Monday, February 22, 2016

The Detroit Pistons. Weird

There's nothing wrong with going to see your local NBA team play a game. If you can afford it. Like all other pro sports, everything from parking, to ticket prices, to concessions have gone through the roof. Why this is would seem to be a good question. The insane salaries players make these days are a part of it but, by the same token, teams are awash in TV money as well. But that's an argument for another day.

In short, the Detroit Pistons have been fairly lousy since their last glory years over a decade ago. Combine bad draft picks, whiffing in the free-agency market, totally botching the salary cap, and poor coaching -- and that will pretty much always wind up with a losing team. Or at the very least, not a chance in hell of being championship contenders. So it has been for many years. Throw in the fact, or at least perception, that the Detroit area isn't exactly considered a prime destination for star players to want to go to, and their struggles should come as no great surprise.

Currently, the Pistons find themselves just a shade under .500 in the weak by comparison Eastern Conference of the NBA. In the East, there's really only two good teams. Cleveland and Toronto. The West has its patsies like the LA Lakers, Minnesota, and Phoenix, but they've got a bunch of brutes as well. All of which are far superior to the Pistons.

Nevertheless, the Pistons remain on the cusp of making it into the postseason. They might sneak in as a 7th or 8th seed. In which case they'd likely get blasted out of the playoffs in the first round by the above-mentioned Cavs or Raptors. To think they have title aspirations is pure folly. Even the club itself has admitted their goal is to merely MAKE the playoffs. Maybe they will -- and maybe they won't.

So again, there's nothing wrong in ponying up the price for admission, as long as one realizes it's for entertainment purposes only. In any particular game the Pistons might win -- or lose -- but it's about enjoying the moment. Where people go off their emotional rails is when they start thinking there's a chance, just a chance, the Pistons are better than their record suggests. They are decidedly not. In that respect they resemble the Detroit Lions. They might make the playoffs, but no way are they going to shock the world with a deep run. They just aren't good enough. Period. And all the cheering and koolaid swigging among the hard cores isn't going to change it.

Yet every once in a while the Pistons do something that boggles the imagination. Everybody is aware of the Golden State Warriors. Reigning world champs and off to the best start this year in NBA history. A whopping 50-5 record.speaks for itself.

But back on Jan 16, somehow the lowly Pistons managed to defeat the high-flying Warriors. And the game wasn't even close. It was a blow-out. How the hell did that happen? Was GS looking ahead to their next game in Cleveland two days later-- where they would run the Cavs out of their own building? Maybe. Still -- how can the same team get thumped by the dregs of Detroit and then turn right around and destroy the beast of the East? Weird.

Just recently, the Pistons got pounded in New Orleans, including giving up 59 points and 20 rebounds to a 22 year old kid named Anthony Davis. This was only the third time in NBA history a player had put up numbers like that in a game. The other two were named Wilt and Shaq.

Meanwhile, Lebron and the Cavs were out in Okla City putting a colossal beat-down on a semi-elite Thunder team.

Both teams then had to fly. Detroit from New Orleans to Cleveland, and the Cavs from Okla City back home.

Detroit had lost 5 games in a row and was reeling. Cleveland had won five games in a row and was soaring. Cleveland was playing at home. It should have been a no-brainer. The vastly better team would run roughshod over inferior opponents.

Yet incredibly the Pistons beat the Cavs by 8 points. Not a blow-out, but a decent margin of victory.

How in the HELL did THAT happen?

The Detroit Pistons may or may not be a lot of things, but there's no disputing one fact.

Those guys do something very weird every once in a while. Of course when a team has a head coach that is also the president -- with two general managers in between -- arguably the goofiest front office chain of command in the history of professional sports (somewhat reminiscent of Bud and Lou's classic "who's on first?" routine), occasional weird results probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise either.

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