Planet News Views

Monday, January 30, 2006

Pistons Among NBA's Best All-Time

By Scott McLean

Detroit is on Earth right? Well, the Pistons are so much better than the competition that it just seems they are from another planet, one without basketball imperfections.

At 37-5 the Pistons just passed the halfway point to the record for wins in a season set by the Chicago Bulls and are now ahead of the pace. Even if they don't match the Bulls' 72 wins, the Pistons have shown all NBA opponents they mean business.

Detroit is more impressive than they were two years ago when they won the NBA championship because they can score at will and are better than any other team at coming from behind in the fourth quarter. Sometimes, however, they blow out an opponent earlier in the game.

The Pistons built a huge fourth quarter lead over the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday before closing them out with a comfortable 9-point win. Credit the Lakers for not giving up, but in reality this game was not close at all.

Detroit's starting five players draw comparisons with some of the all-time great starting lineups. Guards Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton deserve strong consideration for Most Valuable Player because as I have pointed out before, MVP is not just about leading the league in scoring.

The toughest backcourt in the NBA plays solid defense, can pass with the best of them, slash to the basket for a layup or dish to teammates as well as shoot three-pointers and make it all look easy.

On a powerhouse team loaded with talented players there probably will never be a player who averages 30 points a game. Okay, Michael Jordan was the remarkable exception to that rule and all the Bulls couldn't lead the team in scoring on a given night.

By stark contrast, the Pistons have five different heroes who can be the most productive in a game in various categories: scoring, rebounding, assists or defensive plays.

Here is something to think about... Teams lose when they take low-percentage shots, force too many three pointers, and are unable to work the ball inside. Teams that don't have a half-court game probably will be eliminated early in the playoffs. Conversely, the Pistons drive to the basket, pass the basketball unselfishly and their offense starts with superb defense.

As we have heard many times before, championships are won with defense. Expect the Pistons to continue to get better on defense as the playoffs draw near, which will be scary for the rest of the league. It would seem the only way to deny them a championship is to match their defense and only a few teams have what it takes.

Next time I will have more about the Pistons and make some comments about the other contenders for the NBA title.

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