Posted by Neil Paine on April 17, 2009
Coach: Michael Curry
Last NBA Title: 2004
5-Year Playoff Record: Won 13 Series, Lost 4, 2 Finals, 1 Title
Championship Odds: 0.0%
Key Question: What move will Dumars make to retool over the offseason?
Regular Season: Replacing Flip Saunders with rookie head coach Michael Curry and trading Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson were all part of GM Joe Dumars' promised big shakeup, but all they ended up accomplishing was shaking the Pistons to their core. Detroit had a disappointing record for much of the season's first half, and an 8-game losing skid in February pushed them below .500 after the All-Star break for the first time in years. Afterwards, losing Iverson for the season was just the latest in a string of setbacks for the Pistons; the fact that they eventually limped into the playoffs spoke more to the weakness of the East's bottom-feeders than any skill on Detroit's part.
Prime-Time Players: 1. Tayshaun Prince. Prince led the Pistons in Win Shares, and was one of the only players on the team whose numbers didn't significantly decline in '09. He's also a player who brings defense, a high basketball I.Q., and a great deal of postseason experience to this club. He's their most important player.
2. Rip Hamilton. Here's another guy with a wealth of experience, so the playoffs are old hat to him. Hamilton's stats were down this year as well, and he was infamously benched in favor of Iverson at one point, but he still scored 20.5 P/36 and was the team's most willing creator, using 26.6% of Detroit's possessions when on the floor. He's always been good in the postseason, so expect a solid effort vs. Cleveland.
3. Antonio McDyess. Dice may be getting long in the tooth, but he had another solid season for the Pistons (116 ORtg) and was an important contributor as a starter down the stretch. One of the best defensive rebounders in basketball, McDyess will come in handy on the glass against the Cavaliers.
But don't count on... Rasheed Wallace. 'Sheed is a great competitor, but in 2009 he was dinged up and had his worst season since he was a rookie. He can still bring it at times, but he's definitely not the Wallace of old and you can bet that the Cavs will exploit that fact.
Why they can win: There are plenty of vets here who are used to winning, and like Vince Lombardi once said, winning is a habit. So maybe old habits die hard?
Why they can't win: This year has been a disaster for the Pistons, and it would probably be best for everyone involved if the Cavs put them out of their misery as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
X-Factor: Remember the streak, though! The Conference Finals streak is still intact! It can still happen! (Yeah, right...)
|Pistons vs.||Off.||Def.||Reb.||Coach||Exp.||The Skinny||Prediction|
|Atlanta||Push||X||X||Pistons were swept in season series||Hawks in 5|
|Boston||Push||At least chances are better with Garnett out||Celtics in 4|
|Chicago||X||X||Push||X||Chicago took 3 of 4 in regular season||Bulls in 6|
|Cleveland||X||No way, no how||Cavs in 4|
|Miami||X||X||Heat win rematch of '05 & '06 ECFs that seem so long ago||Heat in 6|
|Orlando||X||X||Consider the "curse" broken||Magic in 5|
|Philadelphia||X||76ers get to avenge 2008 dispatching||Sixers in 6|
(Key: "X" = Advantage; blank = disadvantage)