As long as the Pistons keep winning and the Knicks keep losing, the "Larry Brown/Flip Saunders" story will be a popular one, especially in the national press. Personally, I'm already growing weary of that angle, since it diminishes the fact that Detroit simply has a lot of very talented and selfless players.
So when I started to read Chris Ballard's article over at SI.com, I was a little bored with the first few paragraphs:
With each win, one expects that Saunders' reputation will be burnished, and that Larry Brown's may receive a nick or too. But one could also interpret the Pistons' success as a testament to Brown's coaching, the idea being that the players are so programmed, especially defensively, that they are almost self-coaching at this point.
After watching Detroit last night at Arco in Sacramento, I left with the feeling that the credit lies with both men: Brown for instilling the veteran group with excellent defensive principles and unselfish offensive ones, and Saunders for knowing not to mess with a good thing on defense and for installing a fast-breaking offensive system that appears a perfect fit for the Pistons personnel.
But then I was happily surprised -- Ballard segues from the tired discussion of the coaching change to a detailed breakdown as to why the Pistons may run one of the best fast breaks in the game:
Time and again Tuesday night, Detroit cleared a defensive rebound and triggered a break, leading to easy dunks or lay-ups. On at least two occasions, the Pistons even ran breaks off of made baskets; the most impressive occurring in the first quarter when Rasheed Wallace grabbed the ball out of the net and fired a beautiful 3/4-court baseball pass to Richard Hamilton, who laid it in, summoning visions of a Detroit-Marymount attack. It sounds weird to say that Detroit might have one of the best fast-breaks in the league, but it could be the case.
He lists the reasons why, which boil down to 1) Reliable defensive rebounding; 2) Track team finishers; and 3) Good decisions. He does a pretty good job explaining each reason, but for the sake of brevity (and to encourage you to actually read the article yourself), I'm only including the bullet points. So go on, read it.