The 2010-11 season is here. No, it is here. The season is underway and we can finally stop conjecturing and start making sense of this summer of upheaval. The new season will be much different than the old. So let's continue thinking and previewing 2011 and all the hope and promise that comes with it.
Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog.com has organized the NBA Blog Preview, consisting of all the best basketball blogs across the Internet, to help everyone get ready. I am trying to keep up and give a Magic-centered look at each team being previewed.
Last Year: 27-55, Missed Playoffs
Last Year vs. Magic: Lost 85-80 in Detroit (11/3); Won 110-103 in Orlando (11/6); Won 91-86 in Detroit (1/31); Won 116-91 in Orlando (2/17)
This Year vs. Magic: Nov. 30 in Orlando (7 p.m.); Dec. 3 in Detroit (7:30 p.m.); Jan. 24 in Orlando (7 p.m.)
Magic Connection: Tracy McGrady (Player, 2000-04); Brian Hill (Coach, 1993-97, 2005-07)
The Pistons still wear the same jerseys as they did in 2003. Even though the players have almost completely changed, Detroit still has this strange aura and mystique about them when it comes to Orlando. Detroit might be the bottom of the barrel in the Eastern Conference, but Joe Dumars, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince (and even Rodney Stuckey) still give Orlando fans nightmares.
This is not the Bad Boy Pistons or the Bad Boy II Pistons. This is a team still looking for an identity and still trying to figure out how to fit together new and old.
That has made them a little bit easier to pick off for the Magic to pick off and has lowered the old Pistons-Magic rivalry. Dwight Howard does not have issues with their bigs as Rasheed Wallace is gone. Jameer Nelson has no troubles with their point guards with Chauncey Billups gone. The balance of their scoring and hard-nosed defense has greatly dissipated.
But there is still copious amounts of offensive talent on this team, and with a second year together they could get better. Ben Gordon can quietly put up a whole lot of points. Charlie Villanueva is a solid offensive player. Rodney Stuckey still shows a lot of promise as a young scoring point guard. And then of course there is the old stalwarts of Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.
All are great individuals, but most would agree none could be THE guy on any team. And you notice there was not a big man listed among any of the best players on this team. Detroit is still very much a work in progress.
How the Pistons will beat the Magic: It may take some of the old Detroit magic to beat Orlando this season. But the Pistons handed the Magic their first loss last year and nothing would surprise anyone when these two teams meet. Soon after that first loss, Charlie Villanueva nearly single-handedly led Detroit back to a victory at Amway Arena.
For whatever reason these games end up close. Go figure. It might just be one of those matchups.
Detroit has a lot of wing players that can do a lot of damage. So shooting is key. Stuckey has to be able to break down the Magic defense and get them to sink in and Hamilton and Prince have to be making their shots to keep Orlando off balance. Without much of an inside presence, Detroit's success against Orlando could very well come down to whether or not Detroit can hit shots.
How the Magic will beat the Pistons: Solid defense and keeping penetration to a minimum will help. Detroit is going to have to hit jumpers to be successful, so you might as well make it more difficult. Dwight Howard undoubtedly helps. And his inside presence will be crucial on both ends of the floor.