A break from this underwhelming West-coast trip and my usual sarcasm to bring you some causes for optimism.
Keith Langlois' latest blog entry on Pistons.com provides some unique insight into Joe Dumars' mindset on this year's Pistons squad, coming just after Monday night's gut-wrenching loss in Utah. And despite the tortuous results of that game, Joe's soothing words should bring you down off that bridge.
Here's an excerpt:
Team presidents – the good ones, at least – must take the long view. And in the long view, Joe Dumars liked what he saw Monday night in Utah, when the Pistons battled in a tough building against the hottest team of the NBA’s opening week, didn’t get many favorable whistles – how many offensive fouls can wispy Rip Hamilton accumulate? – and still took the game to the final second.
Yup. Joe Dumars liked what he saw. He liked it very much.
And he told Flip Saunders so. "We’re going to be OK," Dumars told him. "Now I know that we’re going to have a very good team this year."
Relax...doesn't that feel better?
I jest, of course. I don't think many of us on Detroit Bad Boys are shortsighted enough to fly off the handle after five games. But you do get the sense -- as Matt pointed out last night -- that many casual fans are watching and waiting for the team's collapse.
We avid fans will recognize that -- with a challenging early-season schedule, four new rotation players, and some feeling-out during the initial hardass period of the NBA's "no-tolerance" policy -- the Pistons have limited the damage.For examples of teams who haven't, see Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix. And despite early season fears of the contrary, they've rebounded and defended adequately in the absense of you-know-who, and their bench is providing quality, game-saving minutes. In fact, if you had to identify one segment of the Pistons' overall game that has stumbled out of the gate, it would be the offense. The Pistons have shot over 50% only once in five games (50.7% v. the Grizz) and are in the bottom third of the league in shooting percentage.
With offense the unquestioned strength of this team (eventually...we hope), and the defense suffering far less than most predicted, you have to like the Pistons' chances of challenging again for the top spot in the East.
Ahh...optimism feels good, doesn't it? Almost good enough to block out the loss to Ron Ron last night...
Looking Ahead [Pistons.com]