Monday, April 23, 2007

Pistons vs. Magic: Game 2 Recap

In another game completely controlled by Detroit, the Pistons defeated the Magic 98-90 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. Orlando got no closer than 5 points behind in the second half as Detroit seemed to toy with the Magic, keeping them in the game but never in control. Some observations:
  • The Pistons' D completely shut down Dwight Howard, who finished the game with only 8 points and 11 boards (only 4 offensive) on 3-9 shooting. Howard, who attempted 11 free throws in game 1, only took 3 in game 2. He seemed frustrated by the tight defense of Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess, picking up a couple offensive fouls and rarely looking to attack the basket like he did in game 1. His only offensive success seemed to come against Chris Webber, who was beaten repeatedly by the Magic's big men this game. Look for Detroit to keep guarding Howard with Sheed and Dyess, and let Webber stay with offensively-challenged forward Tony Battie.
  • Orlando is going to have a tough time matching up with Detroit's starters the rest of the series. The Magic tried to make up for their matchup problems in the backcourt by going to a zone defense at times, but the Pistons had great success passing against or just shooting over their 2-3 D. This forced Orlando to go back to a man-to-man defense late, and Chauncey Billups was able to blow right by Jameer Nelson with a minute left for an and-1 layup to put Detroit up 9 and ice the game. Nelson has been abused by both Chauncey and Rip Hamilton in the first two games, and Orlando can't seem to find a place to hide the diminutive PG on D. Combine his woeful defense with his offensive struggles (shooting 3-12 tonight for only 9 points and 3 assists) and we'll see how long the Magic stick with him at point guard.
  • Detroit seems to be able to score at will, but only when they play like they're interested in the game. There were too many stretches where the Pistons didn't move the ball and took deep, contested jumpers or forced shots in the post. If Detroit can play like they care for 48 minutes, they should be able to blow out the Magic and rest their starters for round 2. As they're playing right now, Detroit has had to keep their starters in at the end of the first two games. Billups and Hamilton each played 42+ minutes tonight, and if they keep having to do that every night they may wear down by the end of the playoffs, when Detroit is facing an opponent that will actually give them a challenge.
  • Someone has got to get in Hedo Turkoglu's face on defense. He started the night on a 7-7 tear, and finished with 22 points on 10-14 shooting. He was never forced to drive to the basket, didn't even attempt a free throw on the night, and was allowed to shoot mostly uncontested jumpers all game.
  • TNT showed a montage of Grant Hill playing for Detroit during the second quarter, and I'll only say this: those teal jerseys never happened. NEVER.

Rare photographic evidence of Dwight Howard trying to score. Note who's guarding him.

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