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Chevette to Corvette No. 6: The 2005-06 Detroit Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 64-18
  • Pythagorean record: 60-22
  • Offensive rating: 110.8 (4th of 30)
  • Defensive rating: 103.1 (5th of 30)
  • Arena: The Palace of Auburn Hills
  • Head coach: Flip Saunders

Playoffs

  • Beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, 4-1
  • Beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, 4-31
  • Lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, 4-2

Leaders

Top player

Chauncey Billups

The Pistons were the NBA’s best team in the regular season and Chauncey Billups turned himself into an MVP candidate, finishing fifth in the voting.

Billups’ mastery of Flip Saunders’ offense was amazing to watch. His 8.6 assists per game is still a career-best, as is the 43 percent 3-point shooting he finished the season with. He averaged 18.5 points per game, his best mark as a Piston and the second best scoring average of his career.

Key transaction

Traded Carlos Arroyo and Darko Milicic to Orlando for Kelvin Cato and a first round pick

As Dan pointed out in the last Chevette to Corvette, the Pistons used the draft pick on Rodney Stuckey. They also used the money Cato’s expiring contract created after the season to afford Tayshaun Prince‘s raise the next season after his contract was extended.

But the trade was more important for symbolic reasons. The team was cutting ties with Milicic, one of the all-time worst draft busts in NBA history. It became clear early in the season in spot minutes that Milicic would never earn the trust of the coaching staff despite them paying lip service to playing him more before the season started. Milicic quickly found himself at the end of the bench again and the team finally decided it was time to move on.

Trend watch

Winning streaks

The Pistons had winning streaks of 11, 9 and 8 games in the first three months of the season. They started the season 37-5 and even started some buzz that the team could threaten the 70-win mark.

Why this season ranks No. 6

This had the potential to be the Pistons’ greatest season of all time. They cruised through the regular season, maintaining their identity as a top five defensive team. Impressively though, Flip Saunders had a huge impact on the offense. The Pistons went from a walk-it-up, sometimes stagnant offensive unit under Larry Brown to a team that was top five in the league in offensive rating under Saunders. The Pistons had four All-Stars and Saunders coached the East in the game, putting all four players — Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Billups and Rip Hamilton — into the game at the same time, definitely one of the cooler moments in recent Pistons history.

In the playoffs, though, things fell apart. The Pistons struggled in a second round series against a weaker Cleveland team. In a bit of foreshadowing to a future disappointment, the Cavs extended the Pistons to seven games. Then in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons had a flat performance against Miami, losing in six games.

Previously

4 Comments

  • Dec 19, 20112:20 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    The Flip Saunders years were really disappointing. He did a fantastic job creating a system to maximize the value of the players that were on the floor. And the Pistons core, while they didn’t really like it, followed along and had great success. And then when the playoffs rolled around, they completely shut him out and returned to “this is what won us a championship” style basketball that just didn’t pack nearly enough offense to keep up with a league of increasing talent (especially from the 2003 draft).

  • Dec 19, 20113:37 pm
    by Jacob

    Reply

    This regular season was so good it made the series against Miami unbelievable bitterly disappointing. I remember just before that a promising relationship I had with a girl went to pot, then when the Pistons lost that series I thought the world was against me. I was so upset that I broke the remote to my TV and burned a bunch of poetry I had written. Then the way the Mavs (my 2nd favorite team) lost to those Heat in the Finals…..my life felt like it was just plunging into a downward spiral. Alas….wow that makes me sound like I’m insane.

  • Dec 19, 20115:40 pm
    by Afghan Whig

    Reply

    Hey, the link to #8 is broken.  What do you think about the 1986-87 team?

  • Dec 19, 20115:41 pm
    by Afghan Whig

    Reply

    Hey, the link to #8 is broken.  What do you think about the 1986-87 team?   ?

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