UPDATE 3: Matt Watson of AOL FanHouse has been in the locker rooms tonight and reports, via Twitter, that Rashard Lewis is in and Richard Hamilton is out. Amir Johnson will start in Hamilton's place for Detroit.
|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|December 29th, 2008|
|The Palace of Auburn Hills|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Rodney Stuckey|
|Keith Bogans||SG||Allen Iverson|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Tayshaun Prince|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Amir Johnson|
|Dwight Howard||C||Rasheed Wallace|
Quick injury notes: Richard Hamilton has a strained groin and is listed as day-to-day. UPDATE: If he can't go tonight, Kwame Brown will start at center, moving Rasheed Wallace to power forward and Tayshaun Prince at small forward, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel.
expect Amir Johnson to start at power forward, which would shift Tayshaun Prince to his more natural small forward position. Also, Rashard Lewis is a game-time decision due to a bone bruise in his left ankle. He sat out today's shootaround and wants to play, telling Schmitz, "I'm going to play if I have to drag my leg out there tonight."
UPDATE 2: Moments ago during a pre-game radio interview, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said the chances of Rashard Lewis' playing tonight were "50/50".
That Allen-Iverson-for-Chauncey-Billups trade hasn't done much good in Detroit. Kevin Sawyer breaks down the myriad reasons why at Detroit Bad Boys. Here's what should make Magic fans happy: Allen Iverson can't guard anyone. I don't think anyone seriously expected him to defend as well as Billups, but I also don't think anyone thought he'd be this bad--seriously, read the post--either.
Some things haven't changed, though. The Pistons still are quite, um, demonstrative with the officials. They're earning technical fouls at an alarming rate. Tayshaun Prince wishes they'd pipe-down. (So does everyone else, Tayshaun. Believe me.) And their last win, 87-76 over Milwaukee on Saturday night, was vintage 2000s Pistons style. Detroit controlled the tempo, with 86 possessions; played excellent defense overall, forcing the Bucks to shoot 30.4% from the field and 8.3% from beyond the arc; and exceptional defense on the opponent's star player, holding Michael Redd to 4 points on 2-of-11 shooting. I still doubt that a Pistons team with Iverson can do a ton of damage in the playoffs--the value of intangibles is overstated, but it's nonetheless hard to argue that the team won't miss Billups' leadership--but they're certainly dangerous. Rasheed Wallace can limit Dwight Howard; ditto Prince with Hedo Turkoglu. If Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis can have their way with Rodney Stuckey and Amir Johnson, the Magic stand a fighting chance.
The Magic will have a very tough time keeping Stuckey, whom the Pistons drafted with the Magic's pick in 2007, which they sent to Detroit in 2006 to acquire Carlos Arroyo and Darko Milicic, out of the lane. He's a solid finisher at the rim, but more dangerously, draws a ton of fouls. Dwight Howard is going to need to keep his hands to himself tonight, lest he get in foul trouble. Then again, given how well Marcin Gortat played against Detroit in the playoffs--I will never ever forget his drilling a turnaround jumper over a stunned Rasheed Wallace in the otherwise dismal Game 4--maybe his getting more burn wouldn't be so bad after all.
Tip's at 7:30 on Sun Sports. Game's in Detroit. Let's make it 8 straight wins.