Hollinger's Team Forecast: Detroit Pistons

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Maybe they just peaked too early. The Pistons responded to new coach Flip Saunders in strong fashion, racing out to a 37-5 start that had some pundits talking about naming all five Detroit starters to the All-Star team. Four of them ended up making it as a reward for the Pistons' hot start, but they cooled off considerably in the second half. Detroit's 27-13 mark in the final 40 games was plenty impressive in its own right, but paled beside the scalding start.

In retrospect, perhaps that should have been a warning sign. But few were concerned when the playoffs started as Detroit easily advanced past Milwaukee in five games in the first round and then crushed Cleveland 113-86 in the opening game of the second round.

At that point, the Pistons' offense careened off a cliff and was never heard from again. They didn't clear 100 points once in their final 12 playoff games and rarely threatened it, scoring 86 points or fewer in nine of the contests. As a result, Detroit barely eked past Cleveland in the second round -- the Pistons averaged 79.2 points in the final five games -- and bowed out meekly in six to Miami in the conference finals.