Grizz Revolution Squashed
As George Blaha would say, “Don’t look now!”
The Detroit Pistons (tied with the Celtics) have the best defense in the league – giving up a mere 74ppg. Coming into the season defense was the big concern, but the boys in blue and red have completely and utterly put that falsification to bed. Yes, they have the best defense in the league. No question about it.
Ok, I know, they’ve only played one game and it was against “The Grizz Nation” (formerly known as the Memphis Grizzlies). I suppose there’s no reason to begin planning a parade, but there were a few positive signs last night.
The Two 2s
Rip (25 pts. in 36 min.) and Gordon (22 pts. in 26 min.) combined to shoot 17 of 31 (55%) from the field. I believe Larry David would put it this way, “Pretty – pretty – pretty – good.” Any game that Rip and Gordon combine for an efficient 45+ points is one the Pistons should have a good chance to win.
Ben Wallace had 9 rebounds in 28 minutes last night. Not too shabby. There should be little expectation put on Wallace’s shoulders – he was brought in cheap and wasn’t expected to be a starter. Yet, with that said, he did put up decent numbers in the preseason and has gotten off to a good start in game one. He should be serviceable at forward/center. Whether or not his 64-year-old body will hold up is a whole other question.
The Pistons aren’t going to be getting many easy buckets from their big men this year. Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown (“The Big KB”) can’t catch - much less shoot - the basketball. Charlie Villanueva plays more on the perimeter than the block, and Jonas Jerebko is Swedish. But, that’s the least of their problems. Interior defense is what is going to make or break this team.
The Grizzlies starting big men were very effective against the Pistons last night. Marc Gasol (C), Rudy Gay (F) and Zach Randolph (F) combined for 51 points and 29 rebounds. Now, that is actually a pretty decent set of big men - Zach Randolph is motivated at the moment – so it’s not necessarily an indication of bad things to come. I still believe Kwame Brown can be a decent, perhaps good, defensive center.
The First 20
The first 20 games are a key for the Pistons who are a young team with a lot of new faces. Chemistry is important and things can quickly sour or solidify. Entering the season the Pistons were getting little credit from the national punditocracy. A 96-74 victory over the Grizzlies – who I believe have won a total of 9 games since moving to Memphis – won’t cause the praises to start raining down. But, they took care of business - on the road - and that’s a positive sign no matter who they played.
The Pistons should make the playoffs this year by winning somewhere between 42 and 47 games. The Eastern Conference is weak and I don’t believe 8 teams will finish ahead of them.