As I sit here watching the second quarter of game 4 between the Magic and the Pistons, I keep hearing the New Kids' classic 'hang tough' in the back of my head. The Magic are playing the way they should be, doing a number of things that I've been waiting to see from this lineup:
-Darko is doing an admirable job catching in the high post and making the quick pass out.
-J.J Redick, while still waiting for his first bucket, is doing a good job making the right decision coming off screens. Rather than forcing up shots, he is waiting for the Pistons defenders to commit to him before passing and forcing the defense to adjust. He is doing what a good shooter should do-- keeping the defense honest.
-Trevor Ariza (my former favorite Knick) is defending the way everyone knows he can. He is using his unique combination of power, speed, and wingspan to keep Billups out of the lane. Seriously, look at this guy when his arms are spread, it looks so bizarre to see those huge things protruding from his body.
Remember how I wondered aloud whether the Pistons had the focus to maintain their play for a full series? I think we are seeing a fairly unmotivated Pistons team. They might lose this game... its time for Flip Saunders to rally his team, if he can.
EDIT: It's now three minutes later, Detroit is on a 9-0 run, and as Steve Kerr just pointed out, they just "flipped the switch." Of course, Carlos Delfino's energy doesn't hurt either.
Can we talk about how little effort Darko brings to the defensive end? Delfino just ran right by him and scored off a pass. I guess you could say it was a back door cut, but I don't think it even counts as a back door cut because Darko was never caught looking in the wrong direction, he just stood to watch Delfino as he cut to the hoop.
EDIT: Looks like that's a wrap for Detroit/Orlando. Glad to see that the Magic made a game out of it though. I expect big things from Orlando next year. For now though I wonder whether my reservations about Detroit are appropriate. Either we are dealing with a team that sometimes cares and sometimes doesn’t bring it, or Detroit has reached a level seen by Shaq’s Lakers and the Spurs, a level where a team can just ‘flip the switch,’ as we’ve already talked about. This is the level of professionalism that the Heat thought they had reached this season, only to find that their switch suddenly wasn’t working. Whether Detroit can continue its on and off energy level will be seen next round in their series with Chicago.