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What has worried Daly is the ankle injury, carried over from the postseason, that kept Dennis Rodman from most of the exhibition action. Has Rodman recovered, or will the injury keep bothering him? One of the keys to Detroit's championship drive last season was the good health of its frontline players; the Pistons' top eight missed a combined 13 games among them. But Thomas, Laimbeer and Mark Aguirre were injured during exhibitions, and Daly worries that this could be a harbinger of the regular season. The Pistons have felt the Bulls' heat for three years, and, this season, Detroit will succumb to it.
In contrast to Detroit, the Cavaliers lost a total of 154 player games to injury last season. They can't be that unlucky again, particularly not with savvy center Brad Daugherty, who missed 41 games in '89-90 and whose presence is an absolute necessity if coach Lenny Wilkens's disciplined post offense is to function properly.
Yes, rookie Danny Ferry will help, though Cav fans shouldn't expect miracles. Ferry and $26.5 million man John (Hot Rod) Williams will make a highly versatile frontcourt combo. But the Cavs just don't have enough fire-in-the-belly players to beat back Chicago and Detroit.
Under new coach Chris Ford the Celtics featured an up-tempo running style in the exhibition season, but the ill-fated two-year regime of former coach Jimmy Rodgers started that way, too. So what's the difference this year?
A few things: the maturation of starting point guard Brian Shaw, whose strong preseason play has helped ease the strain of his rancorous summer-long contract wrangling with management, and of starting two-guard Reggie Lewis; the addition of rookie point guard Dee Brown, a legitimate burner; and the democratic touch of Ford, who has the respect and attention of Celtics veterans Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
The Knicks made few alterations and will be counting on the still-emerging talents of Patrick Ewing. And what else?