What better way for the Detroit Pistons to open their NBA season than in Memphis, where they could look to the other bench and see last year's teammate, Allen Iverson, now employed by the Grizzlies. Many in the Detroit area blame Iverson for some of the problems that the Pistons suffered after the trade for Chauncey Billups - one that was largely beneficial to Denver.
The problem, however, was with former Detroit coach Michael Curry, who was fired by GM Joe Dumars in June. New coach John Kuester, a Dean Smith disciple, guided Detroit to a 96-74 win in Memphis in his first game as an NBA head coach. The game was supposed to be closer, according to the experts, but the Pistons easily covered the betting line of minus-2.
The Pistons made some notable offseason changes. Perhaps the one that will make the biggest impact is Ben Gordon, signed as a shooting guard that (unlike Iverson) is more than willing to come off the bench in order to make plays. Starter Richard Hamilton and Gordon combined for 47 (nearly half) of the Detroit points in the opener and proved that it's possible for the two high-scoring guards to co-exist.
Hamilton did tweak his right ankle late in the game, but the x-rays were negative.
Give Dumars a lot of credit - he knew there were two guys in free agency that he wanted and he went after them immediately. Milwaukee let Charlie Villanueva walk and he could be a key cog if he's healthy in Detroit. And the aforementioned Gordon is a high-impact scorer, capable of a big night whenever he steps foot in the gym.
Sure, the frontcourt is thin and the defense is still expected to struggle (Memphis game aside) - but right now, things might be looking up.
The schedule early in the season is conducive for the Pistons to be successful. They open the home portion of the schedule Friday against Oklahoma City before traveling to Milwaukee on Saturday night where they are currently a +2.5 points underdog at this online sportsbook which has unique NBA prospective betting lines where you can bet on any NBA game two weeks in advance! A home game against Orlando is followed by a trip to Toronto next Tuesday and Wednesday. That's only one playoff team on the schedule in the first week of the season. The potential for a 4-1 start (or better?) is there.