I'm still waiting to see the first DUMAAAAAAAARS!! tweet from someone in the national media.
Minnesota Timberwoves (5-17) vs. Detroit Pistons (7-16) at Target Center
As poorly as Minnesota sports teams have performed recently, it's nothing compared to what Detroit fans have had to go through in recent years. The Tigers stink. The Lions are worse. And the Pistons have gone from a fixture in the Eastern Conference Championship to a bottom-feeder in the East in no time at all. The Pistons have lost seven straight on the road and average only 87.5 points on the road, which is dead last in the NBA.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves come into tonight's game after another strong performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Sporting their new alternate black jerseys, the Wolves are looking to snap it's 6 game losing streak against the Pistons at Target Center.
Let's break down tonight's matchups:
I think they should remake classic courtroom dramas with Ben Wallace. A Time to Kill. 12 Angry Men. Philadelphia. Erin Brokovich. Who wouldn't watch those movies?
Kevin Love vs. Ben Wallace
With Darko Milicic questionable for tonight's game, Kurt Rambis is likely to go with the smaller starting lineup again tonight, especially with 6'9" Ben Wallace in the middle for the Pistons. Ben Wallace recently said that after basketball, he wants to become a criminal defense attorney. While I think Wallace could certainly intimidate opposing counsel and witnesses in court, Big Ben's days of being an imposing force on the court are coming to an end.
Given that Kevin Love does not really worry about Wallace's scoring, he will be able to drift free and pursue rebounds at will. Wallace may also have a difficult time coming out to the perimeter to guard Love, who has suddenly become one of the best shooting big men in the game.
Another 20/20 game is a virtual certainty tonight. 30/30 isn't out of the question, especially since the Wolves seem to play better when their games aren't televised.
Winner: Kevin Love
When they say that Jason Maxiell eats power forwards for lunch, they apparently mean that literally.
Michael Beasley vs. Jason Maxiell
This season, Jason Maxiell is averaging 5.3 points per game for the Pistons. At this rate, he's being paid about $1 million for every point per game he scores. For persepective, Kevin Durant gets about $400,000 for every point per game he scores. Given Ben Wallace's aforementioned offensive struggles, the front court of the Pistons is not exactly something that teams need to gameplan for on defense.
But Tim, you're not being fair. Maxiell is a great defender!
Is he? Sure, he's a tough guy. The latest in a long generation of physical Pistons players. But he's short, he's in poor shape and he does not compensate for his lost athleticism. He's often out of position, and for someone who was compared to a young Charles Barkley during his first three seasons, its disappointing to see that Maxiell has become just another starting-center in an overweight-backup-center's body.
No chance that Maxiell can stay with a guy like Beasley on the perimeter. Unless John Kuester makes an adjustment, this is a matchup that the Wolves need to exploit early and often.
Winner: Michael Beasley
"Joey, can you get me off of this terrible team? Tell John to trade me to a contender or he's outta here!"
I actually like Tayshaun Prince quite a bit. One of the most underrated members of the Redeem Team and a key part of the Pistons' contending teams from the past decade, Prince now finds himself adrift in the sea of terrible that is Detroit Pistons basketball.
Tonight, Prince will have to contend with the young rookie Wesley Johnson, who has performed well at the small forward position so far this season. Prince has the length to bother Wesley's shots, but given that he rarely attacks the basket, Johnson will be able to rest pretty easily on the other end. Prince isn't exactly an elite defender anymore, though, and Wes should be able to do some damage against the former Wildcat. We might have to start calling him Tayshaun Frog at the end of the night. (Thank you, I'm here all week. Please, tip your waitresses).
For people questioning Wes Johnson, answer this: Other than possibly John Wall, name one player who you would rather have than Wes? If you say anything other than, "no one", you're lying to yourself.
Winner: Wesley Johnson
Given that contract, they're gonna have to start calling him "Rip Off" Hamilton.
Corey Brewer vs. Richard Hamilton
Like Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton is a leftover from a better era whose game is in decline. His shooting percentages have gone down, his scoring has decreased and he's unable to make as many effective plays on offense as he once could. His midrange game continues to be one of the best, but since the Piston guards are terrible at moving the basketball, his opportunities are getting fewer and fewer.
On the other side, Corey Brewer is kind of like my golf game. After spending 6 or 7 holes hitting the ball in the sand trap, into the water, into the tall grass and basically anywhere but the hole, I'll be ready to quit and hang up the ol' putter for good. Then, on the 8th hole, I'll hit a great tee shot, sink a putt and instantly feel like I could play another 9 holes with no problem.
I love Corey Brewer and wouldn't want to see him traded. But sometimes, I wish I could compare him to Phil Mickelson's golf game, instead of my own.
Winner: Corey Brewer
Maybe you shouldn't make a 6'5" guy with no court vision and no jump shot your team's point guard. Just a thought.
Rodney Stuckey is not a point guard, no matter what Joe Dumars or anyone else from Detroit might try to tell you. He's good at drawing contact, is a solid rebounder and can handle the ball well. But he is not a good finisher, he is a poor outside shooter and he has one of the worst assist ratios at his position. While this might work on some teams, in a rotation with Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon, it seems just a tad redundant.
Luke Ridnour, meanwhile, is a prototypical point guard. It would be nice on occasion if Luke would steady the offense a bit more before launching those jumpers with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. But the guy leads our team in assists and sees the court well when he's not in "score-first" mode. When Jonny Flynn comes back, it will be fun to see a four-way tryout for next season's playing time at the point guard spot.
I'd say more about Sebastian Telfair, but we're not on speaking terms right now.
Winner: Luke Ridnour
The Detroit Pistons are famous for many things. The Bad Boys. The Malice in the Palace. Their defeat of the Lakers that led to the breakup of the greatest basketball duo in history.
That was a long time ago. Now, they will be lucky to lose to the Wolves by less than 20. The Wolves have been beating teams on a regular basis recently and once Wolves get a taste of blood, they never let up.
My prediction: Timberwolves 95 - Detroit Pistons 83
Timberwolves' Record: 23-0 (6 KOs, 17 TKOs)