It's been a couple of days since Jason Maxiell's coming out party and he's still the only thing anyone wants to talk about. Flip Saunders addressed after Monday's practice how Maxiell will fit into the rotation once Rasheed Wallace returns.Most likely on Thursday.. From the Detroit News:
"Maxey is not going to play 32 minutes a night, but he's going to play," coach Flip Saunders said. "He's earned that. He comes to practice every day and plays hard."
OK, so he didn't really address how, he just kind of said, "trust me, it'll happen." Though we've been down this path before, I actually believe him this time. Consider this: Rasheed is currently averaging 35.3 minutes per game, which is up from 34.8 last year when everyone complained the starters were getting too many minutes. I wouldn't mind reducing his minutes to about 30. I don't know if Flip is seriously considering that, but he suggested as much. From the Free Press:
"Now, I might cut minutes," Saunders said. "But that's because of how these other guys are playing. 'Sheed's always been a guy who can still get you big numbers in lower minutes. Even if he plays 28, 29 minutes, he might get you the same stats he'd get you in 35."
That's very true, though it's funny how Saunders suggests it's a good thing. Think about it: he's basically saying Sheed routinely disappears for about six minutes a game. Oh well, let's move on.
Antonio McDyess is a notoriously slow starter, but if you remember at this point last year he had already turned things around. Nevertheless, Flip isn't worried yet, though he may reduce his minutes in the interim. From the Free Press:
Saunders has said he assumes McDyess will return to his usual sixth-man form sometime around the All-Star break. But he also said he would let performances on the court dictate playing time.
"We have to ride it out and see," Saunders said. "As I've always said, I don't determine who plays. Guys who play well will play."
I still hope Nazr Mohammed grows into his role, but what he's doing this year isn't too far off with what he's done for most of his career. He's never been a 30 minute a night player before, I guess there's no reason to think he'll be one on a contender like the Pistons. With that in mind, I don't think it'll be tough to find playing time for Dale Davis, who should continue to share the five spot with Nazr.
If the last two games have shown us anything it's that Davis and Maxiell play extremely well together. Maybe that shouldn't be too surprising -- I'm guessing the two have practiced on the same unit since training camp. Plus, the two seem to enjoy playing together and have already given themselves a nickname. From the Freep:
When paired, Davis and Maxiell -- the Good Squad or the Bruise Brothers, they're calling themselves -- wreak havoc in the lane.
"There's no question that when those guys are on the floor, the identity of our team changes," Saunders said. "We become a much more grind-it-out, physical, go-after-you (team), both offensively and defensively."
I like Bruise Brothers better than the Good Squad ((Is there a story behind "Good" Squad? Or are they just too nice of guys off the court to call them the Goon Squad?)) -- what do you guys think?