Five observations made during last night's Piston blowout of the Spurs:
1. Tim Duncan is a great player; Tim Duncan is everything the NBA would like its star players to be; Tim Duncan is a sure Hall-of-Famer; but Tim Duncan goes into a shell when playing against Sheed and Ben. Did you see his face when Sheed drained three straight shots against him to start the night? Or as he flung up bricks from the free throw line? Or on the bench after Sheed nailed the third-quarter three over Robert Horry? Same face as in the finals last year: scared.
2. Sheed could be a dominant post player for the Pistons...if he/they wanted him to be. The original Bad Boys used to give the ball to James "Buddha" Edwards for the first three or so plays of each game, just to establish the post and get the offense into a flow. It seems that this year's team could benefit greatly from doing the same, feeding Sheed in the post to--as Chauncey stated in his post-game interview--get Sheed's head right. If Sheed is locked in every night like he was last night, don't you think he could be a 20/10 guy?
3. Rip's personal victory over Bruce Bowen last night had to feel good. I posted yesterday about Rip's recent struggles against Bowen. It was good to see him get his shots and avoid the turnovers that Bowen has at times harrassed him into. While the recent All-Star talk has been centered on Chauncey, it will be just as much an injustice if Rip isn't selected by the coaches.
4. The Pistons dominance of the Spurs on the boards is an indictment of their uninspired play against lesser opponents. I'm going to nitpick here. (Any criticism of a 28-5 team coming off a season sweep of their arch-rivals should be seen as such.) The Pistons are a better rebounding team than they've shown this season. Before last night's outburst against the Spurs, the Pistons had been outrebounded in five of their previous six games by the Hornets (22), Jazz (5), Magic (20), Cavs (10), and Heat (4) (numbers in parentheses indicate the team's league rank in rebounding). If the Pistons' hot shooting should abandon them for any stretch this season, they will have to hit the glass like they did last night--creating extra chances for themselves while limiting those of their opponent--in order to continue winning close games (regardless of the opponent).
5. I still can't believe more people aren't talking about how much Manu Ginobili looks like Balki Bartokomous. Have they ever been seen in the same room together? Uncanny.
Pistons 85, Spurs 68 box score [ESPN]
Billups scores career-high 37 as Pistons beat Magic [AP]