Tonight at 7:30pm EST the Pistons will be welcoming the Houston Rockets to the Palace. The Pistons are on one days rest after a loss against the Celtics on Sunday, and the Rockets are also on one days rest following a win over the Jazz.
The Rockets are an interesting case in that they have, largely, been exactly what everyone expected them to be. They run, they shoot tons of 3s, they score tons of points, and they play very little defense.
They are led by James Harden who is having a rather absurd season with almost 29 points and 12.5 assists per game, and doing it pretty efficiently as well. Eric Gordon appears to have settled in pretty nicely being fed 3s by Harden as well as a secondary option for ball handling. Ryan Anderson can't play defense but he is shooting really well from deep, but actually struggling a bit from inside the arc (he is shooting better from 3 than he is overall from the field lol), Trevor Ariza may or may not play tonight, but he is a wily defender who can shoot and has a little dribble game. Clint Capela is holding down the middle, he is a good diver to the rim and can block some shots, he is pretty much exclusively that though. Nene is Nene, he can score and even defend a little bit but he will get hurt eventually, Patrick Beverley is back in action and is a tough defender but lacks offensive punch. Sam Dekker is not playing a huge role in the early going, but he is off to a good start scoring the ball and shooting from deep and could be a really nice big wing player. Corey Brewer can't shoot but he will get out into transition every chance he gets. Tyler Ennis does appear to be an NBA caliber player, but is a pretty generic backup point guard, KJ McDaniels has gotten some fairly regular playing time, and he is still not all that good offensively, but he is a freak athlete and good defender.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Harden: As Harden goes, so go the Rockets. This will primarily be KCP's job, and likely some Stanley Johnson. But Harden is so good that it will be a team effort. KCP has not been quite as good defensively so far this year, but he also has not gotten a ton of cracks at lead ball handlers yet, and this is a great chance for him to show that he is still up to the task, if Harden roasts him like Kyrie did though, then I'd start to legitimately be worried that KCP has lost something. Either way, this is the matchup of the game.
Pistons vs. Pace: The Rockets play fast and shoot 3s up the wazoo. The Pistons generally play a bit slower, and the threat of Andre's offensive rebounding causes most opponents to slow down significantly as well. If the Rockets can keep Andre off the boards and get out and run, the Pistons will be in rough shape, if Andre can snag a few boards early though and cause them to have to really commit to defensive rebounding it will slow them down, and make them less effective.
Andre vs. Capela: Capela is a guy who has enough talent that he can at least hang with Andre, and Capela will have much less on his plate than Andre does. If Andre can dominate regardless then the Pistons will be in good shape, if Capela can keep him in check though, the Pistons will be in trouble.
Mobias vs. Ryan Anderson: Ryan Anderson is an awful defender. Like comically bad at times. He will be asked tho check one of Mobias, and whoever that is will need to come through and have a big game. There is potential for them to even damn near play him off the court. On the other side, it will be a tough match for whoever goes against him.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre gets several offensive boards in the early going.
James Harden isn't getting calls.
Ryan Anderson has to play defense.
Run for the hills if:
The Rockets are getting out in transition.
Andre picks up a couple early fouls.
The 3s are going in for Houston.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
20/20 game for Andre.
Mobias combines for 40 points.
KCP does pretty well on Harden, but not lock down.
Harden is kept from having too big a game and commits too many turnovers, and the Rockets have no answer for Mobias and Andre, Pistons win comfortably.
What do you think? Can KCP hold Harden? Will Andre dominate? Can Marcus Morris take candy from a baby?