The Pistons are 1/4 of the way through the abbreviated 2011-12 NBA season. If the team continues to perform at this rate, fans will see 12 wins by the season's end. Even if Detroit were to play a full 82 games, the team would only win 15 of them. That would be the worst season in franchise history, worse even than the teal era of the mid 1990s. So if you're watching this team and feel like the teal years were more fun to watch than this, you're right. As of today, this is the worst the Pistons have ever been.
Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
Portland Trail Blazers: 9 - 6 (3 - 5 road)
Detroit Pistons: 3 - 13 (2 - 6 home)
LaMarcus Aldridge put up 32 points, 23 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals last night. He's having the best season of his career, and chances are he'll get snubbed from the All Star game once again. Buffoonery. Aldridge is one of many reasons why the Blazers are a solid team that perpetually flies under the radar, only to give one hell of a fight to the elite Western Conference teams it faces in the playoffs. They're missing that one piece that pushes them over the top, because a stud center could make this team a clear cut championship contender.
Sadly, that stud center is on their roster, he just hasn't played a single game since 2009-10. Greg Oden continues to recover from the micro-fracture surgery he received in November of 2010. It's really sad what injuries have done to this team, but it's remarkable that they remain competitive anyway. If they had a healthy starting lineup of Oden, Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, Brandon Roy and any damned point guard in the league, they'd need to make some extra room in their trophy case. But healthy players is something this team just doesn't have-- and I feel pretty bad for both the players and the fans.
Even despite the loss of Brandon Roy and the unfortunate status of Greg Oden, this is a surprisingly stacked team. Beyond Aldridge, they have Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton. At every position, they appear to have above-average talent regardless of those they have lost to injury. That's a pretty remarkable situation, especially when you look at Detroit's collection of overpaid, under-performing jagoffs. When you consider what Portland has accomplished with what it doesn't have, they really deserve to be commended.
Keys to the Game:
Fine someone to defend Aldridge - Okay, I'm not sure that's possible. Detroit has always had a problem guarding Aldridge and tonight won't be any different. But if the Pistons can find someone to at least slow him down or prevent open looks, that would help the team's cause tonight. Try anything. Rotate different players on him and try to find something that works. Jerebko, Maxiell, Wallace, Daye, Monroe, whatever.
Speed it up, look for transition opportunities - I remember when Detroit and Portland were the two slowest-paced teams in the league. Now, Portland is the 5th fastest, while Detroit is still in the basement despite an almost complete turnover of talent. Greg Monroe loves firing outlet passes and Brandon Knight is a speedy little bastard. Keep Tayshaun off the court for a little while and try a fast-paced transition game. It might pay off.
Moose no foul - Greg Monroe has had a few underwhelming games of late due to foul trouble. This certainly wasn't a problem for him last year, so hopefully these games have been an aberration. Take care, Greg, and look to find the deliberate, mindful nature that suits you so well. If you get overly aggressive on defense, you will hear whistles.
Feed the Moose - On the offensive end, be as aggressive as you like. But unless you're in the low post, I'd prefer to see passes instead of 16' jumpers.
Question of the Game:
If the Pistons only win 12 games this season, will Joe Dumars be around for the draft in June?