Pump Up Music: Death to Flying Things -- "It Ain't Me, Babe"
(Please forgive my indulgence, posting a song I recorded...)
The Big Picture: The Detroit Pistons come to town at the end of a disastrous season. Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince were injured for long stretches, and, as virtually everyone predicted before the season, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, while nice complementary players, are hardly the guys one should want to carry the bulk of the load. Neither has been particularly efficient when they have played, and that's how to blow $100 million.
Of course, Joe Dumars was probably thinking he could replicate the 2004-era Pistons when he put this squad together, or at least he must have thought he could put them well on that road. The problem with that line of thinking, of course, is that if you've got enough cap space for a superstar, you should probably do everything in your power to, you know, land a superstar and not spend it all on two guys who would be lucky to even be considered as an All Star injury replacement.
Back in 2004, that Pistons team was 4 bona fide All Stars and a near-All Star in the starting lineup. In the modern NBA, from Magic/Larry forward, that's the only instance of a non-superstar formula resulting in a Finals appearance.
Key to Victory: At this point, "victory" means having everyone as healthy as possible come playoff time. Will we see Gerald Wallace play under 20 minutes?
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Neither Gordon nor Villanueva have started more than 16 games this season. But I love that. The opening minutes are the least important minutes of a game. Why play your best players in the least important minutes if they're going to get 36-40, regardless?