Charlotte Bobcats at Detroit Pistons preview -- Game 5

The Big Picture: The Detroit Pistons under Joe Dumars have been a swirl of intrigue. They're the only team in the modern NBA to have ever won a championship without a Hall of Fame caliber player (2003), and they seem to have tried to re-create that magical run ever since. Of course, they had four All-Stars and one more rising star in the starting lineup, but it's easier to tell yourself the championship was the result of creating a situation with great coaching, chemistry, cohesion, and roster depth, as opposed to admitting that it took finding four All-Star talents(!) who got along, and then they hit their stride at just the right time.

Signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva -- in a twisted sense -- follows the logic that it's better to sign multiple very good players for a lot of money than to sign one transcendent player for a lot of money, which is only true if you've already got a transcendent player, which the Pistons didn't. Shockingly, two guys who are probably best used in a bench role, or alongside defensive specialists, are turning out to be epic wastes of money for a team that won't contend for a championship while those two guys are both around.

Add in that Detroit is 0-5 and in complete freefall, with the players turning on coach John Kuester, and even though this is a road game, the Bobcats should probably be favored in this one.

For their part, coming off a tough win in New Jersey, the Cats have a series of questions to answer, themselves. Will Gerald Wallace have a major impact, coming off a game in which he turned his ankle? Will Stephen Jackson or Tyrus Thomas ever see a shot he doesn't like? Was Boris Diaw's solid game on Wednesday augur good things, or was it a fluke? Can D.J. Augustin continue on the path to fulfilling his destiny to be the next Damon Stoudamire?

Musical Interlude: Blink 182 -- "The Rock Show"



Key to Victory: The Bobcats have several advantages they can press, but the primary one is Stephen Jackson. He's simply so much bigger than Gordon, and Richard Hamilton is just a shell of his former self, that he should be able to defend both guys and toy with them on offense. Our main soft spot will probably be defending Villanueva, because I don't think Diaw is quite quick enough to stick with him out to the perimeter, and Charlie does have a knack for playing surprisingly tough post offense when he wants. Tyrus, please?

Detail That May Interest .08% of You: The Palace at Auburn Hills is tied with Arco Arena in Sacramento for third-oldest NBA arena, behind Madison Square Garden and the Oakland Coliseum arena.

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