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Archive → February, 2010

Game Review: Tayshaun Prince playing better, but what does it mean?

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I admit, when I read Tayshaun Prince said he wanted to stay in Detroit, I wasn’t sure if I believed him. From Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

“I’m so accustomed to what is going on around here and how everything is so family-oriented, on and off the basketball court,” Prince said.

He then was asked about comments he made last summer about wanting to stay in Detroit. “The organization is a place you wanted to be,” he said Tuesday. “It’s a great group of guys that I was around through out my time here. All those things play a part to make you feel at home and makes you feel comfortable, and that’s how I’ve always felt.”

Prince added that he still feels the same way about the organization.

Just because Prince spoke with a different attitude, did he really feel it? Well, his production shows a change.

Prince had a season-high 23 points (11-of-15 shooting) and five rebounds in Detroit’s 103-97 loss to the Kings last night. The night before, Prince scored a then-season-high 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

I’m still not sure what that means. Is he trying to prove to Joe Dumars he can still contribute to this team? Or is he auditioning for a trade?

Either way, I’m glad this Prince has re-joined the Pistons. Each of the starters on the championship team has gone through a rough patch, and it’s sad to see. But maybe the tide is turning.

Chauncey Billups found happiness in Denver. Ben Wallace did the same in his return to Detroit. And Richard Hamilton seems proud to play with fellow Connecticut Huskies in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

I hope Prince is the next Piston to get back on track. For all he meant to this franchise, I don’t want to see him fade away. (Now about Rasheed Wallace…)

Still, until Prince keeps up the good play and body language after the trade deadline, I won’t be truly convinced this is where he wants to be.

Next-generation point guards

Rodney Stuckey had a very nice game with 17 points, nine assists, four rebounds and four steals. He had five turnovers, but he’s made considerable progress playing within the offense.

No longer completely baffled at when to create and when to take over, his production has increased. His performance doesn’t vary game-by-game as much as it did before, either.

On the other hand, Tyreke Evans impressed in a different way. In the first 42:38 of last night’s game, the Pistons held Evans to to six points. But he took over down the stretch.

He hit a short jumper. He split two defenders on a pick-and-roll and burst to the basket for a layup. Then, he stole the ball from Stuckey’s hands and raced for a dunk before the Pistons had time to even think about a comeback.

I’m really happy with Stuckey’s progress. But I’m not sure I could really see him doing that right now.

Has he lost a killer instinct? Did he have one in the first place? Can he develop one?

Trouble scoring inside late

The Kings have the NBA’s second-worst interior defense, allowing opponents to make 65.6 of their shots at the rim. But they really shut down Detroit inside in the game’s final minutes.

I’m not sure whether it was an aberration or the Pistons were doing something wrong, but I’m going keep an eye on it after the All-Star break.

For what it’s worth, Detroit makes 58.1 percent of its shots at the rim (sixth-best in the league).

Game Review: Jason Maxiell making big impact at center

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Jonas Jerebko becoming the Pistons’ starting power forward has been a major storyline. But another undersized frontline player’s increased minutes as a result of that move has been overlooked.

That should change now.

Although he played the position at times prior, Jason Maxiell has become Detroit’s primary backup center in its revamped rotation.

In last night’s 93-81 win over the Bucks, Maxiell had 14 points, 10 rebounds and two steals – first double-double of the season. He was also a team-best plus-21.

Chris Wilcox and Kwame Brown have played just a combined 21 minutes in the five games since Jerebko became the starting power forward.

Maxiell has played 74 minutes at center in the span. He’s averaging 9.6 and 7.0 rebounds in 23 minutes per game and making 65 percent of his shots.

With Ben Wallace planted on the bench, Maxiell played the entire fourth quarter at center last night. The Pistons outscored the Bucks, 29-19, in the final frame.

Still, Maxiell has played 36 percent of his minutes at power forward in the last five games, and his plus-minus has been better at that position.

  • Power forward: plus-15 in 42 minutes.
  • Center: even in 73 minutes.

But Maxiell’s center play is certainly intriguing.

In the short term, he’s easily the Pistons’ best backup center. They’re an extreme long shot for the playoffs, so that probably doesn’t matter. But let’s check it out just in case.

82Games breaks down every Pistons’ production by position through Feb. 3. Here are the plus-minuses per 48 minutes at center for each player who has spent a significant amount of time at the position:

  • Ben Wallace: –2.4
  • Jason Maxiell: –3.1
  • Kwame Brown: –6.8
  • Chris Wilcox: –19.5

The long-term possibilities of Maxiell becoming a center are less certain, but they offer a much greater reward.

Until this run, Detroit’s only reliable center had been a 35-year-old Ben Wallace. Wilcox and Brown definitely aren’t long-term answers at the position, either.

I don’t think Maxiell, who will be 27 a week from Thursday, can be a reliable starting center in the NBA. There would just be too many nights he’d be too small.

But if you had to pick a Piston most likely to be in the rotation at position in three years, wouldn’t you have to say Maxiell? You could make a case for Jonas Jerebko, but I think he projects best at small forward.

Joe Dumars has said he wants to use the rest of this season to determine what type of team the Pistons have. I hope he’s keeping a close eye on whether they can be successful with Maxiell as their backup center.

Benching the other backup centers

Jerebko taking his power forward minutes hasn’t been the only reason Maxiell has become the backup center. The other centers on the team have been benched.

This makes a lot of sense with Wilcox. He was given a chance and failed.

But what about Kwame Brown? From Terry Foster of the Detroit News:

"Our biggest concern and I have discussed it with him is defense," Kuester said. "We have to make sure he continually plays the consistent defense that I want to in the scheme. That is pick-and-roll, high pick-and-roll. Just making sure he knows."

If Brown didn’t know, he knows now. That is why he laughed when Kuester’s words were relayed to him.

"Listen, man, I don’t want something to be flared up on what I say," Brown said. "I will do what the coach says in order to get better, although that is a first because there is one thing I do bring to the table and that is defense. That’s the first time I heard that. It’s the first time a coach said I don’t play defense. But like I said, I will learn to play the defense he wants me to play."

This obviously isn’t the only reason Brown hasn’t played much. He’s definitely a better defender than Wilcox, and Wilcox has received a lot more playing time. Foster gives a clue at the reason:

Brown is frustrated and some of that might have flared up during a blowout loss to the Pacers. Kuester summoned Brown into the game but didn’t like how long it took him to get off the bench and decided against using him.

Brown said the incident has been resolved and that he was not angry with Kuester for putting him in during garbage time.

"I have played during 20-point blow-outs. I have come in during the last two minutes of a game," Brown said. "It doesn’t matter. I am paid to play whenever they tell me to. It does not matter to me."

That doesn’t explain why Brown had been stuck on the bench before Friday. Maybe that incident is just an example of an attitude problem. A Ben Wallace quote gives a little more insight. Via Foster:

"Without a doubt he can contribute," Wallace said. "But he got to want it. He’s got to be hungry, man. For me to say you got to do this and do, that’s pointless. You got to want it. Look, man, when you go out there, you got to do what you got to do. If you go out there and are making the same mistakes the starters are making, then you don’t need to be out there."

It’s obvious Brown has the physical ability to play better than he has this year – and his entire career, frankly. If I had a guess, Kuester is trying to motivate Brown to play with more intensity. But I’m not sure Kuester will be the cause if that happens.

His looming free agency might be enough for Brown to get his act together.

Win feels good

The Pistons have won back-to-back games for the first time 24 days. They also picked up their first win in 20 days against a team not on pace to have the worst single-season record of all time.

Credit for new features

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been starting each game review with a couple links at the top. It’s time to come clean.

I completely stole the idea from Royce Young of Daily Thunder. He does a great job, and I definitely recommend following his blog if you want to know about the NBA’s next elite team.

I also added a third link beginning today. Sebastian Pruiti, who runs Nets Are Scorching and NBAPlaybook.com, directed me to PopcornMachine.net. It’s a cool site that tracks how different lineups perform in each game.

More coverage

Check out Jeremy Schmidt’s recap on Bucksketball.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks

Essentials

Date: Feb. 9, 2010

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 17-32

Milwaukee: 23-26

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Jonas
Jerebko
Ben
Wallace

Milwaukee:

PG SG SF PF C

Brandon
Jennings
Charlie
Bell
Carlos
Delfino
Luc Richard
Mbah a Moute
Andrew
Bogut

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +8

Over/under: 190

Score: Milwaukee wins, 99-91

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.2 (25th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.2 (22nd)

Detroit pace: 88.3 (29th)

Milwaukee offensive rating: 104.1 (23rd)

Milwaukee defensive rating: 104 (8th)

Milwaukee pace: 93.2 (12th)

Score: Milwaukee wins, 97-94

Outlook

  • Both of these teams have just two games remaining until the All-Star break. The Bucks are trying to get back to .500, while the Pistons are doing their best to stay afloat. We’ll see which team has the greater motivation.
  • Milwaukee hasn’t lost a game at The Bradley Center in 2010, their home-win streak totaling seven. Detroit, on the other hand, has lost ten of twelve on the road, dating back to mid-December.
  • Indiana’s lost on Saturday, coincidentally to the Bucks, has put them tied for last place with the Pistons in their Division. That means a Detroit win coupled with a Pacers’ loss can finally bring Detroit out of the Central’s basement. Something extra, if ultimately meaningless, to root for.
  • Once again, Daily Dime Live should be going strong for those of you who’d like to chat during the game.

John Hollinger’s Joe Dumars bashing goes a little too far

John Hollinger (insider):

Overrated: Joe Dumars

Let’s look ourselves in the mirror, fellow media members: We’ve all given the guy a free pass because of his amazing run to six straight conference finals and blithely ignored the fact that he’s screwed up a hundred ways from Tuesday since he decided to whack Flip Saunders after the 2008 conference finals.

Check out the résumé and find me a correct decision. Just one. Fire Saunders? Wrong. Hire Michael Curry? Wrong. Trade Chauncey Billups? Wrong. Extend Richard Hamilton? Wrong. Sign Kwame Brown? Wrong. Go after Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva? Wrong again.

In two years, the Pistons have gone from one of the best teams in basketball to among the worst. They stink, they’re capped out, and they don’t have much in the way of young talent; for all we know, in two years they’re going to be the Pittsburgh Pisces or the Seattle Grunge or something. If Isiah Thomas or Rob Babcock had done this, we’d have buried them alive by now, so it’s only fair for us to point out that regardless of his previous track record, Dumars is on a two-year losing streak of McHalian proportions.

If you’ve read my previous posts, I’m a big believer in Dumars. Let’s go point-by-point with what Hollinger wrote.

Hollinger: “We’ve all given the guy a free pass because of his amazing run to six straight conference finals and blithely ignored the fact that he’s screwed up a hundred ways from Tuesday since he decided to whack Flip Saunders after the 2008 conference finals.”

Me: Sustaining success after a long run of being elite is nearly impossible in the NBA. The core players get old, and there are no young reinforcements because teams get stuck with low draft picks. So, I can’t blame Dumars too much for being in a position many other elite teams have faced:

  • The Lakers had consecutive losing seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94.
  • The Celtics never won more than 36 games between the 1993-94 and 2000-01 seasons.
  • The Pistons had three straight losing seasons after the Bad Boys broke up.
  • Once Hakeem Olajuwon hit 37 and his production fell dramatically, the Rockets missed the playoffs for four straight seasons.
  • In the six years after Michael Jordan retired, the Bulls won an average of 20 games.
  • The Heat when from winning the 2006 title to 15-67 two years later.
  • The Lakers kept have kept it going with half their core in Kobe (minus Shaq), so you can call them an exception if you’d like.
  • And let’s see how the post-Duncan Spurs look.

Hollinger: “Check out the résumé and find me a correct decision.”

Me: Firing Flip Saunders, signing Will Bynum, signing Antonio McDyess, draft Jonas Jerebko, firing Michael Curry, signing Ben Wallace.

Hollinger: “Fire Saunders? Wrong.”

Me: Flip Saunders is a good, not great coach. But he had completely lost the respect of that team. There was no way he could continue in Detroit. Firing him was a no-brainer.

Hollinger: “Hire Michael Curry? Wrong.”

Me: No question, that was a terrible hire. But how many generals managers have the guts to fire their hand-picked and young head coach a season after hiring him?

Hollinger: “Trade Chauncey Billups? Wrong”

Me: In hindsight, I wish the Pistons wouldn’t have made the trade. But it’s not as bad as it looks. Billups was in a rut in Detroit. There’s no way the Pistons could have had the same Billups that Denver does.

Hollinger: “Extend Richard Hamilton? Wrong.”

Me: As I’ve covered here many times, Dumars offered Hamilton the extension before Billups was traded. Dumars didn’t want to go back on his word after the trade. You can still say it would have been a mistake even if Detroit had kept Billups, but it wouldn’t nearly look as bad.

Hollinger: “Sign Kwame Brown? Wrong”

Me: He was signed to provide depth on the front line. How is this a bad signing? He was never expected to be a major contributor, and he was pretty good the second half of last season.

Hollinger: “Go after Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva? Wrong again.”

Me: The early returns haven’t been encouraging, but it’s way too early to label these bad signings.

Hollinger: “They stink”

Me: If the Pistons were healthy this year and  battling for one of the final playoff spots in the East, would Dumars have been included as overrated in this column? I don’t think so. Sneaking into the playoffs isn’t this team’s long-term goal, but it would’ve have been enough to keep a lot of people off Dumars’ back. Injuries didn’t allow that to happen.

Hollinger: “they’re capped out”

Me: They’re over the cap, but I don’t think they have a single player who’s untradable — even Hamilton. I think they could easily position themselves to have cap room in the summer of 2011 if that’s the direction that makes the most sense.

Hollinger: “they don’t have much in the way of young talent”

Me: I’d consider Ben Gordon (26), Charlie Villanueva (25), Rodney Stuckey (23), Jonas Jerebko (22) and Austin Daye (21) young talent.

Hollinger: “for all we know, in two years they’re going to be the Pittsburgh Pisces or the Seattle Grunge or something”

Me: I’ll let Justin Rogers of Full-Court Press take this one.

Hollinger: “If Isiah Thomas or Rob Babcock had done this, we’d have buried them alive by now”

Me: Thomas and Babcock had a nasty habit of compounding bad moves with more bad moves. It’s not like Dumars didn’t make plenty of mistakes during the Pistons’ run as an elite team. But he fixed them.

Darko Milicic, Mateen Cleaves and Rodney White were all notoriously bad draft picks. He turned all of them into valuable assets.

It’s way too early in the rebuilding process to throw Dumars under the bus. Let’s see where he’s going before we freak out. His last plan worked. I’m willing to give him time to let this one unfold.

Tuesday Trivia: Team-by-team all-time leaders

This week’s quiz is about each team’s all-time leaders.

My Score: 83/120

Warning: Spoilers in the comments.

Detroit Pistons don’t have to – and probably shouldn’t – trade

We’re 10 days from the NBA trade deadline, and the Pistons have frequently been mentioned as one of the league’s most active teams. They have plenty of assets and plenty of holes. They could benefit by adding or shedding salary. It almost seems inevitable they’ll make a trade.

But in all likelihood, they won’t. And I think there’s good reason.

I’m all for making trade that upgrades the team – whether that be short- or long-term. But the odds of that happening are low. Nearly any trade the Pistons could make would involve selling low.

Go through the Pistons’ roster. How many players do you think will be more valuable at this time next year than they are right now?

Charting expected value

Value is determined by two factors: how good a player is and how much he makes. (Age factors into both). So, here’s how I see each factor applying to the Pistons’ trade bait.

  • A plus mean a player should be more valuable next year.
  • A minus mean a player should be less valuable next year.
  • An equal sign means the player should be equally valuable next year.
Player Production Contract
Richard Hamilton

+

+

Tayshaun Prince

+

+

Ben Gordon

+

=

Charlie Villanueva

=

=

Jason Maxiell

=

+

Chris Wilcox

=

+

Will Bynum

+

-

Kwame Brown

=

-

Ben Wallace

-

-

The Pistons seem intent on building around Rodney Stuckey, so I don’t think he’s tradable. And rookies aren’t traded often, so I didn’t include them, either.

My thinking on the first seven players in the chart:

  • Hamilton, Prince, Gordon and Bynum all lost significant time to injury. They have to be better next year, right?
  • Hamilton will have one fewer season left on his contract, and Prince’s expiring deal could be quite valuable. On a smaller scale, the same is true with Maxiell and Wilcox’s expiring contract.
  • Gordon and Villanueva will each have one few year left on their contracts, but the amount they’re owed per year goes up. Any team that acquires one of them would making a long-term commitment. I’d call that a wash.
  • Bynum’s contract is up after this season, and he will be paid more next year, likely by Detroit.

The exceptions

That leaves only two players whose value will likely decrease next year – Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown.

It’s amazing what Wallace is doing at 35. He’d be even more amazing if he’s doing it at 36. His value is probably the highest it will be the rest of his career.

But he came back to play in Detroit. I don’t think he’ll be traded without his permission.

So, the only player I think the Pistons should make a concerted effort to trade is Brown. Many teams need an extra center and an expiring contract, and he would provide both.

Brown hasn’t been in the Pistons’ rotation in a couple months, so I’d guess this is his last year in Detroit. If his contract expires at the end of the season and he signs elsewhere, the Pistons will get nothing in return for him.

Maybe the right deal is out there for Hamilton or Prince – but it’s far more likely Detroit would receive the most value from trading Brown.

Sunday Trade Idea: Going after Amar’e Stoudemire

Every Friday (well, that’s the goal, which obviously didn’t happen this week), I’ll analyze a potential Pistons trade. It might be a rumor (like this one), a deal I completely made up blindly or one you suggest (e-mail me at danfeld11@gmail.com or leave a proposal in the comments).

Trade

Pistons receive:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire (21.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.7 steals)
  • Jarron Collins (0.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.0 steals)
  • Suns receive:

  • Charlie Villanueva (13.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.7 steals)
  • Kwame Brown (3.5 points, 3.5 rebounds,  0.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.3 steals)
  • Chris Wilcox (4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals)
  • First-round draft pick (lottery protected this year, top-10 next year, top-5 the next year and top-1 forever)

Salaries

Pistons receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Amar’e Stoudemire $16,378,325 $17,686,100 $0 $0 $0
Jarron Collins $1,181,803 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $17,560,128 $17,686,100 $0 $0 $0

Suns receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Charlie Villanueva $6,500,000 $7,020,000 $7,540,000 $8,060,000 $8,580,000
Kwame Brown $4,100,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Chris Wilcox $3,000,000 $3,000,000 $0 $0 $0
Total $13,600,000 $10,020,000 $7,540,000 $8,060,000 $8,580,000

Player option

Pistons’ perspective

Well, I figured it was about time I tackled the Amar’e-to-Detroit rumors. Right off the bat, let me say this: I don’t think the Pistons have what it takes to land Stoudemire. But Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns and I discussed a few ideas, and we think this is the most realistic option.

I think this deal would have to be a no-brainer for the Pistons. They’re essentially trading three bench players and a draft pick for a star – a young big man at that.

All of a sudden, they’d have a guards Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon, forwards Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko and Stoudemire at center. That’s a young lineup full of promise to build around for the next several years.

I think a Gordon and Stoudemire could be deadly on the pick-and-roll. And Stoudemire’s inside play would create jump shots for Daye and to a degree, Jerebko and Stuckey.

There are a few drawbacks, though.

If Stoudemire opts out of his contract, he could be gone after this year. The Pistons likely wouldn’t have the cap room to sign a max free agent, but they still could get an excellent player.

If Stoudemire doesn’t opt out, the Pistons could be forced to let Ben Wallace and/or Will Bynum walk or trade someone else to stay under the luxury-tax line next season.

Detroit has very little size and would be losing a lot of it. Jarron Collins would be a stop-gap to help that problem a little. The Pistons would probably look to add a free agent center for the rest of the season, too.

And of course, if the Pistons struggle after this trade, that draft pick could end up pretty valuable.

John Hollinger also analyzed the trade in a recent column (Insider):

Detroit: Nobody is quite sure whether the Pistons are coming or going these days, but one option to think about is a trade of Charlie Villanueva for Stoudemire. That would get the Suns a younger player at a more reasonable salary and pave the way for the rebuilding process, and the Pistons could line the deal with expiring contracts (Chris Wilcox and Kwame Brown) to make the salary-cap math work. Such a deal would give Phoenix $10 million of additional wiggle room around the luxury tax and, of course, a replacement for Stoudemire.

From Detroit’s perspective, it would be taking a risk by committing to Stoudemire and adding another long-term contract to a fairly large stable of them. Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Jason Maxiell all have at least two years left after this one at big numbers, and Rodney Stuckey is likely to join them because the Pistons can extend him this summer. Although there isn’t any threat that the Pistons could become a tax team, it would be a heavy salary structure for a club that’s losing big and is in the process of changing owners.

For that reason, the odds tilt heavily against such a deal taking place, but from the Phoenix perspective, it would be one of the more intriguing options.

Suns’ perspective

For each trade, I will seek the analysis of the other team’s TrueHoop Network blogger.

Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns:

“Although lately the Amare Stoudemire trade rumors that have interested me the most have been those involving Andre Iguodala and Philadelphia, if I were Suns GM Steve Kerr I would at least take a moment to contemplate it if Joe Dumars offered me Charlie Villanueva, Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox and a protected first-rounder for Stoudemire.

I believe the Suns need to get a potential All-Star young stud and a big in any Amare trade. In the right deal that could be the same person, such as a Michael Beasley or Al Jefferson.

This Detroit deal would essentially involve the Suns receiving cap relief/filler and Charlie V.

There are many things I love about Villanueva, and it’s not just because I follow him on Twitter. He’s a young big who knows how to score the basketball and would play well with Nash on the offensive end (but then again, who doesn’t?). His salary ranging from $6.5 million this year to an $8.5 million player option in 2013-14 is fairly reasonable for a guy of his skill set.

On the other hand, he doesn’t even defend or rebound as well as Amare does, and that’s not tough to do for a 6-foot-11 performer.

As for the salary reasons, the Suns would be taking back nearly $3 million less in salary, which would amount to a savings of close to $6 million when factoring in luxury tax savings. Losing Brown’s expiring deal next season, the Suns would save $7-10 mil next year depending on if Wilcox picks up his $3 mil option (likely) as compared to their cap situation if Amare stays and picks up his $17.7 mil option.

That would put the Suns in the $52-55 million range if Grant Hill and Channing Frye pick up their options (or more if they decline and are re-signed for more), which means this deal would take Phoenix out of the Summer of 2010.

If Amare were to opt out and leave, this deal would add $7 or $10 mil to Phoenix’s 2010-11 cap in comparison to what it would be without him.

So in summary, the Suns would be receiving a solid player in Charlie V and a solid draft pick as well as some short-term cap relief but a 2010 cap detriment that limits Phoenix’s future flexibility.

Upon further review, I would decline this deal if I were Suns GM Steve Kerr because Villanueva is not the kind of player who would move me to get rid of Amare, especially with the Suns having won five in a row to vault into the No. 5 spot in the West.

My response

I completely agree. Stoudemire should fetch a better player than the Pistons have to offer. They could probably get better cap relief than having to take Chris Wilcox, too.

Verdict

The Pistons would say yes. The Suns would say no.

Previous

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons vs. New Jersey Nets

Essentials

Date: Feb. 6, 2010

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 16-32

New Jersey: 4-45

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Jonas
Jerebko
Ben
Wallace

New Jersey:

PG SG SF PF C

Devin
Harris
Courtney
Lee
Jarvis
Hayes
Yi
Jianlian
Brook
Lopez

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit -7

Over/under: 187

Score: Detroit wins, 97-90

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 102.9 (26th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.2 (22nd)

Detroit pace: 88.4 (29th)

New Jersey offensive rating: 97.6 (30th)

New Jersey defensive rating: 110.2 (26th)

New Jersey pace: 92.1 (17th)

Score: Detroit wins, 96-93

Outlook

As Dan so eloquently put it last night mid-way through the 3rd quarter of the Pistons’ loss to the Pacers, “this team is full of suck.” Winning this game won’t change that.

These teams are both at the bottom of their respective divisions, and the two worst overall in the Eastern Conference. The Nets have lost five straight and the Pistons have dropped six of their last seven. Neither team is performing well, a fact that was made obvious when they met last week. It was sloppy, uninspired basketball. Tonight, Detroit needs to take advantage of its healthy roster and league-worst opponent and get a convincing win.

This game kicks off a four-game run against mostly underwhelming opponents. Many times this year I’ve been optimistic that a win in a contest like this could be a catalyst for Detroit to make a run. So far I’ve been mostly disappointed. But I haven’t given up.

If the Pistons can start making a consistent effort, there’s still time to turn this thing around. Even if making the playoffs is little more than a pipe dream, at least they can move out of the Eastern Conference basement.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Indiana Pacers

Essentials

Date: Feb. 5, 2010

Time: 7 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 16-31

Indiana: 17-32

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Jonas
Jerebko
Ben
Wallace

Indiana:

PG SG SF PF C

A.J.
Pric
Brandon
Rush
Danny
Granger
Troy
Murphy
Roy
Hibbert

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit -4

Over/under: 200

Score: Indiana wins, 102-98

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.2 (26th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.0 (22nd)

Detroit pace: 88.4 (29th)

Indiana offensive rating: 101.6 (27th)

Indiana defensive rating: 107.0 (16th)

Indiana pace: 97.8 (2nd)

Score: Tie, 98-98

Outlook

  • Check out this trade idea. It’s with the Pacers, so you can do some scouting tonight. On that note, the Friday Trade Idea has been pushed back a day or two.
  • I’m not sure what else to say about this game. It’s not exactly an intriguing matchup.
  • Thanks to Patick Hayes of Full-Court Press for pointing out the story line of the night: a Pistons win moves them from last place in the Central Division.

No wonder Tayshaun Prince is so bitter

Via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

"I don’t read the papers much at all," said Prince, who averaged 12.3 points and seven rebounds in his past three games. "When something is wrote bad about me, somebody will let me know and then I’ll read it, so basically if something is being said bad about me, I’ll find out."

"It’s hard for me if we’re winning or not winning, because if somebody writes something bad about me, I’m ready to explode on somebody. That’s why I really don’t pay much attention to it."

Maybe Tayshaun’s friends could give him some positive articles about him. Or maybe not – I just spent five minutes trying one on this site and couldn’t.

But in all seriousness, this puts John Kuester in a tough spot. Does he encourage Prince more, possibly given the forward the feeling he can walk all over the coach? Or does he let Prince continue to wallow in self-pity, which obviously make him less productive?