What the Deuce: May 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stop Hitting the Snooze

The Pistons remind me of myself circa two weeks ago. I had just finished exams and with a few days off before starting work, I took the time to catch up on sleep. When my alarm went off in the morning, I'd smash it on its head like Fred hitting Barney on the Flintstones. Apparently, the Pistons just took some exams too, because after all the talk about waking up, they keep sleeping, not hearing the alarm.

I went to Game 1 last night with high hopes and left more frustrated than a driver sitting in rush hour traffic in Miami while the guy next to him, sitting in a junker with rims on it, blasts raggaeton and misses the light when it turns green.

Billups was 6-19 from the field with a critical turnover in the 4th quarter. Rip Hamilton, Antonio McDyess, and Tayshaun Price missed easy shots regularly throughout the game. Rasheed Wallace was nowhere to be seen. Flip Saunders made adjustments after the fact, when the game was already out of hand.

After the game, McDyess said the Pistons were tired (their own damn fault for letting Cleveland stay in it for 7 games), B. Wallace said the Pistons didn't play with their normal energy. The first quote was bothersome, but Ben's comments just anger me. How can you not play "Pistons basketball" after barely surving the 2nd round? How can you not play Pistons basketball against the 2nd best team in the East that's been resting for a week?

While much of the blame lies with the players for playing a terrible game and missing shots, Flip Saunders deserves some of the blame too. His job is to get his team ready for games and they weren't ready last night. When a team gets away from what it does best, the coach's job is to redirect it to its strengths. When the opposing coach makes a strategic change, the coach's job is to counter. Flip didn't do any of those things last night.

When Dwayne Wade and Shaq went to the bench with foul trouble, the Pistons couldn't make a run. Instead of posting up Payton and Williams, Billups took terrible shots from the perimeter. Rasheed floated around on the perimeter, something he was known to do in Portland, but Larry Brown was able to control in his tenure in Detroit. It doesn't take a basketball genius to know that when a team is without its two best players, it needs to be attacked. The Pistons didn't do that last night. According to Kelly Dwyer of SI, the Pistons regularly broke off plays and took bad shots instead of "playing the right way."

Strategically, I thought Saunders could have gone to the bench a little more, especially when he knew the top 7 had logged a lot of minutes against the Cavs. Why didn't Delk, Davis, and to an extent, Delfino get more time. They haven't played a lot during the playoffs; they must have fresh legs.

In the fourth quarter, the Pistons finally started trapping but it was too late. Why not employ a trap when Miami didn't have its best ball handlers on the floor?

What really angers me about the Pistons is that offensively, they aren't playing "the right way." Too many times the guards could have penetrated and gone to the hole. They either didn't do it at all or after penetrating they kicked out for a perimeter shot which no one could make. Why not take the layup and try to draw fouls on Miami's bigs - especially when the perimeter shooting isn't there?

The Pistons need to stop screwing around and Flip needs to hammer it home that the offense needs to go through its reads, especially when the offense is struggling. Although I thought Larry Brown was too much of a distraction, this is exactly where he was a better coach - he'd rein in the players when they seemed to freelance too much or twhen they got away from the core philosophy. Saunders doesn't seem to do that at all.

Maybe the Pistons can regroup by Thursday. I think they will because the team seems to play better when it has pressure on it. Expect this series to go 6 or 7. I still think the good guys will come out on top, but it shouldn't be this easy for their opponents.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Back Online!

Its been quite some time since I have posted. Between law school exams, starting a new job, and being tired I haven't been online much. But now that I have a week off and some time to hang out, I'm back online! Lot of things have happened in the last month and half, so here goes:

Dee-troit Basketball!

Had the chance to see the Pistons live today! I hadn't been to a home game this year and luckily, my trip home happened to coincide with Game 7. I scored a ticket for under face, sat with some Cavs fans who were surprisingly civil (they were from Columbus which is worse than Cleveland). Rasheed said the atmosphere was going to be bananas, and it was, complete with a guy dressed in a banana costume. Definitely peanut butter jelly time! Anyway, my thoughts from the game and series as a whole:

1. Pistons defense is good as it was last season. The reason they struggled was because their offense is completely lost. They haven't moved the ball around as well as they did during the regular season and Chauncey isn't Chauncey.

2. I was never sold on Flip Saunders. I think he's too much of a player's coach and technically not as sound as LB. Although he was a drama queen (or is it king?), LB was technically sound. I really liked that he involved Ben Wallace in the offense. I think Ben plays better when he gets touches on offense. In games 4, 5, and parts of 6, Mike Brown, a rookie coach, outcoached Saunders, a veteran. The Pistons didn't adjust on offense when Cleveland jumped the pick and roll. Hubie Brown made a great observation during game 6 that the Pistons weren't going into the post enough, exploiting the mismatch, when Cleveland put its bigs on Billups. I just don't understand if Saunders had strategical reason for not going in the post or if he missed the adjustment competely.

3. Today was a microchosm of the series - when the Pistons focused, they were unstoppable. When they relaxed, Cleveland made runs to pull close.

4. The Pistons ran the elbow curl for Rip today. They need to do it more.

5. My experience at the Palace today was good for the most past, but it also reminded why I want a private box. I had the enjoyment of watching some guy get into a fight with a woman three times his size cause she wouldn't sit down in her seat after he repeatedly asked her politely to sit down. The reason she didn't sit down - cause her fat ass couldn't fit into the seat. This led me to create a list of the fans which I hate siting next to during an event (a list I'll post later).

Michigan Gets Luxury Boxes!

Hippies, go cry in your soy milk, cause we're getting boxes! This is the best thing that could happen to Michigan's Athletic Department. The boxes will bring in revenue to support other sports and that is critical to Michigan having success in sports. Its a known fact that football funds the non revenue sports and anything that helps bring more money in via football is a good thing.

Detroit Tigers

Brent says it better than I do.

That's it for now. More to come tomorrow