Thursday, April 19, 2007

Eastern Conference First Round Preview

#1 Detroit Pistons vs. #8 Orlando Magic

This one could be ugly. Even putting aside the obvious differences in talent, experience, and coaching; these are two teams headed in opposite directions. Orlando jumped out to a 12-4 start in November on the back of the first of Dwight Howard's 60 double-double's for the season (23 and 24 ?!?!?). But, much like the Kansas City Royals or Milwaukee Brewers or whatever shitty baseball team jumped out to a 6-3 start this season, this magical (hilarious) season couldn't last. Howard's a beast, but without any legitimate shooting guards on the team (Jameer Nelson led all Magic guards with 13.0ppg) he was fighting off double and triple teams all season. This led to an awful 18-23 record in the second half. While they've won six of their last seven, five of these wins came against teams either actively trying to lose or not trying to win. In fact, their only loss during this stretch came at the hands of, you guessed it, the Detroit Pistons.

On the other hand, the Pistons went 29-12 in the second half and made arguably the best pick-up of the season in Chris Webber. Now if I had millions of dollars and Webber's weed habits (I guess I have at least one of these), I would have spent the rest of the season on the couch with a PS3 and a 25 pound bag of gummy bears. But Webber saw this as inspiration to revitalize his game. I would argue it had as much to do with the Piston's system as it did with any sort of revelation on Webber's part. Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince in particular are adept at cutting to the basket and making the most of Webber's passing out of the post, and Billups is always there to provide an option off the dribble to mix things up. Plus, worst-case scenario, if the Pistons are down three with a second to go, Sheed could always do this:

Pick: Unless I missed the news and they moved the Cannabis Cup to Detroit this weekend, Pistons in 4

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