Tonight the Pistons will be on the road again to take on the Charlotte Hornets at 7:00pm EST. The Pistons are going to be on 2 days rest following a loss to the Thunder on Saturday, meanwhile the Hornets will be on the 2nd night of a back to back, however they slaughtered the Grizzlies so they should be fairly rested still.
The Hornets are largely the same sort of team they were last year, even if some of the faces have changed. They have a wonderful coach in Steve Clifford, which is a great asset, and they are generally a team with above average talent. The combination of coaching and talent puts them in the upper reaches of the slug fest of the middle of the Eastern Conference, but they likely lack the real power on their team to climb much higher than that.
They are led so far by an absolutely monster start for Kemba Walker, he is averaging 24.5 points per game, topping his previous career best (last year) of just over 20, and he is doing it on, by far, his best efficiency. He is firing triples off the dribble and murdering dudes with his crossover. We will see if he keeps it up, but as of now he would be easily cemented as an all star this year. Nic Batum is not off to a great start scoring the ball, but he is a really nice swiss army knife type who can do a bit of everything and he is likely to start hitting more shots at some point. MKG is a defensive menace, and even though he still can't really shoot at all, he whether he has the ball or not, he attacks the rim with abandon and is pretty good at finishing and drawing a few fouls. Marvin Williams is probably not playing. Cody Zeller has rounded out into a really good big man who has a versatile skill set to go along with good athleticism and strength. Like if Jon Leuer was bigger and generally more defensively sound, but didn't ever shoot 3s. Roy Hibbert is pretty much what he is at this point, he is huge and can protect the rim with a dash of ability to finish around the hoop, not much more than that. Frank Kaminsky is a really good cog off the bench who is a guy who is super smart in the way he moves the ball and can score at a decent clip as well, he appears to have really found his footing. Jeremy Lamb is a decent 2 way wing athlete guy, Marco Bellinelli can shoot and so can Spencer Hawes. Ramon Sessions is just a pretty good backup PG. This is just a pretty deep team who has a really good coach. Even if Kemba drops off a bit, guys like Batum and Williams figure to improve from rough starts so this team should be good all year.
Matchups to watch:
Ish vs. Kemba: Walker is the Hornets best player, and Ish is likely to spend most of the game matched up with him. They are both of similar size and both of them are water bug types, of course Kemba is much better, but Ish may actually be able to play him pretty close for a night.
Pistons vs. Keeping an eye on MKG: MKG is aggressive in chasing after offensive rebounds, the Pistons are usually pretty comfortable with just letting Andre clean the glass. But tonight they will need to be careful to keep an eye on him because obviously Andre won't be boxing him out.
Andre vs. Being dope: Andre has played very well the last few games, if he could keep that up it would be great. Throw in the fact that the Hornets don't really have anyone who really has the right combination of speed and size to consistently stick with Andre, and he could be in for a big night.
Hornets vs. back to back: Even after a night where they get a bit of extra rest, its always hard to play on a back to back.
Pistons vs. Road: The Pistons need to win some freaking road games man.
KCP vs. Batum: Batum has the sort of size that gives KCP trouble, and unlike last year there is not a better place to put him if the Pistons want to slide Morris onto Batum. As such KCP will have to man up and find a way to keep Batum in check, although given how Batum has shot it this year it may not be a huge issue anyways.
Bench mobs: The Hornets bench is not as scary as it was when Jeremy Lin was coming off of it, but it is still pretty good. This is a game that has some potential to be one where the Hornet bench mob opens up a big lead, and the starters will have a hard time coming back. The bench will have to at least hold serve.
Pistons vs. Getting one: This is probably as tough a stretch as the Pistons have all year, as the Pistons are going up against quite a few quality teams in a row. If they could just find a way to snatch one out of the gate it would be huge considering Reggie's imminent return.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre is on pace for a 20/20 game.
Ish is able to play pretty even with Kemba.
Frank Kaminsky is going to have to guard one of Mobias.
Reggie is coming back soon. This is good.
Run for the hills if:
MKG is going to be guarding the other member of Mobias.
Nic Batum is scoring with ease over KCP.
The Hornets bench mob pulls open a sizable lead over the Pistons bench mob.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
One of Mobias has a field day.
Nic Batum is a problem.
Roy Hibbert falls over at least 4 times.
Pistons win a close game with Tobias Harris hitting the game winning shot.
What do you think? Can KCP keep with Batum? Can Andre keep up his good play?