46-36 (Tom), 54-28 (Gil)
Last Year’s Record
Raise your hand: who thought that Rasheed Wallace’s attempt at beating Tim Donaghy’s ass would turn out to be justified? Yeah, about as many of us who thought that he’d be the difference-maker for a chamionship team. Life’s funny like that.
In an ongoing testament to how crappy the east has been this decade, the Pistons continue to win pretty much by memory. They’ve added a couple of rotation guys in the last two seasons, but this is really a team built for the playoffs, with the Big 4 — Billups, Hamilton, Prince, Rasheed — posting around 40 minutes/night, unless they can get a blowout on. They didn’t miss a beat without Ben Wallace last year because Wallace was old, had no offense, and was never a good one-on-one defender.
I imagine they’ll start off strong, lose interest during the season, and figure to turn it on before the playoffs, so they can eke out homecourt advantage over the Celtics and/or Bulls. They’ve withered in the past two seasons against strong defenses, so this might be the year they got knocked out a round early.
Rejoinder From Tom
I figure I’ll be watching a lot of this year’s Detroit squad play this year’s Philly squad when I’m in Hell, so I’m going to change the channel whenever they’re on.
Gratuitous Comics Connection
Stick figure master Matt Feazell lives in nearby Hamtramck.
Gratuitous Pharma Connection
Pfizer has pretty extensive operations in Kalamazoo, MI, as part of their acquisition of Pharmacia. Unfortunately, they closed a bunch of research facilities in Ann Arbor recently, which led one of the local papers to call me for comment.
The Bottom Line
The core of this team was good enough to get to the eastern finals again last year, but Flip “Bronzer Medal” Saunders’ awful coaching left ’em running on no cylinders. Nothing’s gonna change. –GR