Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Pistons & Other Playoff Thoughts

Now, isn't this what we've all come to expect? About a week and a half late, the Detroit Pistons have finally showed up to the playoffs. After sleeping through the first few games of the Philadelphia series, Detroit turned on the jets at halftime of Game 4 and hasn't looked back. I fully expect the Pistons to steal at least one in Orlando. That will set up a potential Game 5 clincher back in Auburn Hills. If this Celtics-Cavs series goes as long as I expect it to, Detroit could have itself a nice long rest. Whether that helps or hurts is like the chicken or the egg question, it really depends on the individuals involved. On a team playing as many veterans as we're playing, a little rest certainly wouldn't hurt. With that said, let me go through a few notes I have on the series thus far.

  • What do you readers think of the Pistons' bench minutes in the playoffs? Too much or too little? Or just right? Frankly, I'd like to see Jarvis Hayes more. I like his outside-shooting and he did nothing wrong in the regular season to deserve this drop in minutes. Granted, he may not be able to defend Turkoglu, but when someone like Bogans is out there, give Hayes some time. Let Prince rest a bit for god sake.
  • I'm glad Saunders put Lindsey Hunter on the IL and gave Stuckey full confidence as the backup point. I don't want Stuckey looking over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake. He earned that role off the bench over the last 3 months of the year. Hunter circa 1995 might deserve some PT, Hunter 2008 does not warrant more than an assistant coaching job. With that in mind, I would like to see Stuckey score a little more. He's looked a bit tentative in the playoffs. I miss the Stuckey of the regular season that would drive the lane with abandon and draw fouls. He might be too afraid to make a mistake in the playoffs, but that style has been successful for him and he shouldn't change it.
  • How huge has Theo Ratliff been for us? Playing only 16 regular season games usually isn't a recipe for playoff success (i.e Hunter), but Theo has been a solid contributor off the pine. He still has much of his leaping ability and athleticism he had when we drafted him out of Wyoming. Compared to our previous old backups (Dale Davis and Elden Campbell), Ratliff seems like a blockbuster signing. Those two were basically washed-up by the time they arrived in Detroit. Our frontcourt depth is a major reason for our playoff success the past 5 years. Think about it, who has hurt us in our playoff losses? It's really been the wing players. Kobe did more damage than Shaq in the 2004 Finals, Wade the same for Miami. LeBron obviously last year. Michael Redd had a few big games against us in the first round a couple years ago. Other than a Reggie Evans-type fluke, we've been able to consistently shut down the opponents' posts. A big reason is the play of guys like Ratliff and Maxiell, who by the way, were both playing in crunch-time last night.
  • I've yet to hear a valid reason why Kobe Bryant is the MVP instead of Chris Paul. Can any of you explain that one to me? Paul led the Hornets to the second-best record in the West in his 3rd year. He averaged 20 ppg while also leading the league in assists, which no one has done since Magic in 1988. This smells like a lifetime achievement award for Kobe, rather than a single season honor. If anything, Kobe should have gotten the MVP two years ago when he scored 35/gm and took a ragtag bunch of Lakers to the playoffs. He had a better supporting cast this season, no wonder his team had a better record. Ask any coach or GM in the NBA and I'm sure they'll tell you point guard is a tougher position to play than shooting guard. Much like awarding a SS or CF in baseball over a 1B or LF, Chris Paul's tougher position makes him the better bet.
  • Remember when he thought the Western Conference playoffs would be the most exciting time for the NBA in years? There has been blowout after blowout so far and no series have excited me yet. Utah closed the gap on LA in the second half Sunday, but the Lakers still controlled the tempo throughout. I want some back-and-forth exciting basketball, for a whole series. When that Spurs-Suns game went double-OT in Game 1, we all were primed for an intense 2 months. But, since then, it's been a major disappointment. Really, the East has been more exciting. Boston-Atlanta was out of nowhere, even if Game 7 was a snooze. Washington-Cleveland, nothing if not amusing, was physical and both teams were constantly on the verge of a flagrant. Philadelphia put a scare into Detroit for a 3.5 games. Only Orlando-Toronto was sort of bland, offering little except for Dwight Howard's Moses Malone impression.
  • Now, with LeBron vs. the Celtics looming, I can't help but think this series may best anything the West has to offer. I wasn't old enough to appreciate the Jordan v. Pistons/Celtics in the late 80s, but I imagine this to be similar. The Bulls had yet to blend the proper supporting players around Jordan, much like the Cavs' sorry state beyond LeBron. It wouldn't surprise me to see James go off for 45-50 in a few games. Boston has been recognized for its defense all year, but as James proved last year against Detroit, he can beat any defense. Last year, it was Daniel Gibson that stepped up behind LeBron and Big Z. Who will be this year? Cleveland desperately needs someone to be that 3rd guy or else they'll fall, likely in six or seven games.

  • One more question, baseball-style: Why, why, why won't Detroit sign Barry Bonds? How is this not a good idea? We have an open spot at DH/LF; he can platoon with Sheffield lefty-righty if need be; Leyland can mix and match Ordonez, Bonds, Sheffield through the outfield and DH spots; Our window of opportunity is now, not in three years, so Bonds' age means nothing; Illitch has shown he will spend the money; Bonds has a history with Leyland from Pittsburgh; we give Bonds an excellent shot to win a World Series because we're still only 3 games out of the division. C'mon, this has to work, right?
  • Since that probably won't ever happen, let's root for newcomer Matt Joyce. He's a 23-year-old who hit .299/.367/.563 in Toledo this year. Before this April, Joyce had never slugged over .500 in the minors. Let's hope this is breakout and not a small sample fluke. In any case, he can't be any worse and he'll almost certainly hit for more power than Clete Thomas did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

KEEP PLAYING THE BENCH! They have proven they can contribute with good numbers, and Theo Ratliff deserves more time! Although I did see him take one or two plays off last nite, he has been a great backup for our bigs. I really don't care for Jarvis Hayes, he really shoots too much, but what about Hermann getting all this PT? That came out of nowhere. Now, Lindsey Hunter can still dominate ANY PG in the NBA with his overwhelming defense, I wouldn't demote him to just an assistant coaching position even though he'd be a great teacher to Stuckey. I have thought that Kobe should be the MVP all year, leading the Lakers to the best team in the West WITHOUT David Bynum. Yes, Gasol came in, but I think the Lakers were already on a roll at that point.
Barry Bonds on the Tigers...now that'd be cool.