The Pistons are in Miami to play their last game of the regular season against the 42-39 Heat. With Detroit locked in the 8th playoff spot there isn’t much worth playing for other than to save the starters legs for the Cavaliers. Michael Curry plans on siting Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Antonio McDyess. Tayshaun will start (because of his consecutive game streak), but he’s doubtful to play more than a handful of minutes.
With this game meaning nothing standing wise, it does mean that Pistons fans will get to see more of the youngsters in tonight’s game. As for the Pistons youth, it seems as though they are taking some heat from local Pistons beat writers Chris McCosky and A. Sherrod Blakely.
“In a season full of disappointment, you probably have to rank the growth stagnation of Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson fairly high on the list.
Johnson was given the starting power-forward role coming out of camp and he couldn’t handle it. Maxiell was a main cog in the rotation last season under Flip Saunders, but has been yo-yoed in and out of Curry’s rotation this year.
The point is, the expectations on Maxiell and Johnson — in their fourth seasons — were just as high as those on Thomas and Noah. Detroit was counting on both to play key roles to lessen the reliance on the aging Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace.
And they didn’t get it done.
Maxiell has played 1,374 minutes, about 400 less than last year, averaging 5.7 points (down from 7.9) and 4.10 rebounds (down from 5.2).
He still struggles on the defensive boards and seems to have been in and out of Curry’s doghouse all season.
Johnson has played a career-high 889 minutes, averaging 3.5 points and 3.8 rebounds — almost exactly his career numbers.
He went from starting to the last man off the bench, other than rookie Walter Sharpe. Not exactly what president Joe Dumars envisioned when he gave him an $11 million extension two years ago.”
“It’s difficult for players to put into words how a team that has been so dominant in the East for years could become a team that squeaks into the playoffs.
Chalking it up to the changes this season is only part of the problem.
The bigger issue has to do with talent.
All those years of finishing near the top of the Eastern Conference also meant being near the bottom of the NBA draft.
Youngsters such as Amir Johnson, Jason Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey are all better players than they were on draft night. But they would have to be much better much faster to keep Detroit as a perennial title contender.
That hasn’t happened.
Because of that, the Pistons are where they are — a playoff team, barely.”
Not fun to hear when your Pistons team is heading into the most uncertain playoff situation they have been in for years.
Tip off is at 8:00 PM and will be locally broadcast on FSN Detroit. If you can’t catch the game on TV, you can listen to the game over on 1130 AM WDFN or follow through your computer at NBA.com.