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Thread: LLTP: Pistons Mailbag Playoff Edition 5.8.08

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    DADZIG's Avatar
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    LLTP: Pistons Mailbag Playoff Edition 5.8.08

    Brace yourselves for this one.



    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Cat (Springport, Mich.): Keith, say something encouraging to me this morning to get me out of my “it’s over” mood. I know the Pistons have what it takes to win even without our No. 1, but we cannot have another game like last night

    Langlois: Over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Fill yourself with the fighting spirit of Bluto on this one, Cat. I’m not trying to patronize anyone here – if Chauncey Billups can’t play for the rest of this series, and I think with a hamstring injury you have to allow for that possibility, that makes it a much more even fight. The difficulty Orlando had in limiting Billups’ impact was probably the biggest edge the Pistons had over Orlando. But Rodney Stuckey presents Orlando with many of the same problems Billups does – he’s a load for their guards to handle. The Magic tried to limit Jameer Nelson’s exposure to him, guarding Stuckey with physical shooting guard Keith Bogans, but that meant guarding Rip Hamilton with Keyon Dooling or Nelson. Flip Saunders will come up with something in the next two days to exploit the advantages he has. And the worst that can happen is the Pistons come back to The Palace even with a best two-of-three scenario, just as they did against Philadelphia. If you’re worried about what that might mean to the next round, consider: Even if the Pistons are pushed to Game 7 by Orlando, they would get two full days off before opening the conference finals, in all likelihood, because a Boston-Cleveland Game 7 isn’t scheduled until May 19, one day after the scheduled Game 7 of Detroit-Orlando.


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    Ron (Silver Spring, Md.): What is the status of Chauncey Billups for Game 4 on Saturday?

    Langlois: I’m guessing there won’t be a final word on that until about 3:30 p.m. Saturday when teams are required to submit their active list for the game. They’ll be giving him treatment continuously up until then, hoping to have him available even if on a limited basis. My best guess would be that they’ll err on the side of caution and hold him out unless he’s close to 100 percent. Even if there wasn’t the risk of further injuring the hamstring, a half-speed Billups isn’t going to do for the Pistons what a full-speed Rodney Stuckey and Juan Dixon or Lindsey Hunter could.


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    Aldi (Detroit): Why is Reggie Miller doing TV analysis for Pistons games when he clearly is not a fan of the Pistons. All he does is put them down.

    Langlois: Reggie’s assigned by TNT regardless of what teams are playing. The battles the Pistons had with Indiana, both early in Miller’s career with Chuck Daly’s Bad Boys and late when the Pistons again won a championship, aside, I think he’s always been pretty respectful of them. I don’t sense any anti-Pistons sentiment from Miller, who’s always been an extremely bright and personable guy. I’m sure there are Orlando fans wondering what Reggie Miller has against their team, too.


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    Paul (Zeeland): My son asked the other day why some players are listed taller than they really are. Is there a system the NBA follows or is it up to the players to submit their heights? Also, I want to know when players are put on the inactive list, can they be activated at any time?

    Langlois: Take listed heights with a grain of salt. Generally, players who are considered undersized for their positions add 2 inches or so to their listed height and some big men have an aversion to being listed as 7-footers so ask the team to list them at 6-foot-11. I don’t think Rodney Stuckey is a full 6-foot-5, but when the Pistons played Minnesota he towered over Randy Foye, listed at 6-foot-4. My guess is Foye is really about 6-1 or 6-2 and Stuckey about 6-4. Charles Barkley was listed at 6-6 in his day but was probably about 6-4. Jason Maxiell is listed at 6-7 … probably not. But Kevin Garnett is listed at 6-11 and most people think he’s 7-1. I think Rasheed Wallace is probably a legit 7-footer. When the Pistons went to get their official measurements to start training camp this year, the device they use to measure players’ heights was broken, so they just went with last year’s heights or what the rookies gave them. As for the inactive list, teams must submit a list of 12, from the roster of up to 15, 90 minutes before tipoff. That’s a chance from a few years ago, when there was a 12-man roster and an “injured list” that required teams to concoct phantom injuries – “back spasms” was a particular favorite – to make any roster shuffles. The active list can change from game to game, during the regular season and the playoffs both.


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    Jody (Canton, Mich.): Our assist total of 12 in Game 3 needs to be better. A few more passes and some of the bad shots we are taking and missing might translate into points. And the Magic shot 11 of 24 from the 3-point line. That has hurt us in all three games. I know they are the best, but we can defend better than that, can’t we?

    Langlois: The assist total is going to take a hit when your All-Star point guard goes down four minutes into the game, Jody. I thought Rip Hamilton tried to take too much onto his shoulders and Rasheed Wallace looked for the knockout 3-pointer a little too often as a response to losing Billups. As for the 3-pointers, it didn’t hurt too much in Game 1 when Orlando went 2 for 15 or in the fourth quarter of Game 2 when the Magic went 1 of 9. The Pistons were No. 2 in the league this season in defending the 3-point shot, but Orlando made more than anybody – so there will be stretches during this series when one side or the other dominates, but you’d expect that over seven games the Magic will shoot it a little worse than they did during the regular season but the Pistons will yield a higher percentage than they did against the NBA at large.


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    Jerry (Canton, Mich.): After seeing the Celtics go to seven games with Atlanta and almost losing to Cleveland when LeBron didn’t even show up in Game 1, I can’t help but wonder are the Hawks and Cavs really that good or is Boston just really overrated?

    Langlois: It was surprising that Boston played without much poise in losing three tight games on the road against Atlanta. It wasn’t terribly surprising that Cleveland found a way to make Game 1 close. The Cavs aren’t a pretty team but they are built for playoff success – a physical frontline that defends and rebounds, and a guy who can win games by himself in the last five minutes. The Celtics are finding out what the Pistons have learned over the last five or six years – the playoffs are significantly different than the regular season. That said, the only thing that really matters is figuring out how to survive each opponent. It doesn’t matter if you sweep with four routs or go seven and win four squeakers – win and advance, then figure out the next opponent. If the Pistons wind up playing Boston in the conference finals, they won’t look at the Celtics as being any less formidable because the Celts struggled in the first two rounds.


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    Ric (Porter Ranch, Calif.): From your previous blog, Rashard Lewis is the anti-Maxiell, but so far he has been the X-factor in this series. When Afflalo or Herrmann guard him, he’s smart enough to take it to the basket or shoot over them due to his height advantage. Could Amir Johnson be the missing link? Doesn’t he have the speed to stop Lewis off the dribble and contest his 3-point shot?

    Langlois: If Afflalo’s guarded Lewis, I’ve missed it. Maybe he got caught against him in transition or off a pick and roll. Herrmann is a legitimate option against Lewis. He’s a tough cover for Rasheed Wallace, one of the most versatile defensive big men in the league, and part of the reason Wallace found himself in foul trouble in Game 3. You’re right that Johnson has the physical tools for the matchup, but guarding on the perimeter is something Amir just hasn’t done. And the playoffs is a tough place to learn. Let me anticipate reader response to that one: “So why didn’t Flip give Amir more time against players like Lewis during the regular season so he’d be ready?” Well, there aren’t more than a handful of 6-foot-10 guys in the league like Lewis – really, there’s hardly anybody that big who shoots the three that well and that often and is an exclusively perimeter player – so you really only learn to guard Lewis by guarding Lewis. And now isn’t the time to practice unless it’s a last resort.


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    Josh (Lansing): Why isn’t Flip playing Hunter or Dixon but is playing Stuckey even though he turns the ball over. He does have his moments, but then he turns around and makes mistakes. I would like to see Hunter and Dixon get a chance.

    Langlois: Stuckey gives them the best chance to win, period. He’s been better than solid defensively and his strength and size give him advantages over opposing point guards he can exploit. Stuckey averaged one turnover every 13.8 minutes this season, Dixon one every 12.3 minutes and Hunter one every 16.5, though Hunter’s sample size is so small as to be relatively insignificant. Hunter also was a .344 shooter this season and when the Pistons used him early in the Philadelphia series, the offense didn’t function very smoothly. That said, if Billups can’t play Saturday or beyond, one of those two guys is not just going to be active, but probably will find himself playing a pretty important role.


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    Paul (Essexville, Mich.): One final thing about the end of the third quarter clock on TNT’s broadcasters saying the person running the clock was not employed by the Pistons but was from Minnesota. So unless he’s Flip’s best friend from his college days, you can’t blame the Pistons – end of story.

    Langlois: They’re right for as far as they took it, Paul. The NBA assigns neutral clock operators from organizations not in the playoffs. But even the operator wasn’t at fault for the clock snafu. The clock stops on the officials’ whistles – and, apparently, one of the three officials working the game exhaled into his whistle forcefully enough to fool the system into stopping the clock.


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    Cheryl (Newaygo): Where was all the crying in the Philadelphia series when the shot clock started while the ball was still out of bounds and the Pistons got hit with a 24-second violation?

    Langlois: Good point, Cheryl. Of course, the Pistons won that game. Had they lost by a point or two, I’m guessing it would have been every bit the controversy that this became.


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    Robbie (Rochester, Mich.): What do you think the Pistons do in the draft? Other than maybe a solid backup to spell Tayshaun Prince or an interior defender, is there a quick fix or an outstanding prospect the Pistons could get?

    Langlois: Talked to both Joe Dumars and personnel director George David in general terms about the draft and both said that for the first time, they’re going into the draft completely focused on taking the best player regardless of position. The Pistons are pretty evenly stocked. I suppose a backup small forward would be the most obvious need with both Jarvis Hayes and Walter Herrmann pending free agents, though Herrmann will be restricted. Realistically, it’s not likely the Pistons are going to find someone at 29 who can crack next year’s rotation. Last year’s draft was generally considered a little stronger and the Pistons found Arron Afflalo at 27. But Afflalo was viewed as NBA-ready defensively, so it’s not such a surprise that he’s found a niche as a rookie. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pistons took an international prospect who could be something of a boom-or-bust pick and might stay stashed overseas for another year or two.


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    Doug (Livonia, Mich.): Why is it that former Pistons star Eddie Miles is so forgotten? It was a shame that Miles – “The Man with the Golden Arm” – was ignored as a member of the Pistons All-Time Team. A blog on NBA.com lists the top 100 Pistons of all-time and has Fennis Dembo and Brooke Steppe but not Eddie Miles.

    Langlois: I know nothing about the NBA.com list, Doug, but there’s no way Miles should be missing from that list. I was not a part of the group that made the final decision on the All-Time Pistons team of 30, but I was part of a preliminary discussion and I can assure you that Miles was on the list for consideration and received significant support. There’s no doubt that Miles’ candidacy was hurt by the fact that he played so long ago, at a time before the NBA became widely popular, and by playing on mostly losing teams. But his numbers – a 17.8 scoring average in seven seasons with the Pistons – certainly suggest he would have been a valuable player in any era.


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    Treva (Toledo, Ohio): The Pistons are playing really well right now. They seem to play better when they don’t have as many days off.

    Langlois: Players are creatures of habit. It’s rare during the regular season to have three days off between games, but when it happened the Pistons often come back a little sluggishly. This series features two situations with two days off between games, if it goes to seven games, but that shouldn’t be enough to throw the Pistons out of rhythm. The real danger, I suppose, is if they end this series in four or five games and have to wait around while Cleveland and Boston – which won’t play their Game 3 until after the Pistons and Magic have played Game 4 – take it to the limit. But, hey, it beats the alternative of losing and going home for the summer.


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    Derek (Southfield, Mich.): It’s interesting to monitor the coaches’ adjustments from game to game. In Game 2, did Rip just have an off night or did Orlando adjust to slow him down?

    Langlois: Ask Orlando and they’ll say they got more physical with him on the perimeter and did a better job of staying with him coming around picks. Ask the Pistons and they’ll say Hamilton was rushing things and playing too anxiously. There might be a measure of truth to both.


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    Adam (Elkton, Mich.): Jason Maxiell’s thunder dunks and hard play really raise the energy level of the crowd and the guys coming off the bench. What do you think – starter next season?

    Langlois: Impossible to say at this point. Seven games is a pretty small sample size. But it’s like Flip Saunders says – no need to think about changing as long as it’s working. If there are no significant roster changes over the summer, I think starting Maxiell is something Joe Dumars and Saunders will consider from every angle. They put McDyess in the starting lineup this year because they no longer wanted to put the burden of being the energy guy off the bench on him. But if Maxiell can provide consistent scoring and rebounding as a starter, then the leading role he takes in setting a tone might be best utilized in the starting lineup to help prevent sluggish starts. And they might decide that at 34 – the age McDyess will be when next season starts – that the 29 minutes a game he played this season is a little too much. Nothing will be decided until the playoffs play out and the draft and free agency and possible trades reshape the roster, but I’d say the chances are much higher today than two weeks ago because of the way Maxiell individually and the Pistons as a team have responded.


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    Rusty (Flint, Mich.): Have you noticed other teams have their fans in team-colored T-shirts? How about that for the faithful Pistons fans who’ve sold out every game? Good idea?

    Langlois: It’s been proposed and considered strongly, Rusty. The argument has basically come down to allowing fans to wear what they want – if that’s a Rasheed Wallace or Chauncey Billups jersey or their lucky T-shirt or a business suit. There’s no right or wrong on this one and I’m sure it will be considered again. It’s nice that the Pistons, working on a sixth straight trip to the conference finals, can make it an annual debate.


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    Stephen (Bozeman, Mont.): I watched Rodney Stuckey play in college and he tore up my not-very-good college team. He reminds me a lot of Dwyane Wade with the instinct to get the ball to the basket and ability to make circus layups. I got chills watching Stuckey, Afflalo and Maxiell in Game 2 frustrating the Magic at both ends. I’m not saying our bench could carry the team, but it’s going to be exciting in years to come if we can keep the guys together.

    Langlois: That’s the fascinating subplot with the Pistons – teams who’ve had the type of sustained success they’ve had aren’t supposed to have so many promising young players. After Tuesday’s practice, young big men Amir Johnson and Cheikh Samb were going at each other one-on-one in the post, both of them flashing their shot-blocking and shot-making ability. It’s pretty intriguing to imagine them playing together three or four years down the road when they’ve both matured.


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    Donna (Southfield, Mich.): There are a couple of teams out there calling for less youth and more vets – Portland and Atlanta come to mind. Do you see potential for trades happening with them this summer? Would Joe consider trading for a lottery pick or another first-rounder? Seems to me it’s an opportunity to get younger in a deep draft.

    Langlois: Portland was reportedly very active at the trade deadline, attempting to package a few good players for one better player. The Blazers will get deeper this summer with another lottery pick and the expectation that last year’s first-rounder, Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez, will join the team. Atlanta has decisions to make on a few restricted free agents, Josh Smith and Josh Childress. Dumars will consider any and all possibilities. Of course he’d be interested in getting younger, but not at the expense of compromising his chances to win a title next season, necessarily. Teams very rarely trade lottery choices. It’s tough to balance the value of a lottery pick and still make the deal work under the salary-cap. Let’s say they sent Jason Maxiell to Portland for its lottery pick. The Blazers would have to send something close to Maxiell’s 2008-09 salary back in the deal – somebody like Jarrett Jack, for instance.


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    Kartik (Ashburn, Va.): I always felt Jarvis Hayes was too inconsistent and Walter Herrmann should have gotten more of a chance. But I fail to understand how Jarvis gets benched after playing maybe 10 minutes of playoff basketball.

    Langlois: Andre Igoudala was a tough matchup for him in the first series. The Pistons went into that series hoping to spot him against Rodney Carney, but Carney got squeezed out of Philly’s rotation early in the series. When they used him against Igoudala in Game 3 – the nightmare game – he picked up two quick fouls and that was pretty much that. Orlando presents different issues. Because Hedo Turkoglu often acts as Orlando’s de facto point guard and is such an adept ballhandler and initiates pick-and-roll plays so effectively, Tayshaun Prince’s quicker feet are the preferred option. Herrmann is also pretty comfortable playing perimeter defense and is a better size matchup for Rashard Lewis.


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    Bryan (Remus): I think Billups needs to be more offensive minded with his height and strength advantage over Jameer Nelson. What adjustments will the Magic make to the Pistons’ defense against Howard?

    Langlois: Billups took 33 shots over the first two games of the series, most on the team, before going down early in Game 3. Over the course of the season, he was essentially tied for third in shot attempts with Rasheed Wallace, behind Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. He attempted 11.2 shots a game during the season, so in the first two games he was already taking almost 50 percent more shots than he took during the season. Not sure it’s wise to tilt the offense even more heavily toward him. The best adjustment Orlando could make would be Howard dominating his man so the Pistons would be forced to double-team him more often. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has said that Detroit singles Howard more than any team in the league. Until he makes them pay more dearly for that tactic, there’s not a lot of adjustments to be done.


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    Tyler (Ogden, Utah): What is the possibility of the Pistons getting Maurice Evans back?

    Langlois: He’s a free agent at the end of the year, but it’s pretty unlikely he’d come here. He’s the same player the Pistons traded to the Lakers for a late second-round pick two years ago. He’s starting in Orlando. I’d have to assume his first choice is to re-up with the Magic, who don’t have a better alternative and aren’t likely to acquire one. If he can get starter’s money in Orlando, why come here when his best-case scenario would be limited backup minutes behind Tayshaun Prince?


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    Steven (Southaven, Miss.): Which team in the Western Conference would be toughest for the Pistons in the NBA Finals?

    Langlois: Their struggles against Utah are pretty well-documented, so that would be a logical answer. But the Lakers are the most complete team in the West, so that’s my vote.


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    Andrea (Battle Creek): I enjoyed the article “Balancing Act” from Joe Dumars. Joe has the rare wisdom to not get caught up in the “everyone’s making a move, so I have to, also” frenzy. Joe did a wonderful job putting this team together. You don’t read or hear about them getting into trouble with the law or doing idiotic tings. You do hear from coaches on other teams about how well they get along and socialize together on the road. I might be biased, but I think the NBA commercials that say “Where Amazing Happens” can just feature the Pistons and stop right there.

    Langlois: The article to which you refer, Andrea, appears in the recent issue of Courtside Quarterly, distributed to Pistons season-ticket holders. In it, he talks about the balancing act of keeping the Pistons competitive in the present while maintaining enough assets to remain in championship contention into the future. Glad you liked it.
    Find a new slant.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    Aldi (Detroit): Why is Reggie Miller doing TV analysis for Pistons games when he clearly is not a fan of the Pistons. All he does is put them down.

    Langlois: Reggie’s assigned by TNT regardless of what teams are playing. The battles the Pistons had with Indiana, both early in Miller’s career with Chuck Daly’s Bad Boys and late when the Pistons again won a championship, aside, I think he’s always been pretty respectful of them. I don’t sense any anti-Pistons sentiment from Miller, who’s always been an extremely bright and personable guy. I’m sure there are Orlando fans wondering what Reggie Miller has against their team, too.
    I've seen a few Pistons games Reggie has been the color guy on and I think he's done a good job. I never got any negative vibes from him at all. I like him on the broadcast actually.
    Phil Wenneck: The man purse. You actually gonna wear that or are you just fuckin' with me?
    Alan Garner: It's where I keep all my things. Get a lot of compliments on this. Plus it's not a purse, it's called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one.

  3. #3
    Big Swami's Avatar
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    I think if I'm going to be doing Evil Keith from now on, what we ought to do is just pick out a small number letters with the greatest potential for hilarity from one week's worth of dingbats and I'll get to work on those. Answering every single question is incredibly time-consuming and mind-numbing.

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    DADZIG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Swami
    I think if I'm going to be doing Evil Keith from now on, what we ought to do is just pick out a small number letters with the greatest potential for hilarity from one week's worth of dingbats and I'll get to work on those. Answering every single question is incredibly time-consuming and mind-numbing.
    What could you do with the third one from the end?
    Find a new slant.

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    Big Swami's Avatar
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    Tyler (Ogden, Utah): What is the possibility of the Pistons getting Maurice Evans back?

    Evil Keith Langlois: Here's what I remember about Mo Evans from his days with the Pistons: 1) he looks like he comes from a remote alien civilization.* 2) He pulls his socks up too high. 3) He misses easy jump shots. 4) Flip Saunders gave him significant playing time on the 2005 team, but he asked to be traded because that wasn't enough for him. 5) In exchange for losing Mo Evans, the Pistons eventually got Cheikh Samb. And that's about all I got. And you think it's a good idea to drag this alien non-shooting, knee-high wearing pile of nutsack back to Detroit? When he's playing a completely undeserved starting role for the Disney World team?

    * Despite the many light years separating our worlds, everyone on this distant planet considers Mo Evans a douche. It will be the uniting factor in bringing them in close friendship with the people of Earth.

  6. #6
    NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH Uncle Mxy's Avatar
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    Langlois conveniently forgets some key aspects to the MoEvans experience:

    MoEvans IS A FUCKING SNITCH AND NO PLAYER TRUSTS HIM!

    The "late second-round pick" was CHEICK SAMB, who could be worthwhile and should be MENTIONED BY MOTHERFUCKING NAME YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!

    Besides, we have Arron Afflalo, who will be able to do everything MoEvans can do AND PLAY DEFENSE AND ISN'T FUCKING GOING ANYWHERE!!!

    Flip Saunders mistakes him for a POWER FORWARD COME PLAYOFF TIME!!!!

  7. #7
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned this:

    Does anyone see anything historically inaccurate about Keith's first response? I'm glad Keith didn't become a WWII beat writer.

    Quote Originally Posted by WTFchris
    MoTown is right.

  8. #8
    I still hate the French for blowing up the World Trade Center.

    Quote Originally Posted by WTFchris
    MoTown is right.

  9. #9

  10. #10
    Aldi (Detroit): Why is Reggie Miller doing TV analysis for Pistons games when he clearly is not a fan of the Pistons. All he does is put them down.


    this guy is an idiot reggie's always on our jock.

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