Friday, March 4

Game Night: Detroit Rock City

This isn't the same Pistons team that Larry Brown was bemoaning earlier in the year. Well, being that Larry would bemoan St. Peter for his inability to defend the screen and roll adequately (hey, Larry, you try moving laterally in leather sandals), maybe that's not a good opening statement.

In any event, the Pistons are hotter than a '79 Buick with a leaky radiator. On Jan. 26, Detroit stood at 23-18, hardly a record befitting a defending champion. As of today, they're 36-20, which even for a math-plagued guy like me means they've gone 13-2 in that time, including a recent 8-game win streak the Suns snapped the other night.

How have they done it? Simple - rebounding, defense, and an improved Tayshaun Prince. Even in their loss to the Suns, Detroit outrebounded Nash & Co. 56-37, and only a 34-point 4Q enabled the Suns to grab a close (100-97) win.

No, the Sonics are going to be in trouble tonight. The Pistons hold opponents to a eFG% of only 45.9%, compared to Seattle's nearly 50% (yeah, that's right, eFG, eFG = Effective FG% = (FGM+3PM/2)/FGA)). They don't commit alot of fouls (either offensively or defensively) and they defend the hell out of the interior. You want to know the difference between a team with good interior defense (Detroit) and one that, well, isn't so good (Seattle)? Here it is: On close-range shots Seattle's opponents make 59% of their shots. Detroit's foes? 49%.

Luckily, the Sonics are back home and Detroit is playing its fifth road game in a week. The line says Sonics by a point and a half. I say take the Pistons and the points and run to your nearest bookie.

WORTH NOTING: The Suns were able to knock down their 3's against the Pistons, connecting on 11 of 20. That's a good sign for the Sonics ... Tayshaun Prince has emerged as a scoring threat for Detroit, keying their run. He averaged 20 ppg in February, and followed up a 48% 3-point pct. in Jan. with a 46% mark in Feb. ... Sonic stat of the month for February: AD posted 14 assists for every turnover he committed. For perspective, Luke had the next best mark with a 4:1 ratio.

Prediction: Pistons 95 - Sonics 88
Record Against the Spread: 15-10

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