The hangover continues...
"I'm so tired of you all talking about Ben," said Detroit power forward Antonio McDyess, who is not easily irritated. "He's gone, we're not going to get him back. It's about us trying to come together as a team to find our identity now that he's gone."
Well, Game 1 of the 2006-2007 campaign confirmed what I thought about this Pistons team. The simple truth is that this is a team that still has to figure out who it is. That my sound absurd given the fact that its returning 4 starters (3 of whom are coming off All-Star years), but it's the simple truth. Losing Ben was just one factor in a perfect storm of events that is forcing this team to find a new identity. Along with Ben's departure we have the addition of a new starting center, the transition of the team from a defensive orientation to a more free-flowing offensively focused style of play (which started last year), and the challenge of developing a bench. Throw in the fact that we aren't allowed to complain anymore and that Flip has to find a way to really gain control of this team and we're headed for a bumpy few months - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The team needs to figure itself out and it'll take some bumps and bruises to do it.
There were some bright spots in today's game. The bench got some burn and Maxiell and Delfino looked alright. With some playing time, they should be able to spell the starters for sustained periods of time. Flip Murray and Nazr looked alright - it'll take some time for the rotation to works itself out and for them to feel comfortable (and us to feel comfortable watching them) on the court; remember Nazr isn't in his best shape yet and Murray still doesn't really know what his role is when he's out on the court. I think that Delfino, though, will be more important than Murray by the end of the season. Also, it's pretty clear that this is Chauncey's team - in the 4th quarter I saw him barking at the other players, "We can't stop now." It's good that he's taking over...but maybe it's bad that he has to say that IN THE FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON.
Uh! This season's going to be interesting!
Frankly, the team is going to be fine IF two things happen. First, the team has to recommit itself to trying every night. Jim was completely right when he made the point that this team hasn't tried in 3 years. More importantly, it hasn't had to think that it NEEDS to try. Now, they need to try. They need to try on offense and they damn sure need to try on defense. And that goes for everyone (Nazr alone isn't responsible for 68 points in the paint!) - if we're playing man defense then people have to stay in front of their man and play help defense; if we're playing zone then they have to commit to zone. Second, 'Sheed needs to keep his head in the game. The NBA changed its whining rules and he has to adapt - it's that simple. We can't afford games where he goes 0-3 in the first half and then decides to peace out to the locker room for the second half.
Get your swag back, kid!!!!
I would have loved it if the Pistons had won this game or at least lost it in a competitive fashion. At least that way they would still be able to fly under the radar. But if the year gets off to a rough start, the media might be all over this team for the next few weeks and it seems that gut-check time could come a lot sooner than it should. Anyway, the first few months of this season are very important, but not just in terms of wins and losses - we don't want any of the players to mentally check out or get complacent. I think we'll hover slightly above .500 for the first few months of the season and then start destroying people. Actually, I think we're gonna go 71-1 and Jason Maxiell will be named MVP of the league. Actually (for real this time), I think we still win the Central and then have to slug it out in the playoffs. Ain't nothin' nice this year.
MVP! MVP! MVP!
Alright, I'm done writing. We've decided to do a few more predictions for the NBA season that are strictly Pistons oriented. Those will be up tomorrow.
Posted by The Realests at 12:16 AM