It’s so hard to always keep the big picture in mind. That’s why the events of the last few weeks were bound to alarm some Pistons fans.
- The Pistons went 5-4 after a 36-5 first half of the season
- Eastern rivals Miami and New Jersey have beaten them in the last few weeks
- San Antonio is threatening to overtake the Pistons for the best record in the league
We must all remember that there is ebb and flow with all athletic performance and that all things are in flux in big time sports. The Pistons created such outsized expectations by performing nearly perfectly first half of the season that there had to be a leveling off. By the same token, teams like New Jersey and Miami had under-performed, and were bound to come together at some point.
Remember this time two years ago? The Pistons were 33-21 at the All-Star break and made the trade for Rasheed Wallace before streaking to the finish line with a 20-6 mark. These next few weeks will be very interesting. The Pistons may make a move, as may any of their rivals and send us all into wild frenzies of speculation.
When the Pistons reached 35-5, we made all the obligatory comparisons to the 1984 Detroit Tigers and tried to compare the performances. What we couldn’t compare is what happened after that. The Tigers went just 69-53 the rest of the way, and although they wound up winning comfortably, the Toronto Blue Jays threatened to overcome them several times.
The Pistons may encounter more choppy waters or they may streak ahead again. That’s the beauty of sports. It’s been a fascinating 3 ½ months to this point and we’ve still got over four more months until a new NBA champion is crowned. My guess is that from start to finish, this will be the most continually entertaining and intriguing season in franchise history.
If I could share something with all of you, I’d let you be a fly on the wall at times when the skills of these players may be even more stunning than what we observe in the games themselves. For example, I was standing on the court about two hours before the Pistons played at Indiana on February 4th. Assistant coach Kevin Wilson was feeding Carlos Arroyo the ball so he could work on shot after shot just inside the three-point line, about a 21 foot shot. With machine like precision and the softest touch, Arroyo calmly sank 18 in a row. It was unbelievable. He barely missed one and then hit another 7 or 8 without a miss.
I’ve watched coach Don Zierden do the same with Darko Milicic at practice and seen Darko hit 15 or 20 in a row. I find the accuracy of these players astonishing in the absence of game time pressure and being defended by another great player. Do you ever wonder why desperation heaves from half-court and beyond as a quarter ends often come so close? It’s because at non-game day practices, they have contests shooting from half-court and actually sink a fair percentage of them.