Pump Up Music: Third Eye Blind -- "Semi-Charmed Life"
The Big Picture: The Detroit Pistons have been doing something I love. They bring Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva off the bench, even though Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince have been out with injuries. Gordon has missed a few games due to injury, though, and both he and Hamilton are questionable for tonight's game.
But back to the lineup thing... John Kuester has completely flipped the energy unit idea on its head by starting those guys. By the end of the game, Villanueva is going to get starter's minutes, but by coming off the bench to start out, it deploys him in more valuable minutes. Think about it: As the clock ticks down, each second is slightly more valuable because there are that many fewer remaining in the game. The math is more complicated than that, of course, given the quarter breaks and the points situation, but, ultimately, I wouldn't be surprised if it's a more efficient rotation strategy to have the best players play their 36 minutes compressed into the final 42 rather than have them play those 36 spread over the whole 48.
Key to Victory: Don't get run down by the energy lineup that starts. Jason Maxiell has made a career out of outworking everyone on the boards, Jonas Jerebko is a fine swingman, another second round steal, Ben Wallace is trying to turn back time with everything he has, and so is Chucky Atkins. Against the Bobcats, though, and especially without Hamilton, expect the Pistons to unleash Will Bynum more than they have in recent games. He's torched Charlotte in the past.
For the Cats, it's a biggie: get Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson healthy again. If they're held out again tonight, that's okay, because it's best they come back healed for the rest of the season.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Jerebko has played the 5th most minutes of all rookies this season.