If we're dealing with a typical NBA team, reeling from what should be an embarrassing Game 1 loss at the hands of a team much, much lower on the talent totem poll, then you could probably pencil in an 89-point win for the Pistons tonight.
Sadly, we're not dealing with a typical NBA team. We're dealing with the Detroit Pistons, who could lose tonight and in Game 3 and then take a 19-point deficit into the fourth quarter of Game 4 before flipping that switch and starting a championship run. Or, they could lose out.
Usually this sort of unpredictability makes for a fascinating watch - who knew that the Hornets would be this good this soon, and where is Toronto/Orlando headed? - but Detroit's pell-mell nature is born of lethargy and elitism, two disturbing qualities for a supposedly blue-collar bunch.
Philly is a machine, not unlike the Chicago Bulls of recent years. They don't let much bother them, they look to get to the front of the rim and rarely get shook by large deficits. It's a credit to a coaching staff that had the guts to go with a younger rotation even when jobs for said coaching staff were on the line.
I would bank on the blowout win for Detroit tonight, but I've long looked a fool for expecting the Pistons to act their age, and the 76ers to fall off the face of the NBA world, so this is a pretty pointless bank.
Atlanta should feel more comfortable on the playoff stage tonight, in the midst of a rather anonymous Wednesday night game on NBA TV, the defense should get a little better, and more shots should fall. The Hawks will play better. Count on it.
Boston by 112.
The Lakers still have plenty of holes, though Phil Jackson has done a masterful job of making his team look damn near invincible all season, but they can be beaten.
The team is one of the league's best defensively, but poor effort stretched out over a quarter and a half can put Los Angeles behind the eight-ball. Something I'm sure that some of the team's season-ticket holders are used to.
On top of that, the Nuggets aren't the Hawks (fascinating insight, I know). Denver is a solid team that was built with championship aspirations. They can steal a win. They will have better spacing and work better on the boards with Linas Kleiza in the lineup, and they can play 48 minutes of stupid basketball and pull out the win. That cannot be discounted - bad perimeter shots and lunges for steals can be enough.
It's a one in ten chance, but there is a chance. All in all, this should still make for the best watch of the night.