Tonight the Pistons will be having their home opener, welcoming the Orlando Magic to the Palace at 7:30pm EST. The Pistons lost their first game to the Raptors and the Magic lost their first game to the Heat.
The Magic are now a very different team from the one they fielded last year, with 8 (I believe) new additions to the roster. Elfrid Payton is a very good defender and a smart passer, but it is unknown if he is capable of scoring with any sort of consistency at this point, Evan Fournier is an offensive stud who can shoot, pass, and finish inside, Aaron Gordon is a freak athlete who makes some absurd defensive plays and dunks but is still raw and prone to mistakes, Serge Ibaka is a good defender but who knows how he will look on offense with his new team, and Nikola Vucevic is a skilled scorer in the post and facing up but is a poor defender and never gets to the line. Off the bench DJ Augustine is a familiar face to Pistons fans and he is still doing his thing as a effective scorer and poor defender, Jeff Green is ready to disappoint another franchise, and Mario Hezonja is looking to make a improvement in his 2nd year this year. Bismack Biyombo is kind of the wild card on the team, as it is not totally clear how the Magic will use him as far as rotations go, the problem is he missed the first game of the year while serving a suspension from the playoffs last year.
The Magic figure to be a scrappy team that plays defense, rebounds, and scraps out just enough points on offense to get by. Essentially they hope to be like the Pacers the last few years. In their first game against the Heat they did not look all that good on defense, and their offense was (predictably) quite poor. But that is just one game.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Various centers: When he was on the floor against the Raptors, Andre looked excellent (other than the couple minutes at the end of the first half) and the Pistons need that from him, especially with Reggie out. But the Magic sport a very deep front court duo of Vuc and Biyombo, not to mention that Ibaka can play some minutes at center as well. Andre has got to stay out of foul trouble and will have to battle hard all night, because the Pistons will not win many games without him playing well.
KCP vs. PUTTING THE BALL IN THE HOOP: He's got to hit some shots. Seriously. On the plus side his defensive impact should be much better this game.
Ish Smith vs. Payton: Payton is a really good defensive player and may give Ish some trouble. If he is regularly staying in front of Ish and keeping him from getting to his spots it will much up the Pistons offense. Ish will have to keep working all night to make sure he can get done what the offense needs from him.
Tobais vs. Continuing: Tobias did pretty much exactly what the Pistons need him to do in the game against the Raptors, the Pistons need him ton continue to take the hard shots and come up with buckets on at least some of them, and him to generally push the envelop to get his offense at times. The only thing is he needs to try and not turn the ball over quite so much, which does not figure to be an easy task against this Orlando defense.
Bench mob vs. Eternal sadness: The bench was not much good against Tornonto, that is not the worst thing ever because Toronto has a very good bench, the Magic however, don't have a notably good bench. Hopefully a healthy Reggie Bullock getting healthy and a few more minutes for Stanley will help to bolster it a bit, because I really don't want a repeat of last year.
SVG vs. Himself: Whenever you hear about rotations with SVG (in his time with the Pistons at least) you hear about guys having to “earn his trust”. This is the sort of coach speak that caused Kendrick Perkins to kill the Thunder for so long, and left D'Angelo Russell nailed to the bench a lot of last year. SVG is a great coach, but he needs to get out of this line of thought. He himself has spent a lot of the summer trumpeting about how deep and versatile his team is now, so freaking use those guys and use versatile lineups and don't play KCP 38 minutes when he isn't doing anything. /rant
Beno vs. Getting to the left side of the floor: The Raptors did a good job forcing him to the right side of the floor where he is much less effective. He needs to get back over where he can rain death from the midrange.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre is eating the Magic alive in all manner possible.
KCP breaks out of his perpetual slump for a night.
Tobias Harris is 10/12 from the field at half.
Run for the hills if:
KCP has played 35 minutes and has 4 points.
Ish is having trouble getting past Payton.
SVG uses a 6 man rotation.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Reggie Bullock comes out as the backup SG.
Andre has a 20/20 game.
The Magic can't find a good counter to the Mobias combo.
The Pistons ride a huge game from Andre and the Mobias combo to a comfortable win.
What do you think? Will Mobias do alright? Will Andre stay on the floor?