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Happy New Year

By Daniel Strickland on January 2, 2006.

It’s January and the San Antonio Spurs are exactly where we expected them to be — first place in the Western Conference. The Spurs have now won three games in a row, seven out of their last 10, and are on track to win 60-plus games this year.

And had it not been for an injury to superstar Manu Ginobili, the Spurs would likely have beaten their best 20-game start in franchise history. Manu was back in the lineup just two days after the holiday — did Spurs fans want anything else for Christmas?

The Pistons lead the Eastern Conference, which comes as a bit of a surprise to some fans. I for one felt that the Miami Heat were a better team last year, and had it not been for a poorly timed injury to Dwayne Wade in Game 5, with the Heat leading 3 games to 2, Miami would have faced San Antonio in the Finals.

At this point in the season, I think the Pistons are the team to beat. Until Saturday’s loss to the Cavaliers, the Pistons were “on pace to win a record 73 regular-season games … and dropped to 24-4 — still one of the best starts in league history.”

Who can beat the Pistons? The Cavaliers can, having won the last three times they’ve faced each other and four of five at home against the Pistons. The Mavericks can. (They’ve beaten the Spurs, too.) The Jazz can. And the Wizards can, and they’re the only team to beat the Pistons in Detroit this year. (Only the Bulls have beaten the Spurs at home this year, and neither the Wizards or Bulls are serious playoff contenders.

The Pistons face the Spurs on their home court in just 10 days. It’s going to be a great game.

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