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NBA Pistons at Magic Preview

December 08, 2006

NBA - Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic (-4) 7:00 EST

By Jeff Wilson

There is a changing of the guard in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat players all entering senior citizen status at the same time. The Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons are two teams trying to fill the void and go to an NBA Finals.

The Magic are 14-6 on the year, which is the best record in the Eastern Conference. Despite that fact, this is a team that has largely flown under the national radar. There are several reasons why.

One reason is Orlando doesn't have that recognizable superstar yet. Second year player, Dwight Howard is putting up superstar numbers (17 points, 13 boards), but it will take a little more time before the 20 year-old is given his just due.

Another reason is the Grant Hill factor. Hill has been injury prone this entire century, but he has stayed healthy so far this year and he is a big part of the offense. Still, the entire NBA seems to be waiting for his next visit to the injury list.

Finally, all teams in the Eastern Conference are not taken seriously compared to the West. However, Orlando is coming off a five game set out West and they won four of those games. Included in that was a win versus the NBA's best team so far, Utah.

Detroit (12-7) has been a streaky team all year. They started off the season at 3-5, then won eight straight games, and then lost two straight.

The big question heading into this season was how the Pistons would respond to Ben Wallace leaving? The man who loves his headbands was a defensive presence in the middle and a rebounder extraordinaire.

Even though the Pistons returned their top four scorers, most people felt this team would take a major step backward after going 64-18 last year and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

So far, Detroit's "center by committee" approach with Nazr Mohammed and Antonio McDyess has performed pretty well with each averaging about 20 minutes per game. They also have a great chance of making it to the NBA Finals because the conference is so weak.

Detroit played last night in Dallas and won 92-82, but it remains to be seen how they respond in the back-to-back situation. Orlando is playing their first home game in almost two weeks, and sometimes teams have a letdown coming off a long trip.

Orlando is 7-1 at home this year and 4-4 against the spread (ATS). Detroit is 6-4 on the road and 6-4 ATS.

Orlando is favored by four points and the Over / Under is 186.

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