It's been nearly 10 years since Richard Hamilton has visited the Palace for the other guys. 10 years, 14,049 points, 499 wins, three All Star appearances and one championship later, and Richard Hamilton is visiting the Palace as a Chicago Bull. It's going to feel as weird for us as it will for him.
Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
Chicago Bulls: 5 - 1 (3 - 1 road)
Detroit Pistons: 2 - 3 (2 - 1 home)
Rip Hamilton might be visiting as a Bull tonight, but it's not clear whether or not he'll suit up. Hamilton has missed two games in a row with a sore groin that could keep him on the bench for a third. If he plays, expect his role to be limited. If he's healthy, expect him to try to remind Pistons fans what they're missing...
Plenty of us aren't missing him so much. Ben Gordon is off to another Hot Start (tm), and the tone in Detroit seems to be eerily positive. Hamilton's twilight years in Detroit weren't so positive, as his declining game was overshadowed by injuries and infighting. It's a shame, because if Hamilton hadn't signed that extension in 2008, he would have left Detroit a winner, and his legacy as a Piston would be uniformly revered, not tarnished with ugly anecdotes. Still, it'll be unfortunate if there is more booing than cheering tonight.
Then there's the rest of the Bulls. Derrick Rose has started 2011-12 looking like an MVP, which wasn't a clear case in 2010-11. He's shooting less, passing more, improving his range and rarely missing at the stripe. It certainly doesn't suck for the Bulls that Rose is only 23. It does suck for the rest of us in the Eastern Conference.
Joakim Noah, on the other hand, doesn't appear to be himself so far this season. He started out last season putting up 16 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks over the first six games. This year, he's started out putting up only half that. I'm certain Noah will catch his stride, but for now, Joakim Who? (immediately upon writing those last two words, I realized that I had just cursed Detroit and Noah will drop 20 and 20 on the Pistons tonight. My bad fellas)
For the rest of the crew, what else is new? LuolDengisLuolDeng, CarlosBoozerisBarlosCoozer and KyleKorverisAstonKutcher.
Keys to the Game:
Defensive Momentum - On the glass and on defense, Detroit just had a marvelous pair of games against high profile opponents. The Pistons frontcourt starters out-rebounded two 20+ rebound frontcourt pairings in a remarkable fashion. They face another one tonight in Joakim Noah and Barlos Coozer. Protect the glass and keep Chicago's scorers outside of their comfort zones.
Pick up the pace - I don't know how many times I saw this happen over the last two games, but Detroit would make an awesome outlet pass to a running squad, then the ball would wind up in Prince's hand and he'd reset the offense. Yes, I may be unfairly calling out Tayshaun because all of that Isolayshaun garbage was like Chinese water torture last year. It just feels like this team wants to run so badly, but they're still scared to do it. Detroit is last-in-place in terms of pace once again, and it hurts my heart to watch.
Feed the Moose - I'm not going to pencil this in for the rest of the season. I'm going to tattoo it in. Not as a tramp stamp though, because that would be really creepy.
Question of the Game:
Hey, Detroit did a remarkable job on two of the Eastern Conference's best teams. Can lightning strike thrice?