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How the Other Side Thinks: DBB's Matt Watson

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Welcome back for another round of "How the Other Side Thinks."  This week, we're rolling out our Eastern Conference Finals edition with help from Matt Watson.  The likelihood is far greater than not that if you've been surfing the blogosphere over the last couple of years, you've run across Matt's work.  He runs the popular (and quite compelling) Detroit Bad Boys blog and has also had his work published in a myriad of other locations.  Recently, we got a chance to chat about all things Pistons and Celtics, and Matt even showed some semi-love tempered with harsh words for our boy James Posey (the second Other Sider to do so this season).  Though we remain at odds for the rest of this series, I can't deny that Matt had some excellent insights for us. Without further ado, away we go...

[UPDATE: Matt and I decided to go 'home-and-home' with this feature.  You can find my answers to his questions here.]

SW: After a stunning home loss on Saturday, the Pistons came out with a dominant performance (belied by a too-close score for most of the evening) in Game 4 to tie up this series and ruin the end of my Memorial Day weekend.  What was the biggest key to the turn-around and victory?

MW: Antonio McDyess was simply amazing on Monday, but the defense by the team as a whole was why the Pistons won. Detroit was extremely physical the entire night and never relented, even when the refs made it clear they were going to call a close game. Anytime you keep the Big 3 under wraps and hold the Celtics as a whole to 31 percent shooting, you're doing something right, regardless of what the refs think.

SW:  This Pistons team is an experienced bunch in the postseason, and the squad has long since shown it can win on the road.  How confident are you about the Pistons' prospects going into Game 5?  What's the most important thing this team needs to do to secure a victory?

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All of Steve's daily posts can be found in the CelticsBlog: NBA blog.  Check him out!   
MW: I predicted "Detroit in six" before the start of the series, and I'm sticking with it, though I admit I may have wavered for a few minutes after Game 3. Chauncey Billups isn't the same player he was before he hurt his hamstring, but he showed me in Game 4 that he can still be effective. Granted, he still hasn't found his shot, but I believe Flip Saunders when he says that's a matter of timing as much as it is injury. Sooner or later, that timing will come back. If just a couple of his early misses in Game 4 had dropped, that game wouldn't have been nearly as close for as long as it was.  
SW:  Which Piston has been the most pleasant surprise for you throughout this series?  The biggest disappointment?  Why?
MW:  McDyess has been a rock the entire series, which is awesome to see considering he frequently defers to his teammates on the court. With guys like Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince exerting so much energy on the defensive end trying to contain Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, McDyess has carried the offensive load for long stretches, not to mention come up with clutch rebound after clutch rebound.
 
Billups has been a disappointment (and doesn't exactly have a great track record in the Conference Finals the last couple of years), but he gets a pass for his health. Prince has faded a bit after being perhaps the team's MVP of the first couple of rounds, but his offense usually takes a hit whenever he's matched up against a marquee guy on the other end, and considering his worst games have coincided with Pierce's worst games, it's hard to complain.

If I had to single someone out, I guess I'd say Jason Maxiell could be more consistent, but for the most part (Billups' health excluded) the series has gone down like I figured it would. These teams are pretty evenly matched, so when a guy doesn't perform, it's just as often a credit to the other team playing well than him doing something wrong.
SW:  The question that truly scares Celts fans: Just how good is Rodney Stuckey?  And how good is he going to be?
MW:  Let's put it this way: if Billups were suddenly ruled out for the rest of the series, I still think the Pistons would take the Celtics to seven games. The kid can get to the rim with anyone, and he's strong enough to draw contact and still finish. He still has work to do in terms of running a team in addition to looking for his shot, but I won't be surprised at all if he ends up being the best guard taken in the 2007 draft, or at least the second-best if Kevin Durant stays at the two. He probably won't ever start an All-Star game, but I could see him making a few teams down the road.
SW:  The Pistons have certainly shown some cracks in the façade throughout the playoffs and specifically this Eastern Conference Finals.  What weakness should the Celtics be looking to exploit in order to win both Game 5 and this series?
MW:  Quit leaving McDyess open, for one. Rasheed is so hot and cold on offense that I think the Celtics could afford to pay more attention to McDyess and give Rasheed more room, at least when he strays from the paint. Starting with Game 3 of the Orlando series, Rasheed is 3-for-27 (.111) from three-point land. That's such a huge part of his offense and he's just been brutal.
SW: On the other hand, the Pistons didn't win 59 games and get to this point by accident. What is this team's single biggest strength?
MW: I know Boston has caught Ubuntu fever this season, but the Pistons built their entire franchise around that "team first" philosophy, even if they didn't have a trendy name to describe it. Since the start of the playoffs, each of the five starters have taken a turn leading the team in scoring. If someone has an off game, someone else is almost always there to pick up the slack, and it's not all that rare for everybody to get going at the same time. And when that happens, well, five > three.
SW: Always need a question to get the fan bases riled up, but I'm not even going to push a Maxiell-or-Baby question.  The bodies of work aren't close right now.  So instead, which stopper off the bench would you rather have: Lindsey Hunter or James Posey?
MW: I'll be honest: I'm not much of a James Posey fan. He's not quite "Bruce Bowen" dirty, but he's close. That said, he'd be a hell of a backup for Tayshaun Prince. I'd take him, but I wouldn't let him bring that stupid two-tone mouthpiece.
SW:  Let's play some quick word association – just the first word, phrase or thought that comes to mind:
Rip Hamilton non-stop
 
Ray Allen: ankles

Dick Bavetta: better than most refs

Mason: trend-setter (for better or worse)

Rasheed Wallace: misunderstood
 
David Stern: not nearly as conniving as everyone thinks 
 
Kendrick Perkins: no hands 

Palace of Auburn Hills: not as loud as it used to be
SW: Got a score prediction for tonight's game?
MW: 92-85, Pistons. 
We could do certainly do without that last one.  But beyond that, much thanks to Matt for coming on and dropping the knowledge.  Good luck tonight and through the rest of the series.  Go green!