For the past few seasons, the Detroit Pistons have been a powerhouse in the NBA Eastern Conference. The Pistons have been to the conference finals six straight times, have gone to two NBA Finals appearances (2004 and 2005), and won the championship in 2004 against the All-Star loaded Los Angeles Lakers.
Since 2005, the Pistons have struggled, being incapable of reaching the finals the next four seasons, even though they kept their same core players: Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Antonio McDyess
The Pistons began the 2008-09 season strong, lead by veteran leader Billups. Only five games into the season however, general manager Joe Dumars made the blockbuster trade of the season by acquiring Allen Iverson from the Denver Nuggets for Billups.
Since the trade, the Pistons have struggled immensely on both the offensive and defensive end. With second year guard Rodney Stuckey playing at a high level, the starting lineup has become a giant jigsaw puzzle that first year head coach Michael Curry has been unable to solve.
Now starting McDyess with Wallace, Prince, Iverson, and Stuckey leading scorer Hamilton has been forced to play with the second unit and come off the bench to provide energy and hopefully consistent offense.
The Pistons (27-27) have a very short period of time to find the right combination to win games to prepare themselves for the playoffs. Even with their lackluster record, if the Pistons manage to avoid both the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, they are a potential surprise team in the Eastern Conference.
With the amount of toughness and experience coming from the main core of players on the roster and in the rotation, the Pistons are very capable of advancing to the second round to face either the reigning champion Celtics or the high-rising Cavaliers.
However, if Curry is unable to fix the limbo in his squads starting lineup, the Pistons' season may be heading even farther down hill. Dumars may have hoped that his trade would keep the Pistons at the same level of play they've had in the past, as well as make cap room for the 2010 free agent class.
But his team is playing at such a low level that by not making a move at the trade deadline that he could have further doomed his team.
Detroit has the weapons to be one of the best offensive teams in the NBA. Hamilton, Iverson, Wallace, Stuckey, and Prince are all more than capable of putting up the points to win, in addition to playing hard-nosed defense.
With a solid bench and veteran core, there is no reason why the Pistons should be playing the way they are. Leadership and an unwillingness to sacrifice personal stats for the good of the team is what is killing the Pistons chances at continuing their run to the Eastern Conference championship.
If Detroit can fix the anomaly in their offense and play that stiff defense they've been known for, they can save their season. The only question is, who will sacrifice their stats for the team's success? Twenty-eight games left until the playoffs, someone better make a decision soon, or it might be too late to salvage the season.
Iverson is known as the Answer, maybe he has the answer for the Pistons problem. Time to find out.
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