Opponent Scouting: Denver Nuggets. (37-31)

Tonight at 9:00pm EST the Pistons will continue their west-coast road trip to play against the Nuggets in Denver. The Pistons are on one day of rest after being kind enough to help the Jazz run a practice on Tuesday. The Nuggets are also on one day of rest after losing to the Lakers on Tuesday.


The Them:

The Nuggets are good, even if they end up missing the playoffs in a brutal Western Conference. They come into the game with the 6th best offensive efficiency in the NBA by scoring 109 points per 100 possessions, unfortunately their defense is almost as bad as their offense is good by allowing 108.5 points per 100 possessions which is 25th in the NBA.

The Nuggets are led by big-man Jesus Nikola Jokic who averages a monstrous 17.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. His defense is, lacking, to say the least but he is a brilliant offensive player. Gary Harris built off a great year last year and leads the Nuggets in scoring at 17.8 per game, he is something akin to Reggie Bullock when Reggie Bullock is at his best but getting to do his stuff with one of the greatest passing big men to ever live. Lots of off-ball stuff, great cutter, great shooter. Earlier in the season I said of Murray that “We are not sure if he is actually all that good or not” we now know. Jamal Murray is good, he is a pure shooter and capable of going for big games scoring. The question now is whether or not he is really a point guard long-term or not, although with Jokic around he will never have to take on a huge burden facilitating. Paul Millsap only recently returned from injury and is still finding his footing a bit, but assuming he gets back to full form he should still be one of the best all-around forwards in the game today. Wilson Chandler is often a shell of himself, but he can still do most basic wing stuff. Will Barton is a terror scoring off the bench, Mason Plumlee is still a thing and he is a decent big man. Trey Lyles can shoot at the 4 spot, Devin Harris is now doing his thing here, he's old but still can do some stuff.

The Nuggets have a ton of offensive firepower, and play very little defense. The hope is that Millsap (a great defender) will help in that department as he gets back into form, indeed, Millsap should help a lot of things. They may miss the playoffs, but this team is very good.


Matchups to watch:

  • Pistons vs. Not ruining everything: I resigned myself to the Pistons missing the playoffs a bit ago, I announced it in this space in fact. Getting blown out repeatedly is wearing on even my optimistic spirits. Playoffs are all but out of the question, SVG may well be on his way out, but the Pistons need to pull something together going down the stretch so that there is something to look to heading into next year.

  • Blake Griffin vs. Attacking: Griffin struggled last time out, which was somewhat understandable given that the Jazz are an awesome defensive team who especially thrive at holding the paint with an iron grip and made worse by the dreaded Johnson/Smith duo starting again. The Jazz are not good defensively. Griffin has to attack, if he does he should face minimal resistance.

  • Drummond vs. Jokic: Talk about difference in styles. It will be facinating to watch them go against each other, the Nuggets often try to play Jokic at the 4 more often but have really let him play center more with Millsap in the lineup.

  • Ish Smith vs. Jamal Murray: I will say it again, Ish Smith has become a total disaster defensively over the last month+. He is not the only problem of course, but he is a problem. He has really struggled with guys who can shoot, and especially with guys who are big enough to shoot over him. Murray is both of those things, this will probably go poorly for the Pistons.

  • Luke Kennard vs. Overcoming: Even if the team around him continues to be a dumpster fire, if Kennard can replicate his performance against the Jazz it would be nice.

  • Pistons vs. 3-point shooters: The Pistons can't defend the long-line to save their lives. Until this changes the Pistons will continue to get blown out. The Nuggets are a team that can really shoot.


So in conclusion...


Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • The Pistons are not losing by 20 at the end of the first quarter.

  • The Pistons are not losing by 30 at halftime.

  • Luke Kennard remains a silver lining.


Run for the hills if:

  • The Pistons are down by 20 in the first quarter.

  • The Pistons are down by 30 in the second quarter.

  • The Nuggets hit a lot of threes.


Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • I'm making no predictions for this one. The whole point is to be optimistic predictions, but I cannot make one for this. Until the Pistons manage to not get blown out by a good team that isn't unrested I ain't doing it.



What do you think? Drummond or Jokic? Can Griffin get it going against the soft Denver defense?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #66. Pistons 99 - Bulls 83. (30-36)

Well, it is a step forward I suppose.


Box score.


Ish Smith:

12 points on 11 equivalents with 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 31 minutes. I'm trying not to focus to much on how his lack of shooting has ruined so much and with that mindset he actually had a nice night. He especially made a couple of really nice plays in the 4th quarter to make sure the Bulls were not able to make things interesting. Smith was still awful defensively and it remains pretty perplexing to see Smith making Cameron Payne look like a viable NBA player. We will get concrete answers over the next couple of days, but the hope is that this was the last of Ish Smith as a starter which will be good for everyone.


Reggie Bullock:

This dude is a killer. He's largely moved back off ball after trying to put the ball in his hands extensively and it has been good for him. He and the team actually have come out of that experiment better for it, the Pistons have shifted those handoffs into Blake Griffin doing stuff which is good, while still having Bullock at a comfort level where he can still get the occasional hand-off and it doesn't look as clunky as it has in the past. When he has his feet set though, Bullock is comically good as a shooter, he remains a brilliant cutter, and is really learning how to effectively leverage Blake Griffin's presence on the floor to find gaps. He finished with 21 points on 12 shots with 3 boards and an assist in 33 minutes. The Pistons need one of their wings to pop to make this roster work long-term, and if Bullock can keep doing this it would be a god-send for the franchise.


James Ennis:

I love this dudes game. 14 points on 10 shots with 3 rebounds, and 3 steals in 31 minutes. His shot is not quick but that is really the only downside to his game. His goofy, slow motion style contrasts with his explosive jumping ability in a super fun way, and I did not think he was this good at attacking closeouts when guys close out too hard on him. He has a real knack for finishing tough looks in the paint as well as being a tough defender. It is somewhat a sign of the tough situation the Pistons are in, but the Pistons have to hope they can afford to keep Ennis around next season because he could be a really important piece.


Blake Griffin:

Blake Griffin tonight: 25 points on 19 equivalents, 8 rebounds, 8 assists (against 3 turnovers) and +19 in 35 minutes of play. Blake Griffin over the last 5 games: 24.8 points (shooting 48.4% from the field and 48% from deep), 6.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists (against 2 turnovers) with a true shooting percentage of 57.5%. It is still often ugly and there is plenty of work to do, but Blake Griffin has found his footing in Detroit. This is the guy the Pistons traded for, not the slow footed Josh Smith impersonator who was floating around. Griffin was great in this game, the Bulls didn't have a great answer for him, and he even managed to (finally) not allow a big game while guarding a three-point threat. In fact Lauri Markkanen was downright awful, scoring just 6 points on 12 shots and Bobby Portis (who Griffin also often checked) had 2 points on 10 shots. I'm not saying that Griffin was great defensively (he wasn't) but this is progress. And if the Pistons want to try and make a run for the playoffs they will need this version of Griffin the rest of the way.


Andre Drummond:

The downside to Griffin finding his footing is that the Pistons have achieved it by aggressively hunting mismatches and letting Griffin isolate against them. This has resulted in Drummond fading from the offense and that continued in this one. Just 5 points on 7 shots is not good, but he made it up in other areas with 17 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 4 blocks. Hopefully Reggie Jackson's return helps since the Pistons can play pick and roll again, but this is actually the thing that will be trickiest about the Griffin/Drummond pairing. Maximizing both guys at the same time. Drummond did also go +18 on the night, behind only Griffin's +19 so he definitely had a good game overall.


Luke Kennard:

MMMMmmmmm, Kennard. 10 points on 11 equivalents with 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 31 minutes of work. He had a awesome and brutish post up of Cameron Payne which was very cool and probably the best thing white people have achieved since the Magna Carta. One thing I really want to note here is that Luke Kennard snagged 6 rebounds. That is not a fluke, a goofy thing about Kennard's game from college was that he was a sneaky-good rebounder for his position and that has carried over to the NBA. He has a good nose for the ball and boxes out pretty diligently. Little things like that do matter over the course of a game and is a really nice piece of his game.


Eric Moreland:

Moreland remains a guy who can be a bit hit or miss as his focus comes and goes a bit to decide if his manic energy is formed into something contructive or just wild. He was definitely on the right side of that in this one. His defense was very good which was reflected by his 3 blocks and a steal which went very nice with his 7 rebounds. On top of that, there has been a good trend for Moreland recently of that he is not as terribly gun shy as he has been most of the year. He scored 8 points on 5 shots in this game, which puts him at an average of 5.3 per game over the last 6 games (which starts with the Bucks game where this trend started.) which is a meager amount, but when you consider that he is still sitting at just 1.8 points per game (!!!) on the season this is a big improvement. This is a good trend because I'm pretty sure he is able to do scoring closer to this level than what he had been at. In the G-League he averaged nearly 13 points per game (over 44 games last year so there is real sample size there) on very good efficiency. If you've interest go watch some of his highlights there, he can hit hook shots and has decent touch around the rim, obviously it is different in the NBA but my man was averaging 5.6 points per 36 minutes lol. If he actually goes up when he has space it will make the bench mob a little less terrible defensively and they need every bit of help they can get on that end. Basically as a scorer, I think he could be close to Aron Baynes minus the jumper, which is not all that good, but at least able to fairly effectively finish looks that are created for him.


Jameer Nelson:

Back in the rotation with Dwight Buycks out and ho baby he is no better. 4 points on 6 equivalents and just 1-5 from the field. He did manage 3 assists and also made a couple of really good hustle plays (including making a tough layup) when the Bulls were threatening to get within striking distance which was nice. Still though, ew.


Anthony Tolliver:

Ouch. 0-5 with no points in 12 minutes. Tolly did not have a good outing.




The Pistons continue to be bit by having stretches where they turn the ball over a ton. This is not something that has been a problem in the SVG era. They are simply not good enough to get away with sloppy play. Fortunately the Bulls are terrible and the Pistons really got going after that terrible start to the game. Also as a slight note worth mentioning is that there is a reason the Bulls have basically stopped playing Robin Lopez (and indeed benched him in the second half of this game) and its because the Bulls actually have some offensive firepower with Markkanen, Portis, LaVine, and Holiday, and Robin Lopez is a dude who is (and always has been) the type who single-handedly makes gives you a certain amount of competence defensively. Still, you would've preferred this to be a little bit more emphatic of a win, even though the Pistons clearly controlled the game after the first quarter that sloppy opening frame kept them from really blowing it open. That said, it still ended up being fairly comfortable so I'm not going to complain too much.



What do you think? Can Reggie Jackson save the Pistons? Is Reggie Bullock the dopest dude ever?

Opponent Scouting: Chicago Bulls. (22-42)

Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be hosting the Chicago Bulls at the LCA for their last home game before a long west coast trip. Both teams are on one day of rest. The Pistons lost to the Raptors last time out, while the Bulls beat the Grizzlies.


The Them:

The Bulls are bad again. Gone are the couple of weeks where they won a bunch of games. The Bulls come in featuring the 28th best offensive efficiency in the NBA by scoring 101.4 points per 100 possessions and the 25th defensive efficiency by allowing 108.4 points per 100 possessions. And remember that both of those numbers got boosts during that winning streak and have since gone back down. The Bulls are very bad.

All that said, there is a foundation here that could maybe work. They have tried a bunch of different lineups lately, but the last couple of games they've started with Bobby Portis and Lauri Markkanen up front, which is a spacey front-court and combines with Zach LaVine's killer slashing to be intriguing long term. Of course those lineups defend on one but that's how things go with young teams.

Regardless, Lauri Markkanen is tall and can really shoot the ball. He doesn't do a lot of defending and has a lot of refining to do to other parts of his offensive game, but tall dudes who can shoot like that are always problems to defend. Zach Lavine has shot the ball pretty well from deep but he has struggled a bit in other areas, although the Bulls certainly have to be happy with how he's looked coming off such a serious injury. Kris Dunn can defend, and is just barely at or over most levels of competence offensively which is a big improvement from his awful rookie season. Justin Holiday can shoot threes, but not much else. Bobby Portis can shoot and score in the post a bit, although he is still a kind of tricky fit. Denzel Valentine can shoot. David Nwaba is a personal favorite and its a shame that he's wasting away on such a bad team, he doesn't really offense so much but is a terror on defense and I seriously wish the Pistons had tried to snag him on the cheap or try to do so this off-season. Cristiano Felicio is big and bouncy. Cameron Payne is very bad, Noah Vonleh is still kicking around and should give Pistons fans some peace of mind about their lack of pick this year, because last time the Pistons didn't have their first round pick they missed out on Noah Vonleh. I'm not sure if Robin Lopez will play at all, the league apparently issued a warning about it but he still hasn't played recently so I have no idea.

This team is very bad. When they have Nwaba, Dunn, and Felicio (or Robin Lopez) on the floor they have some outlining of competent defense, and when they have Markkanen, Portis, and LaVine on the floor they have some outlining of competent offense. They are not total pushovers, but they are pretty close.


Matchups to watch:

  • Pistons front-court vs. Bulls front-court: To be clear, the Pistons should have a big advantage no matter what. But if the Bulls go with the Portis/Markkanen look up front it will provide a challenge to the Pistons. Drummond and Griffin would have to respect the shooting and be out of the paint a lot. On the other hand, the thought of Markkanen trying to box out Andre Drummond does put a smile on my face.

  • Pistons vs. Zach Lavine: LaVine can still score in bunches and in various ways. Markkanen's shooting is probably the scariest thing on the Bulls right now, but if the Pistons can keep LaVine in place then the Bulls have basically no off the bounce punch.

  • Pistons vs. Hitting open shots: Especially if Robin Lopez is indeed done this seasons, the Bulls are TERRIBLE defensively. The Pistons will get open looks. If the Pistons do not score a ton of points they will have no one to blame but themselves.

  • The Pistons vs. Sticking to shooters: It is well documented at this point that the Pistons have not defended the three well lately. Griffin and Smith especially. The Bulls are bad, but they are able to throw out lineups with a ton of shooting. Once again, the starting lineup they used last time out featured 4 guys shooting over 35% from deep, and the 5th is Kris Dunn at 33%. If the Pistons let shooters get open the Bulls have enough good shooters that they could be trouble, but that's really the only way.

  • Pistons vs. Going for it: I'm not getting my hopes up, I've said as much. But my assumption has remained that to have a chance at making the playoffs the Pistons would need to get at least 42 wins. That means they have 4 more losses allowed this season, a tall task, but the schedule is not exactly filled with terrifying teams the rest of the way. (though it does have a lot of road games) If the Pistons want to make the playoffs they cannot lose this game, for two reasons. First off, they have four losses left and this can't be one of them. Second off, if they want to be able to go on that kind of run to finish the year then they have to be good enough to take care of business tonight. If they can't beat this Bulls team, then even if Reggie Jackson comes back firing they probably have too many problems to fix this year.


So in conclusion...


Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Blake Griffin is scoring on whoever the Bulls throw at him.

  • The Pistons have a borderline layup line.

  • The Bulls are not generating much on offense as LaVine is contained.


Run for the hills if:

  • The Bulls start hitting lots of threes.

  • The Pistons are missing shots everywhere.

  • The game is close in the 4th quarter.


Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond get lots of points and rebounds.

  • Markkanen does score some points.

  • The Bulls struggle to create much offensive flow.

  • The Bulls have no answer for Griffin and Drummond and the Pistons get a blowout victory.

  • Pistons 122 – Bulls 100.


What do you think? Can the Pistons stick with shooters? Can they take care of business?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #65. Pistons 119 - Raptors 121. (29-36)

I mean. Wow. What a freaking game. There is plenty of space here to bellyache and be upset, but I still hope everyone was able to enjoy that at least a bit.


Box score.


Ish Smith:

Statistically Ish had a solid game. 14 points on 10 shots with 7 assists against just 7 turnovers in 38 minutes of play. He also made a couple of plays down the stretch, including a three-pointer. In the end though, I can't help but feel like Ish Smith is THE problem. We will see long term, I'm open to the fact that I may be wrong, but when I watch I just see how often he is ruining things. The most bizarre thing has been his total disintegration defensively. He has never been all that good of a defender, but he's been a total disaster over the last month or so, especially since the all-star break. He is fouling a three-point shooter every night, makes rotations that make absolutely no sense, and been comically bad as a transition defender. I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong. I'm just saying what I see, and I see Ish Smith as the guy at the heart of an awful lot of what has been wrong with the Pistons lately.


Luke Kennard:

Roaring back into the rotation with Stanley Johnson out, SVG decided to give the offense a kick-start and just put Kennard into the starting lineup. Kennard himself had a bit of an uneven outing, 9 points on 8 shots with 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in 31 minutes. He missed a couple of shots he really should've hit, and his defense was at times a problem. That said, the Pistons could really have something with him and Bullock on the floor together. Right after the Blake Griffin trade I tossed out a theoretical lineup of Rjax/Kennard/Bullock/Griffin/Drummond as one that may be almost totally impossible to guard, and it was almost that with Ish Smith in Jackson's place. Kennard and Bullock are both such good shooters with quick releases, defenses react to them off the ball in a big way. I have no idea if Kennard starting is something SVG has any intention of sticking with or if it was just because Stanley Johnson was hurt and he wanted to match up rotations. (If you start Bullock and Ennis then you are playing Kennard at small forward some in this game) But Kennard has a positive influence on the offense.


Reggie Bullock:

This game was reminiscent of quite a few Marcus Morris games over the past two years. Bullock had a really good outing, scoring 21 points on just 15 equivalents along with 3 rebounds and 4 assists in 39 minutes. And several of those points were in the clutch. On the other end he gave everything he had to defend a great offensive player. And yet, he just couldn't do enough. He missed a very wide open (if really deep) three-pointer that would've (likely) won the Pistons the game in overtime, and no matter what he did he could not stop DeMar DeRozan on the other end. With Stanley Johnson out it largely fell to Bullock and he just couldn't do it. It was one of those games where it ends and its conflicting with the guy, on one hand he made offensive plays all night even if he missed a couple late and you don't want to be hard on a guy who gave his all on defense but on the other hand he could not slow down DeRozan at all. I'll give Bullock a positive on the night given that the Pistons didn't really have another option for DeRozan.


Blake Griffin:

Blake Griffin heard you all talking crap. 31 points on 24 equivalents with 3 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, and a block in 38 minutes. He made big play after big play down the stretch of the game, the sort of night where you know he can skip leg-day for a while because he did plenty of carrying in this game. In the end this was probably Griffin's best game with the Pistons, the Raptors had no good answer for him on one end, and Griffin looked as solid on defense as he has in a Piston uniform. He has started to look more comfortable in the offense and defense over the last few games, so I will say again. If there is one positive to take from the last few games where the Pistons playoff hopes died, it is that Blake Griffin has started to look like Blake Griffin. Dude just balled out.


Andre Drummond:

One of those nights. I don't think he really even took any terrible shots (other than another kind of jumper. Yuck.) but he just couldn't get them in the hoop. 10 points on 14 shots with 21 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks in 37 minutes. He rebounded the ball well of course, but he struggled a bit with the other areas of his game. The one good thing is that Valanciunas did not own him so that demon is pretty much done with now I think. The Pistons are getting him back involved as a passer and ball-handler after going totally away from him and I think that's a positive, but it will be challenging to find the right balance between having the ball with Drummond and Griffin.


James Ennis:

I really like James Ennis lol. 14 points on 9 equivalents with 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 36 minutes of play. He gets out in transition and really attacks closeouts. He made several really big buckets at times in the game. The only thing I wonder is if he could've maybe done a better job against DeRozan, although he's probably a bit slow for that.


Eric Moreland:

Like most of the bench (other than Ennis) it was a tale of two halves. In the first half Moreland was excellent, on the floor when the Pistons pulled out to a big lead. His energy was a problem for the Raptors. He made several defensive plays and even offensive plays. In the second half he struggled to make an impact though. In the end he played a good game though, 6 points on 4 shots with 8 rebounds and a couple blocks in 16 minutes is something I will always take from Moreland.


Anthony Tolliver:

7 points on 4 shots. Tolly didn't have a huge impact on the game, but he hit a couple of shots and that is what he's there for. He did his job.


Dwight Buycks:

7 points on 10 equivalents with just a pair of assists in 15 minutes. This game is why there was hesitation to go to him in the rotation. He makes a tough living scoring the ball, and doesn't see the floor that well. I once again re-iterate that I love his defense which helps, and I also legitimately think he has outplayed Ish Smith lately. Tough game, but not awful.



Fun game. Some questionable calls, in the end the same thing did the Pistons in that has done them in a lot recently. Over SVG's tenure as coach, the Pistons have consistently been one of the top teams in the NBA at not turning the ball over, and keeping teams out of transition. (This is one of the reasons I still defend SVG FWIW, those are both markers of a well coached team) But since the all-star break the Pistons have had stretches where these two pillars of the team totally break down, they turn the ball over, and let opponents turn them into easy transition points. I don't know exactly what the deal is that is causing it, but that is a big problem.

This game also did a good job of highlighting the big question the Pistons face going forward. Griffin and Drummond can 100% work together, the trick will be finding the right mix around them with limited flexibility to do so. In this game Stanley Johnson was out with injury, and the Pistons offense looked as good as it has in a long time, Blake Griffin was unstoppable. And yet, with every DeMar DeRozan mid-range jumper you remembered how important Stanley Johnson is to the Piston defense. And that is the question, how do you find the right mix of offense and defense?



What do you think? How about Blake Griffin? Should Ennis have gotten some run against DeRozan?

Opponent Scouting: Toronto Raptors. (46-17)

Tonight at 8:00pm EST the Pistons will be back at home to host the Toronto Raptors for a nationally televised game. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, while the Raptors are on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Hawks last night.


A note:

The Pistons playoff chances are pretty much done. It is still possible they go on a run once Reggie Jackson returns and one of the teams above them falls apart (that second bit is actually fairly likely) but that is a long shot. The Pistons also already have 29 wins so its pointless to tank. As such, I'm into full eye-test mode. I'm not going to stress over the fact that every loss shrinks their already tiny playoff chances, I'm looking at what is working and what isn't. You all can despair all you want, I'm just letting you know the mind-set of the previews and recaps from here on out.


The Them:

The Raptors are stupidly good. Until they shake it with a great playoff apperance they will still have the cloud of past playoff failures hanging over them, but this years team may be different. By most metrics they are not only clearly the best team in the East, they are the true number 3 team in the NBA. They come into the game featuring the 4th best offensive efficiency in the NBA by scoring 110.8 points per 100 possessions, and the 3rd best defensive efficiency by allowing 102.4 points per 100 possessions. Yeah, the Raptors are really stinking good.

The Raptors are of course led by their all-star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan is a brilliant scorer who has even added a dash of three-point shooting to his game, he also has become a great passer. Kyle Lowry has taken a bit of a back seat but is the best off-the-dribble three point launcher this side of the Mississippi, is a great facilitator, and plays defense. Serge Ibaka is something akin to a really high level 3 and D big. Jonas Valanciunas can score and rebound, but if Drummond has another good game tonight then the Valanciunas owning Drummond meme can probably finally die. Something called Malcolm Miller started for them last night at small forward. Fred VanVleet is a shooty point guard who defends. C.J. Miles is a shameless chucker who is pretty freaking good at it. Jakob Poeltl is big, strong, fairly athletic, and plays hard at the center spot. Pascal Siakam is basically the same thing as Poeltl but Siakam plays mostly power forward. Delon Wright can shoot and do basic guard stuffs. OG Anunoby has missed the last few games (hence this Malcolm Miller fellow starting last night) but may come back for this one.

This team has a great 1-2 punch at the top, has a stable of really solid players beyond that, and has continuity and comfort with themselves.


Matchups to watch:

  • Who's playing? OG Anunoby may or may not play. While it isn't a big deal, having a freshly minted 10-day contract starting isn't ideal for the Raptors. Stanley Johnson's back tightened up on him in practice and Luke Kennard was sick so Reggie Hearn is up from the Drive. Worth watching.

  • Drummond vs. Valanciunas: If Drummond takes care of business in this matchup tonight then the meme can die. Please let this meme die. Also if Drummond isn't getting owned by Valanciunas he suddenly becomes kind of a problem for the Raptors.

  • Ibaka vs. Griffin: Ibaka isn't the caliber player as Griffin but he's still good. Griffin will have to work on offense for his numbers and also can't fall asleep on defense.

  • Ish Smith vs. Kyle Lowry: Ish Smith has played terrible defense lately and I'm not sure what happened to be honest. He's never been all that good but he hasn't been this bad. He needs to get himself together to keep Lowry from scoring so many easy points.

  • The Pistons vs. DeRozan: If Stanley Johnson is healthy and ready to go this gets less scary. Johnson won't stop him but he can keep him in check. If Johnson is out though I don't like where this matchup is headed.


So in conclusion...


Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Stanley Johnson plays and he steals DeRozan's soul.


  • Blake Griffin continues to look more comfortable and puts up a monster game.


Run for the hills if:

  • The meme will never die. Jonas Valanciunas owns Andre Drummond.

  • Stanley Johnson doesn't play or isn't 100% and DeRozan scores a lot of points.

  • Kyle Lowry basically has a layup line of open three-pointers.


Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • The Pistons really are a different team at home, play less sloppy.

  • The Raptors are tired.

  • Blake Griffin dominates the game with his first huge stat-game in a win.

  • Pistons 115 – Raptors 107. (plz)


What do you think? Can Griffin continue to get comfortable? Can the Pistons defend anyone?