[Ben Wallace is out tonight after what I will facetiously guess is a massive hangover. Ya know, I get the same sinus things after a morning session of hurling the previous night's poison out of me. Although I've never been taken to the hospital for it, I've also never gone drinking with the Pistons. On to the preview.]
The Pistons have the #1 seed pretty much locked up, they can tolerate a loss tonight. Rasheed Wallace may not play due to hyperextending his finger the night before in Indiana.
The thing that gets me most about the Pistons' attitude is their sense of entitlement, like they're the next great dynasty in the NBA and have won multiple championships. It's annoying, but they have been to the conference finals for 4 straight seasons, which is pretty good.
But should they respect the Bulls more? Maybe, but they certainly don't have to. The Bulls have had a real good season, but the Pistons had a better one. The Bulls are a good team, but the Pistons are better. Are they so much better that the Bulls should be dismissed in a 7-game series? I don't think so, but there's no sense in us whining about the Bulls having entitled respect before the playoffs even begin.
There is no real rivalry yet between these teams. The Bulls are likely seen as an annoyance more than a threat. The Pistons more likely have nightmares over their collapse against Miami last season, or nearly losing a playoff war against LeBron and the Jamesons. I think the Bulls can give them a similar war, and win it...but the first shot isn't tonight, it's next month.
But what I've been referring to is the significance of this game to the Pistons. For the Bulls it's still significant because every game is important to overtake the #2 seed from the Cavs. The Shaq-sized elephant in the room has me nervous of the Bulls facing Miami, and with the Heat now in the drivers seat to take the Southeast Division, the better chance to avoid that 4-5 matchup is to get the #2 seed. (better yet, hope they pass Toronto and get the #3 seed so it doesn't really matter)
So Bulls need to just win, regardless of the opponent. If they do tonight, the Pistons will say they didn't care anyway. Whether that's true doesn't matter, the (re)start of any rivalry can begin in the Playoffs.