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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It has no structure! It's the dreaded "assorted thoughts" post! It's Simmons-esque!

Here goes.

SHEEEEEEEEEED. Obviously, right? That was clearly the man's best game as a Piston. Twenty points, four of five on three-pointers, ten rebounds, three blocks, and a critical charge taken at the end of the game. So I think now is an appropriate time to expound on the brilliance of Joe Dumars once again. Let's not focus on all the things that make Sheed a perfect fit for the Pistons tactically. Let's just focus on this: Sheed is definitely the craziest mofo in the league for as long as Ron Artest is suspended. He was the center of the Jailblazer sideshow, a weed-smoking, ref-threatening, technical-gathering wildman that once spent an entire press conference responding to every question with "Both teams played hard."

Dumars somehow sensed that the massive disturbance in the force embodied by Rasheed Wallace would work in Detroit. And it did! Rasheed's on- and off-court demeanor, so destructive in Portland, is actually a benefit to Detroit because the rest of the starting lineup is the nicest in the NBA. Hamilton, Billups, Prince, and Wallace are all great players and better people, but it's hard to imagine them guaranteeing games and then backing it up with authority. Rasheed gives Detroit fire--just like Nike says. Detroit seems composed of all the best qualities of its players. The Pistons have Ben's work ethic, Billups' coolness, Hamilton's energy, and Prince's intelligence. Rasheed gives them defiant confidence. He fits like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. And it's all so obvious now, but only Joe Dumars saw it 15 months ago.

The Bench. I think we should no longer hear about the Pistons bench being their downfall. Antonio McDyess was spectacular last night. Carlos Arroyo had seven assists in 11 minutes. Elden Campbell and Lindsay Hunter both played stretches of excellent defense against Shaq and Wade, respectively.

Arroyo coming around makes a huge difference. Everyone thought he was a star after he helped Puerto Rico demolish the USA in the Olympics but he must have accidentally slept with Jerry Sloan's wife a la Major League or something, because he was quickly buried deep on Team White Supremacy's bench (I think I stole "Team White Supremacy" from Simmons, but it may have been someone else). When Dumars stole him for a late-first round pick everyone was expecting magic out of him and was disappointed. Arroyo couldn't get off the bench, and when he did he was making fancy behind the back passes to whatever semi-celebrity was sitting in the front row.

We should have seen this coming. Larry Brown drives point guards nuts. Remember Chauncey's reaction to Larry Brown? Chafing, chafing, chafing. Brown's "play the right way" mantra drives his players crazy after a while--that's why he has to keep switching teams--and the point guard always gets the brunt of it, because sharing the ball and encouraging movement always starts with him. There was no way that Arroyo was going to leap out of Jerry Sloan's dog house, shake off the rust, and smoothly transition to a Pistons contributor. There was going to be pain. And there was. Unlike Delfino, Arroyo played through it and finally got some meaningful playing time in Game 4 against the Pacers. He played well, but it was a brief stretch during Game 5 that let everyone know that the light had gone on. Arroyo set up McDyess up for a bunny, then drew a charge from Jamal Tinsley, immediately tossed a lob to Ben Wallace that he threw down for a thunderous dunk, then forced a turnover and hit a wide open Billups, who drained a three. By the time he was done the Palace was rocking and the Pistons were up seven. Indiana was drifting towards its Game 6 Reggie Miller Farewell Ceremony. Have I already called Dumars a genius? Damn.

Tayshaun. Dwayne Wade ran smack into the harsh reality of Tayshaun Prince. Prince has the unbelievable ability to make me, a Pistons fan, want whoever he is guarding to shoot a ton... no matter who it is. Tracy McGrady? Enjoy that second round... on TNT. Kobe Bryant? Thanks for the championship. Dwayne Wade? Seven. For. Twenty-five. If you are a superstar shooting guard or small forward and you have the misfortune to play the Pistons in the playoffs, just pass the ball.

Doesn't Tayshaun have to be considered one of the NBA's top five small forwards now? He is the best perimeter defender in the league (period), shoots threes, can post up anyone smaller than him, rebounds, and even has a handle that allows him to play point forward sporadically. His scoring average isn't off the charts but it doesn't have to be on the all-for-one, one-for-all Pistons. Most importantly, he will take your max-earning superstar and turn him into a net negative for your team. He singlehandedly takes teams built around a perimeter superstar drawing tons of attention and destroys their entire team concept. What's more valuable, being the guy who can put up 40 any given night or being the guy who can lock down the guy who can put up 40 every night?

GO! Pistons. Now has a link to the blog. I am joyous. The operator of the site has also given permission for shirts as long as the web address stays on the images. I'm workin' on it.