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Archive → April, 2009

Live Blog: Detroit at Cleveland, Game One

Game Preview: Detroit at Cleveland, Game One

Essentials

Date: April 18, 2009

Time: 3:00 p.m.

Television: ABC

Records

Detroit: 39-43

Cleveland: 66-16

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Antonio
McDyess
Rasheed
Wallace

Cleveland:

PG SG SF PF C

Mo
Wiliams
Delonte
West
LeBron
James
Anderson
Varejao
Zydrunas
Ilgauskas

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +12.5

Over/under: 176

Score: Cleveland wins 94-82

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 107.4 (21st)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.0 (16th)

Detroit pace: 86.7 (29th)

Cleveland offensive rating: 112.4 (4th)

Cleveland defensive rating: 102.4 (3rd)

Cleveland pace: 88.7 (25th)

Score: Cleveland wins  97-92

Outlook

 

“Right now I’d say we’re a pretty good basketball team. Hopefully we can keep winning and keep playing. You play another month and a half, two months of basketball, where guys are working together and playing together – if we can keep doing that and keep winning in the process, by the end of the season we can be a damn good basketball team.” 

That was Isiah Thomas in a 1992 Newsday article. 

That year, the Pistons face the fourth-seeded Knicks in the first round. It was the first time Detroit was the lower seed in the opening round in six years.

But Detroit battled New York hard and took the series to a full five games before bowing out.

Detroit’s most common started lineup that year included Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman. So, the championship core was still there. Aged, but there.

Here’s Richard Hamilton in an article from Booth Newspapers this year.

“We’re already near the bottom in the playoffs,” he said. “At this point in time, regardless of who we play, we just have to know that we made it to the playoffs and hopefully we can make a run.”

Not quite the same fighting spirit.

Detroit’s run seemed over two years ago when the Pistons flamed out against Cleveland two years ago. Or it could have been last year with a conference-finals loss to Boston.

But it’s definitely done this year.

When the Pistons bow out of the playoffs, probably to Cleveland next Sunday or Wednesday, this era of Detroit Basketball has ended.

But it’d be nice to see the Pistons wreak as much havoc as possible on their way out.

We all know it looks bleak.

The No. 1 seed has a 101-17 (.856) record all-time at home against the No. 8 eight seed. And this game will be even more challenging than most of those matchups.

Cleveland (66 wins) is the NBA’s best team. Detroit (39 wins) is the worst team record-wise still playing.

And the Cavaliers, who went 39-2 at home this season, probably would have tied the record for home wins if they didn’t rest LeBron in the last game of the season.

But Pistons fans have to hope Detroit can muster up something, anything, to at least challenge Cleveland. The Pistons are battle-tested and play better after off days, which they will have in the playoffs — and that’s all I really have.

It’s grasping at dreams at this point. The Pistons seem ready just to be done.

The only question is how ugly the end is.

  • Pistons coach Michael Curry has a plan for the Pistons, who shot 41 percent against Cleveland this year. Via the Detroit News:

“If we can take advantage of our opportunities and shooting better than 35-40 percent, if we get up to 45-46 percent, we can be pretty good.”

Brilliant. I also think the Pistons should try to do that.

Chat: First-round preview

At 4 p.m., John Krolik from Cavs the Blog and I will discuss the Pistons-Cavaliers first-round matchup. So, come on over and join our chat with questions and comments or just to follow along.

Led by Rick Carlisle, NBA coaches dedicate postseason to Chuck Daly

A press release via Dana Gauruder of the Oakland Press:

The National Basketball Coaches’ Association (NBCA)  announced  today  that it will dedicate the 2009 NBA Playoffs to former NBA  Head Coach Chuck Daly.

Dallas  Mavericks  Head  Coach  and  President  of  the NBCA Rick Carlisle and NBCA Executive Director Michael Goldberg announced that NBA coaches  throughout  the  Playoffs will wear a lapel pin emblazoned with the  initials “CD” as a show of support for Daly, who was diagnosed with pancreatic  cancer  in  February  and is currently undergoing treatment. 

The Hall of Famer coached the Cavaliers, Pistons, Nets and Magic and led the 1992 Men’s Olympic Dream Team to a Gold Medal.

In addition to honoring Daly throughout the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the NBCA  also  announced  that  it  is  developing the “Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award” to honor a current or former NBA Coach (Head Coach or Assistant).

“I   am  pleased  to announce that the NBCA is dedicating the 2009 NBA  Playoffs to Chuck Daly and we all send our thoughts and best wishes to  him  and  his  family,”  said  Carlisle.   “Chuck has played such an important  role as a friend and mentor to so many NBA coaches, it’s only fitting  that  we develop the ‘Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award’ in his honor.”

The “Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award” will be awarded yearly to a current or former NBA coach who, throughout an NBA career, has made a  special  contribution  to the sport and whose work has had a positive impact  on the NBA coaching profession.  The award will be voted upon by the  members of the NBA Coaches Association and will be announced at the conclusion of the NBA regular season.

The inaugural award will be presented later this year.

Game Review: Pistons’ bench isn’t good enough

There’s no question the Pistons’ starters aren’t as good as they were in the past six years.

But Detroit’s bench should take some of the blame. The unit is no longer good enough to consistently push the starters with a threat of losing minutes.

Last night’s 102-96 loos to the Heat shows the Pistons bench isn’t good enough. 

Detroit played hard, as bench players often do, but they just looked bad.

Detroit shot 40 percent in regulation. In games the Pistons didn’t shoot better than 40 percent this year (ones they didn’t have the benefit of going against an opponent’s bench), Detroit was 1-11.

The Pistons no longer have the solid bench players they did during their run of six straight Eastern Conference finals — guys like Rodney Stuckey, Antonio McDyess, Flip Murray Corliss Williamson, Mehmet Okur, Mike James, Chucky Atkins and Jon Barry.

Stuckey and McDyess moved into the starting lineup. No quality bench players replaced them, unless you count Allen Iverson. But calling him a bench player or quality are both stretches.

In a way Detroit is a victim of its own success. The Pistons finished every year with a good record and didn’t have a high enough draft pick to land a good bench player. And their starters were so good, there wasn’t money left in free agency to sign high-end reserves.

This has played a part in Detroit deterioration, but more than just in a loss of bench production. The starters are too comfortable in their roles. There’s no sense of urgency, no fear of losing their job.

The Pistons’ starters are coasting like they have the last couple of years. But with the talent level down (considering the Billups trade, Ben Wallace leaving as a free agent, Rasheed Wallace’s aging and Tayshaun Prince losing his ability to lockdown an opponent), Detroit’s record has plummeted.

We should have seen this coming.

How did this happen?

The Pistons drafted Jason Maxiell with the 26th pick in the 2005 draft. A player picked there is mostly likely to be a role player, according to 82games.com.  But that pick seems to be an outlier. The 25th and 27th picks are most likely to be deep bench players.

And Arron Afflalo (27th in 2007) and and Amir Johnson (56th in 2005) were drafted even lower.

Kwame Brown was the first pick in 2001, but 82 games lists him as the third-worst value pick since 1989 — ahead of Darko Milicic.

Will Bynum spent the last three years out of the NBA.

And Walter Herrmann had played the fourth-fewest minutes for an 8-12 Bobcat team when Detroit traded for him.

It’s no wonder the production isn’t there.

And as Chris McCosky of the Detroit News pointed out, Maxiell and Johnson, the two who seem most likely to reach the next level, haven’t really developed. As he says, it’s not over for them. But every that goes by that they aren’t playing better is discouraging.

What Detroit has off the bench

We didn’t learn much about these players last night that we didn’t already know.

Bynum can get to the rim and his all-around game has developed (16 points, six rebounds, one turnover).

Brown is a good rebounder and defender (17 points, 13 rebounds, three steals).

Maxiell thrives on putbacks , but struggles with free throws (16 points, seven offensive rebounds and 4-of-7 from the line, including missing  a pair with 15 seconds left in regulation).

Afflalo plays pretty tight defense (Miami’s guards combined to shoot 5-of-17 and had four turnovers).

Johnson uses his length to play good defense, but he gets lost in the Pistons’ halfcourt offense (three blocks, four points).

Walter Herrmann can score when he takes a lot of shots (10 points on 13 attempts).

So, the Pistons will open the playoffs in Cleveland on Saturday. Even if they bench is more productive than it has been all year, it’s too late. The starters are already too complacent.

One last gripe

This game was way too dull (sorry for the pun). In a game that didn’t make any difference in the standings, why couldn’t we see Detroit’s only rookie, Walter Sharpe.

Just because I wanted to see him play, here are highlights from his UAB days:

Pistons’ first-round schedule

Via a release from the team:

Game Date Teams Time TV/local TV
Game 1 Sat., April 18 Detroit at Cleveland 3:00 p.m. ABC/None
Game 2 Tue., April 21 Detroit at Cleveland 8:00 p.m. TNT/TBD
Game 3 Fri., April 24 Cleveland at Detroit 7:00 p.m. ESPN/TBD
Game 4 Sun., April 26 Cleveland at Detroit 3:30 p.m. ABC/None
Game 5* Wed., April 29 Detroit at Cleveland TBD TBD
Game 6* Fri., May 1 Cleveland at Detroit TBD TBD
Game 7* Sun., May 3 Detroit at Cleveland TBD TBD

Game Preview: Detroit at Miami

Essentials

Date: April 15, 2009

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 39-42

Miami: 42-39

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Arron
Afflalo
Tayshaun
Prince
Amir
Johnson
Kwame
Brown

Miami:

PG SG SF PF C



Mario
Chalmers
Daequan
Cook
Yakhouba 
Diawara
Michael
Beasley
Jamaal
Magloire

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Even

Over/under: 181

Score: Tie 91-91

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 107.4 (21st)

Detroit defensive rating: 107.9 (15th)

Detroit pace: 86.8 (29th)

Miami offensive rating: 107.8 (19th)

Miami defensive rating: 107.6 (11th)

Miami pace: 90.0 (21st)

Score: Tie 95-95

Outlook

Remember back in 2005 when the Pistons were locked into the second seed we finally had a chance to see Darko play extended minutes? That was a much more interesting time than now.

He averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and two blocks while starting the final two games of the season.

Tonight, I’m not quite as intrigued to see Walter Sharpe.

NBA and Pistons Awards

MVP

NBA

1. LeBron James

There are three players in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency — James (sixth offensively and third defensively), Chris Paul (second and 19th) and another Cavalier, Anderson Varejao (20th and fourth). That should say something about LeBron’s ability to make himself and his teammates better.

2. Dwight Howard

His defense is incredible. He affects the game on both sides of the court more than anyone below him on this list.

3. Chris Paul

He makes the Hornets go. And in a season where many of his teammates underperformed, he has led New Orleans to 49 wins. 

4. Kobe Bryant

He had an excellent year, but he’s not top 20 in offensive or defensive efficiency.

And he probably has a better supporting cast than anyone on this list. Pau Gasol has more win shares than him.

5. Dwyane Wade

I have Wade lower than most people do because I think he’s benefiting from having an off year last year.

Yes, the Heat sputtered to a 15-67 record last season with Wade hurt for much of the year. But Miami was just 10-41 in games he played.

He’s having the best year of his career, but his numbers aren’t that much better than they were two years ago. His renaissance has been overrated.

Pistons

1. Richard Hamilton

Without Chauncey Billups, this became Hamilton’s team. After a power struggle with Allen Iverson, Rip came out on top.

And the Pistons are better for it. Since returning to the starting lineup, Hamilton has averaged 21.5 points, 6.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Detroit is 28-23 when Hamilton starts. Of Pistons who have started at least three games this season, only Amir Johnson has a better record (15-9).

2. Antonio McDyess

He never got Detroit going completely in the right direction, but could you imagine where the Pistons would be without his rebounding?

More importantly, his toughness and work ethic set a tone.

3. Tayshaun Prince

His defense has fallen off, but his offensive has gotten more consistent. He had just 18 single-digit point games this year, compared to 25 a season ago.

And he’s averaging a career-high 5.6 rebounds per game for a team that desperately needs it.

Rookie of the Year

NBA

1. Derrick Rose

He has led a resurgence of the Bulls. He has all the tools to keep getting better.

2. Kevin Love

His rebounding percentage is second to only Dwight Howard. And he has a higher offensive rating than Rose.

3. Brook Lopez

He has had a good rookie season. But I don’t see the sure-fire future greatness everyone else seems to.

Pistons

1. Walter Sharpe

Well, um …

Coach of the Year

NBA

1. Stan Van Gundy

The Magic have some solid players around Dwight Howard, but Van Gundy maximizes everyone’s ability.

2. Mike Brown

Coaching LeBron must be easy. Brown has Cleveland’s role players in position to help themselves and LeBron excel, too. That isn’t as easy.

3. Rick Adelman

With Tracy McGrady’s issues, the Rockets could have wilted. Adelman has them third in the West.

Pistons

1. Michael Curry

Luckily for Curry, Ron Rothstein doesn’t do Pistons telecasts anymore because he might have won this award if there was any type of other option.

Defensive Player of the Year

NBA

1. Dwight Howard

He’s just a beast. He protects the lane better than anyone since Ben Wallace was in his prime.

2. LeBron James

When he sets his mind to it, there’s nothing on a basketball court he can’t do. He hit a one-handed underhand from behind halfcourt on 60 Minutes for Pete’s sake.

3. Shane Battier

He makes life miserable for opposing wing players.

Pistons

1. Rasheed Wallace

He was embarassingly slow with help-side defense early in the year, but he came around.

2. Antonio McDyess

He still works his butt off on the court, and that’s good enough to be the second-best defender on this team.

3. Kwame Brown

If he wasn’t picked No. 1 in the draft, people would appreciate him a lot more. He’s a good role player.

Most Improved Player

NBA

1. Devin Harris

He was pretty good, now he’s an All-Star — and better than Jason Kidd.

2. Paul Millsap

Where were the Jazz hiding him?

3. Danny Granger

He gets the nod because Kevin Durant was better last year.

Pistons

1. Will Bynum

He went from an international journeyman who was trying to work his way up to becoming an NBA journeyman to Detroit’s go-to player in the fourth quarter.

2. Rodney Stuckey

He was handed the starting spot and major minutes. He had to make a major move up, and he did. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as big as it seemed it could be earlier in the year.

3. Antonio McDyess

What player improves from 33 to 34, especially a big man whose career almost ended because of knee trouble? McDyess stepped up because the Pistons needed him to, and that says a lot about who he is.

Sixth Man of the Year

NBA

1. Jason Terry

No bench player is even close to his production

2. Lamar Odom

His numbers are down, but he’s a much better defensive player.

3. Nate Robinson

You can’t ignore his offensive firepower.

Pistons

1. Antonio McDyess

He qualifies because he came off the bench for more games (32) than he started (30). And he’s obviously the best of the Pistons’ bench players.

2. Jason Maxiell

He wasn’t as good as last year, but he thrives off the bench. He’s a nice change of pace.

3. Will Bynum

This seems a bit low, but he didn’t come on until late in the year.

Curry will rest most starters against Miami

Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess won’t play against the Heat tomorrow, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers. Tayshaun Prince will also just play in the first quarter.

This makes the most sense with McDyess, but I’m hesitant about the long layoff for everyone. The playoffs don’t start until Saturday or Sunday. Everyone would have two or three days off.

I’d probably play all the starters limited minutes to keep them fresh.

Isiah Thomas hired as FIU coach

Florida International has hired Isiah Thomas to be its head basketball coach.

The Golden Panthers have lost 20 games in three of the past four years, and haven’t had a winning record since going 16-14 in the 1999-2000 season. FIU finished fifth in the six-team Sun Belt East Division last season, and averaged only 693 fans for its home games — one of the lowest totals in Division I.

“I think we can get good players from across Florida and around the country to buy into our plan to make this a top-tier basketball program,” Thomas said in a statement released by the school. “I’m committed to growing something here, and strongly believe that over time, we’ll put a team on the floor that everyone at FIU can be proud of.”