- Jul 7, 2004
With a 4-0 start, the Clips are starting to turn heads in the NBA (just ask the Warriors, Sonics, Bulls, and Pacers). What has impressed me the most is the way theyve gotten it done, with a total team effort. Whether its Cat Mobley in one game, or Cassell in the next, who ever has had the hot hand, the team has tried to find them. Its been fun to watch this team try to prove the doubters wrong, however, they face their toughest challenge so far tonight in Motown.
The Detroit Pistons have been the most consistent team in the East this decade, having finished no worse than second in their division and with no fewer then 50 wins. They won a championship back in 2004, but have not been able to rekindle that same fire that brought the Pistons their first championship in 14 years. The talent has certainly gotten older, and Im not sure theyve infused enough new bodies to help cover the gaps. Does this mean the Pistons wont win 50 games this year? No. They might be a little older, but they have a line up that is to be feared. Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, and Chauncey Billups have been the four horsemen for many teams in the league as the can rip you apart both offensively and defensively.
They have gotten off to a good start (3-1) with three of the four on the road, and open the season with 11 of their first 18 away from the Motor City. Last year, Detroit struggled at home with a 26-15 record and said that they lost focus during games. With the way the Clips have been playing, any mental lapse for the Pistons will cost them. With that being said, the Clippers will need an extraordinary effort tonight with Mobley out of the line up. Cat was the teams leading scorer before he went down with a strained groin that will keep him out for at least a week. So, Id look for Al Thornton to get a little more run tonight, he came off the pine on Wednesday and scored a season/career high 13 against the Pacers after Mobley went down.
The theme for the season continues tonight for the keys: rebounds and turnovers. If the Clips can keep it one and done for the Pistons then they can get out and run. When you think about how tough Detroits defense is, you have to value each possession. If the Clippers get into a half court game, you must make sure you max out each possession with solid execution.
Who To Watch: Cassell and Billups. While I dont know if they will guard each other during the game, they are both battle-tested leaders with rings who thrive in the clutch. Billups isnt often mentioned in the same breath as Steve Nash or Jason Kidd, but hes every bit as influential in his teams success.
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