Chicago Versus Detroit PreviewEastern Conference Second Round
#1 Detroit (53-29) vs. #5 Chicago (49-33)
Season series: Chicago, 3-1
Detroit can win if…the backcourt duo of Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton gets the best of Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich and if Detroit is able to score in the paint either off of pick and roll plays or postups by Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess or Chris Webber.
Chicago will win because…Ben Wallace is on a mission to prove that he was THE key component to Detroit's recent postseason success and he will have a monster series on the boards and defensively. Neither Chris Webber nor Flip Saunders have a history of distinguishing themselves much past the first round.
Other things to consider: Sometimes, regular season head to head games matter and sometimes they don't. I know that sounds like a cop out or an Almond Joy commercial ("Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't...") but it's true. Factors like injuries, trades or playing for the fourth time in five nights can all cloud the meaning of regular season games as harbingers of what will happen in a playoff series--but, as Golden State just showed, sometimes a team really does have another team's number, based on style and matchups. Chicago took three of the four regular season games against Detroit and the Pistons needed a big comeback in the other game to eke out a win. Yes, Chris Webber did not play in all of the games, but Chicago poses some real matchup problems for the Pistons. Also, there is no getting around the fact that Ben Wallace was arguably the most important player during the Pistons' two trips to the Finals; the four-time Defensive Player of the Year is not only no longer with Detroit but he will be playing against Detroit in this series. Chicago improved markedly this season and just swept the defending champions, while Detroit's record got worse and the Pistons basically sleepwalked against a near-comatose Orlando Magic team. Look for the Bulls to win one of the first two games in Detroit and to take the series in six games.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:30 AM