With about one week left in the NBA season, itâ€™s worth noting that the Detroit Pistons have managed to win 50 or more games in six straight seasons. In those six seasons the teams best record was in 2005-06 when they earned 64 wins and garnered 18 loses. They also scored an average of 96.8 PPG. This yearâ€™s fiftieth win occurred in New York, when the Pistons beat the Knicks 91- 83. If the pistons win tonight against the Orlando Magic, they will secure the best record in the Eastern Conference and home court advantage for the conference playoffs.
Thatâ€™s important because nowhere is the home court advantage more pronounced than in the NBA. Why? Consider the proximity of the fans to the action. In the NBA, teams are surrounded by 12 to 16 thousand fans who sit up close and personal. The noise inside the venues is deafening and, unlike in the NHL, there are no boards or glass separating and protecting the players from the rabble.
Hometown rabble can be extremely helpful. I t can be very disruptive to opponents. And it may even put some pressure on those well-trained officials. In no other sport is there such intimacy.
This season Detroit has averaged 96.1 PPG and kept opponents to 91.8 PPG. Shooting guard Richard Hamilton leads the club in points with 20.0 per game. His three-point accuracy is down from .458 last season to .325 this season.
All-important point guard Chauncey Billups, who has been hurt off and on, has a team high 7.2 APG and has added 17.2 PPG. Billups, who is a definitive playmaker, missed a few games recently due to a sore groin and Hamilton missed one because of a sore foot. This time of year nagging injuries can take their toll, especially as a team goes deep into the arduous NBA post-season.
Inside, power forward Rasheed Wallace has averaged 7.5 rebounds per game while contributing 15.5 PPG. Wallace has accumulated 18 technical fouls this season and numerous suspensions. He must keep his calm in order to help his team. Swingman Chris Webber, from the 76ers, has been a welcome addition during this season. But heâ€™s had injury problems. Still, his average of 7.0 RPG is an important stat.
One other thing to considerâ€”Wallace versus head coach Flip Saunders. This is an ongoing battle that has turned from discord to hate. Discord can be disastrous to any team, especially that between coach and player since sides are often drawn between players who take one side or the other.
Injuries, discord and undisciplined playâ€”50 wins is a great accomplishment but it does not guarantee a NBA title. It doesnâ€™t even translate into home court advantage this season. 51 will do that.