Coming off the All-Star Break, the Orlando Magic will get a chance to see where they stand in the Eastern Conference as they will travel to Detroit to take on the 39-13 Pistons. Detroit swept Orlando in the first-round of the playoffs last year and the two teams seem to be headed towards a collision course in the post season again, likely in the second round.
Billups has been an intricate part of Detroit's success over the past several years and is amongst the best point guards in the game. Even at the age of 31, Billups is having one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 17 points and seven assists per game.
At 6'3, 200 lbs, Billups is one of the most difficult players to guard in the game. Very few point guards can match his size, so Billups will often take advantage of that and post up the opposition. Orlando has had trouble covering Billups in the past for exactly this reason, as Jameer Nelson is far too small to contain the Pistons captain.
Billups is also the model of efficiency, especially for a player who was regarded as a shoot first guard for most of his career. He has better than a 2:1 turnover to assist ratio on the season and is also extremely proficient from behind the arc as well, as he has made 40% of his 221 three-point attempts on the year.
Combining the size of a two-guard and the skill and poise of a point guard, Billups is an extremely difficult player to defend, but where he makes his biggest contribution is in intangibles. Billups has been dubbed "Mr. Big Shot" because of his knack for making clutch shots. This ability to rise to the occasion has been vital in Detroit's playoff success over the past several years.
Orlando knows about Mr. Big Shot first hand because last year in the playoffs, he consistently hit open shots to stop Magic runs and destroy any chance they had of pulling an upset. If Orlando does intend to beat the Pistons in the playoffs this season, it must find a way to keep Billups in check, and while the Magic haven't found a way to do so yet, Tuesday night will be a good starting point. Look for Orlando's defensive specialist, Keyon Dooling, to see some extra playing time, as he did an excellent job slowing down Allen Iverson before the All-Star break and will look to do the same against Billups.
Looming Large: Chauncey Billups
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