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Tonight's Game: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic

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Ed. note: Apologies for the long preview today. Few teams interest me more than the Pistons, so I might have gotten carried away. - BQR

UPDATE: Richard Hamilton will re-join the Pistons' starting lineup tonight, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Allen Iverson, who is questionable with a sore back, will come off the bench if he plays at all. (Ht: BDL). Hamilton, like Iverson, is a Magic-killer. Check out his games against the Magic since joining the Pistons. Pay special attention to his shooting percentages, in addition to his scoring. Ridiculous.

UPDATE 2: Mickael Pietrus will be available for Orlando tonight, reports Kyle Hightower. Pietrus has missed Orlando's last three games. Whatever happens, I don't want him to start. Courtney Lee is tearing it up, and there's no reason to bench him.

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Detroit Pistons main logo
@
Orlando Magic main logo
27-29 42-15
February 27th, 2009
Amway Arena
7:00 PM
FSN Florida / ESPN
Probable starters:
Rodney Stuckey PG Rafer Alston
Richard Hamilton SG Courtney Lee
Tayshaun Prince SF Hedo Turkoglu
Antonio McDyess PF Rashard Lewis
Rasheed Wallace C Dwight Howard
Previous Meetings:
December 29th: Pistons 88, Magic 82

It's no secret that the Detroit Pistons head into tonight's game against the Orlando Magic in a prolonged slump. Rasheed Wallace's meltdown during Wednesday's game against New Orleans brought the Pistons' struggles to the forefront, although the folks at Empty the Bench were all over it earlier this week. Detroit has lost its last 8 games by a total of 63 points, but even before this losing streak it had a negative point differential. Matt Watson of NBA FanHouse (and Detroit Bad Boys) says it's the end of an era. Even after the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson's Expiring Contract--let's be clear, they acquired him for financial reasons--I figured they'd still be competitive, and probably hang onto the East's fourth seed. Now, they're fighting for their playoff lives with the likes of Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago, New Jersey, and New York. Yeah, it's been a rough year. At least they still have Michael Curry's suits to make fun of. (via DBB)

Make the jump to read the rest of today's game preview.

Although Wallace will not face a suspension from the league for his tirade, the team might choose to make him sit out tonight. After throwing a towel into the stands, he threw another at Curry. One would think Pistons head honcho Joe Dumars wouldn't stand for that. Of course, Dumars also doesn't stand for losing, and Wallace's potential absence dramatically increases the odds of that occurrence. Few players in this league defend Magic star center Dwight Howard better than 'Sheed, because he's physical enough to muscle Dwight out of his comfort zone, intelligent enough to anticipate Dwight's post movements, and tenured enough to get away with some poking, prodding, and swatting down low. That's fine. The Pistons' overall defense of late has been astonishingly bad. From John Schuhmann of NBA.com:

Their defensive rating over the last 21 games (112.4) is at the level the Clippers have been this season.

Ouch. The Magic need to seize the opportunity to light up the scoreboard against a volatile opponent tonight. The last time they played Detroit, they got suckered into playing at a snail's pace, and could not find many open looks from the perimeter. The latter point may hold true tonight, as Detroit has the personnel to defend Howard one-on-one, and thus stay at home with the Magic's shooters. Hedo Turkoglu is going to have trouble getting past Tayshaun Prince, which makes Rashard Lewis that much more important. Since returning from the All-Star break, Lewis' shooting has taken a bit of a hit. His effective field goal percentage is 50%, down from 54.3% before the break. That may not seem like a lot, and maybe I'm making too much of that drop, but among similarly skilled players, that's roughly the difference between Mehmet Okur and Marvin Williams. I'd also like to see the sizzling (67.2 eFG% in his last 3 games) Courtney Lee take it to longtime Magic-killer Allen Iverson. And maybe, just maybe, new point guard Rafer Alston can teach the struggling Rodney Stuckey a thing or two.

Tip's at 7 on ESPN or FSN Florida. ESPN's RV thinger will be there before the game, so if you're near Amway Arena, it might be worth checking out. Go Magic.

Although Wallace will not face a suspension from the league for his tirade, the team might choose to make him sit out tonight. After throwing a towel into the stands, he threw another at Curry. One would think Pistons head honcho Joe Dumars wouldn't stand for that. Of course, Dumars also doesn't stand for losing, and Wallace's potential absence dramatically increases the odds of that occurrence. Few players in this league defend Magic star center Dwight Howard better than 'Sheed, because he's physical enough to muscle Dwight out of his comfort zone, intelligent enough to anticipate Dwight's post movements, and tenured enough to get away with some poking, prodding, and swatting down low. That's fine. The Pistons' overall defense of late has been astonishingly bad. From John Schuhmann of NBA.com:

Their defensive rating over the last 21 games (112.4) is at the level the Clippers have been this season.

Ouch. The Magic need to seize the opportunity to light up the scoreboard against a volatile opponent tonight. The last time they played Detroit, they got suckered into playing at a snail's pace, and could not find many open looks from the perimeter. The latter point may hold true tonight, as Detroit has the personnel to defend Howard one-on-one, and thus stay at home with the Magic's shooters. Hedo Turkoglu is going to have trouble getting past Tayshaun Prince, which makes Rashard Lewis that much more important. Since returning from the All-Star break, Lewis' shooting has taken a bit of a hit. His effective field goal percentage is 50%, down from 54.3% before the break. That may not seem like a lot, and maybe I'm making too much of that drop, but among similarly skilled players, that's roughly the difference between Mehmet Okur and Marvin Williams. I'd also like to see the sizzling (67.2 eFG% in his last 3 games) Courtney Lee take it to longtime Magic-killer Allen Iverson. And maybe, just maybe, new point guard Rafer Alston can teach the struggling Rodney Stuckey a thing or two.

Tip's at 7 on ESPN or FSN Florida. ESPN's RV thinger will be there before the game, so if you're near Amway Arena, it might be worth checking out. Go Magic.