. Hunter can harass Wade better than anyone else the Pistons have, but he's become almost a Ben Wallace-like liability on offense. Considering another elimination game is on the horizon, I doubt we see anyone else getting bench minutes Friday, save for a token minute or two from Evans or Davis at the end of a quarter. Otherwise, let's hope 'Dyess doesn't go into a shooting slump, and that Hunter doesn't shoot...period.

What about Flip?

As Flip Saunders and the locker room unrest has been sliced, diced, and dissected ad nauseum, there really isn't much more to be said at this point. Other than saying that winning would cure all that ails the Pistons. The players said all the right things before the game. But do they actaually believe what they are saying?

So I'm not totally convinced that the 64 win Pistons are back. They have yet to put together a full 48 minute all around game in this series. Miami does not want a game 7 in Detroit, so they are going to come out breathing fire. If the Pistons can stay in the game early, survive the obvious heat the Heat will bring, they have a chance tomorrow. But if the Pistons come out listless, thinking the game is already won, as we have seen countless times in this playoff run, their season ends tomorrow. And everyone, the media, the fans, the players, will be bitching again.

Win tomorrow, and most everything...the locker room dramatics, the personal sniping, the listless play, the bodies under the proverbial bus...will be, if not forgotten, forgiven.

Win tomorrow, and I'll believe.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, touched on a lot of this today at the forehead and I agree... I just wonder if there is anything left in the tank to do it?!?!