On Tap: The Detroit Pistons

 —  February 25, 2005

The Laker squad that takes the floor tonight at Staples Center will look like the one we have seen all season after the Lakers stood pat at the trading deadline. While Lakers fans calling talk shows wanted to see something — almost anything — I’ll say again I think Mitch make the right move for the long term. The Lakers need to figure out what kind of team they are going to be for the next five years before they go out and just get players. For example, adding Baron Davis is a great move if you want an up-tempo style (and he stays healthy), but if you bring back Phil next season and run the triangle having two guards who like to penetrate and create off the dribble is a terrible fit. The Lakers need a coach and team philosophy first, then add the players to fit.

While tonight’s Laker lineup may be the same one we’re used to seeing, it’s different than the one Detroit saw — and destroyed — a couple of weeks ago. First, that night the Lakers were in the second game of a back-to-back. More importantly, Kobe is back, which is not only good for the Laker offense but will really help defensively against a team that has gotten much of its offensive production this season from the guard spots — Chauncey Billups has a PER of 19.11 and Richard Hamilton has 16.83.

Also on the defensive end, the trio of Butler, Odom and Mihm need to come to play. In the last game Tayshaun Prince had 25 and Rasheed Wallace had 23, and the Pistons on the whole had 21 offensive rebounds. Also, the Lakers need to watch out for Antonio McDyess off the bench, he has a tPER of 18.54 and has a field goal percentage of 54.5% this season. The Lakers need to shut down that inside game.

Of course, with the Pistons the story is defense. This season the Pistons give up 96.2 points per 100 possessions (which is down 0.9 from the last time they played, showing that they are doing even better right now). Teams shoot just 45.7% eFG% against them, although the Lakers were nowhere near this last time, shooting 40.9% eFG%.

This is going to be a good measuring the stick for the Lakers and their three-game winning streak. Minnesota’s loss last night makes me feel a little less nervous about the potential of a Laker loss tonight. We’ll find out where we stand tonight.

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