Friday, April 15, 2016

TWTW's Pistons v. Cavaliers Preview


Danville, Kentucky -- There's no better feeling than picking up your first pay stub at a new job. The nineties were not kind to me. NAFTA battered and bruised me -- I was more crestfallen and defeated than Grant Hill's ankles. In 2005, after a few years of aimlessly bouncing around dead-end jobs, I had a gut feeling that the housing market was the place to be. I got myself an online degree in real estate, and hit the mean streets of Danville to sell houses, eager like I was fired from a cannon. It was beautiful, folks. And there was no feeling more rewarding than spending my hard-earned wages on the best appetizers and bourbon a Danville man can buy. The most important part of my successful real estate venture was that it proved hard work pays off. When faced with unemployment and bankruptcy, I did what all true Americans do: I went back to work.

The Detroit Pistons of 2000-2009 were a team that was all about going to work. They didn't have the flash or the star power of teams like Kobe's Lakers, but they wore opponents down with hard-nosed defense and their grinder mentality. Seven years ago, an aging Pistons team's reign of dominance came to an end when King James unceremoniously dethroned them in the first round of the playoffs. After many seasons of irrelevance, the Pistons are finally back in the playoffs. Seven years later, LeBron must suppress an upstart young Pistons team if he hopes to advance out of the Eastern Conference and vie for one more rematch vs. the San Antonio Spurs or nerd-darlings Golden State Warriors.

Lots of folks these days love to rave about the quality of the Western Conference while disparaging the East. The Western Conference may have a better TS%, shiner PER numbers, more VORP, and Steph Curry, but for all their glitz and glamour, they lack the tenacious grit of the East. Folks, it's good to see two blue collar towns like Cleveland and Detroit squaring off in the playoffs. Here are the key factors that will determine the winner of the series:

MOMENTUM

Folks, the Pistons have all the momentum in this match-up. Fresh off a 112-110 victory over the Cavaliers in the last game of the regular season, they've already set the tone for the series. In addition, the Pistons won the season series 3-1. The city of Detroit is united behind the Pistons, thrilled to see their team back in contention. The city of Cleveland is not united behind the Cavaliers: folks from the mistake on the lake are more preoccupied with the looming threat of political violence as the 2016 Republican National Convention nears. The Cavaliers have limped into the playoffs, reeling from humiliating losses to the Brooklyn Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, and pitiful Chicago Bulls recently. Not to mention, the team is in disarray: at the moment when LeBron needs to lead the team, he won't even follow the Cavaliers on twitter. LeBron wants OUT of Cleveland again, which may put the Pistons back IN to the Conference Semi-Finals. Advantage: Pistons.

COACHING



This first round match-up also presents an intriguing coaching showdown: the veteran Stan Van Gundy versus the unproven Tyronn Lue. SVG has the Pistons united around a single purpose: winning. In Cleveland's Game of Thrones, Lue is just King James' puppet. SVG has tons of playoff experience and once coached the Orlando Magic to the NBA finals; what Lue knows about coaching in the playoffs, SVG could fit into his eyes with little to no discomfort. Advantage: Pistons.

POINT GUARD



Kyrie Irving is the most overrated thing to come out of Cleveland since the Indians. He cares more about his scoring numbers than making his teammates better. Meanwhile, Reggie Jackson is one of the game's clutchest. Advantage: Pistons.

PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE

While the Pistons have more heart than the quarreling, in-fighting Cavs, they are greener in the gills. They could be mentally unprepared for the challenge that awaits. LeBron alone has played more minutes in the playoffs than the entire Pistons roster. The Pistons might not be ready for the spotlight. Advantage: Cavaliers. 

BENCH

The Pistons bench is depleted like my finances after a trip to the Casino. There will be no cavalry or reinforcements off the bench: just the rotting corpse of Steve Blake. Advantage: Cavaliers.

FINAL PREDICTION

The Pistons have a lot going in their favor. They're young, scrappy, and hungry. Andre Drummond vacuums up rebounds like I vacuum up mini corn dogs at Buffalo Wild Wings.


Yet, the Cavaliers have rings. They also have LeBron James, who in my opinion, is still the game's premier talent -- jacking up threes doesn't impress me, Steph. Kevin Love is a great player, though these days he seems to care more about making bad State Farm commercials than refining his game. I predict the Cavaliers will win in 5 games.

Even in defeat, 2016 is a victory for the Pistons. They have climbed the mountain. They have righted the ship. They have returned to the playoffs. They have gone back to work.

My return to work was short-lived. My time in the real-estate sector was great while it lasted, but like my time at the GM plant and my time on the oil rigs, it wasn't meant to last. Intrusive government regulation and the welfare state eventually brought us the 2008 housing market collapse and the Obama presidency. But with the Obama presidency in its waning days, things are looking up again in America. For the Pistons and millions of other job-seeking Americans across this country, it's time to go to work.