For most of the year, we've been led to believe the rotation will inevitably get shorter in the playoffs. After all, that's what conventional basketball wisdom says teams are supposed to do. A little bit ago, I argued that perhaps the Pistons ought to ignore that school of thought since their ability to bring a steady stream of rested players off the bench might be what's kept the opposition on their heels for most of the year.
Now, with the playoffs on the horizon, it seems Flip Saunders is starting to come around. Here's some comments from a recent radio interview (via Full-Court Press):
"If we continue to play the way we're playing, maybe we do extend our bench the way it is right now and the way we've gone most of the season," coach Flip Saunders said on The Stoney and Wojo Show on WDFN-AM Detroit.
While Saunders declined to name which players would be included in that rotation, he did say that Theo Ratliff would be amongst them as a situational defensive substitute.
The depth of the Pistons bench led Saunders to conclude that this year's Pistons team is the best he's coached.
"There's probably five or six games we could have won this year if we hadn't played as many young players, but I think it's paying dividends for us right now," he said. "I think because of the way the bench is and the depth that we have that this is probably our best team."
Saunders specifically praised the play of reserves Amir Johnson and Walter Herrmann, who he called the second- and third-best players in Tuesday's comeback win over Minnesota.
For fans of Herrmann, it seems we should see a lot more of him down the stretch. From Chris McCosky's blog:
Back to the business at hand, if you guys were chomping at the bit to see more of Cheikh Samb, back off. It's not happening. Here's Flip Saunders after practice today:
"We'll play him some, but it's not like we say we're going to play Cheikh a lot of minutes because I still want to play Amir a lot. I still want to play Maxey and play Walter, too."
Samb's an interesting prospect, for sure, but I have no problem whatsoever with this decision. There's no chance that he'll even be active for the playoffs, let alone getting any PT, whereas Herrmann has enough experience under his belt to think that he could step up in a pinch should the right matchup arise. Not saying it's going to happen, but I don't think it'd surprise anyone if it did.