Tonight the Pistons are back home before a west coast trip, and they will be hosting the Denver Nuggets at 7:00pm EST. The Nuggets are on one days rest after a close win over the Timberwolves on Thursday, and the Pistons are on 2 days rest following a loss to the Nets on Wednesday.
The Nuggets are a team in limbo of sorts, which makes them hugely intriguing. They have young talent on their team, the slick shooting and passing Nikola Jokic is hugely talented on offense and has legit size, Jusuf Nurkic is nicknamed “The Bosnian Bear” for a reason, he has a unique blend of brute strength and quickness and he knows how to use it. Emmanuel Mudiay is still very rough around the edges as a point guard (as most 20 year olds are) but he is a freak athlete and shows signs of brilliance, Gary Harris had a bounce back sophmore year last year and could develop into a rock solid 3 and D guy at the SG position. (although he has not yet played this season, he might make his debut against the Pistons.) And while it is far too early to really say much about Jamal Murray, he certainly has potential, and Juan Hernangomez has an awesome name.
The Nuggets blend the young talent with proven veterans who range from “reliable” to “really good.” Will Barton is a demonic scorer capable of huge bursts of output and appears to perhaps be the next Jamal Crawford in more ways than one, Wilson Chandler is playing again after missing all of last year, and he is perhaps a bit rusty but still a wonderful 2 way wing player. Kenneth Faried has been a bit maligned the past couple of years, but he has played really well in the young season and is still a monster rebounder and effort guy. Jameer Nelson and his huge shoulders refuse to die. Lastly is Gallo, Danilo Gallinari is actually really stinking good. He is not off to a blazing start to the year, but he is a straight baller who makes a living off of the highest degree of difficulty shots and drawing fouls, and he killed the Pistons last year.
When you put a good coach on top of all those guys, the Nuggets have potential to actually be a good team, whether they are good enough to justify riding out the season with this roster or just trade the veterans for younger guys and picks is a question they will face all the way until the deadline.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Effort level: I disagreed with SVG's decision to bench him, but Andre's effort level was a problem the last couple of games. Play hard dude.
Andre vs. The Bear: Nurkic is really strong and cocky, he will go at Drummond on both ends and make him work and both of them are uniquely gifted with being huge guys who move way better than they have any right to. Should be a fun matchup to watch.
Pistons vs. Guarding Gallo: He will get time at both forward spots so all 3 of Tobias, Morris, and Stanley, with possibly even little Jon Leuer will get cracks at Gallo and they will need to keep him under wraps. When the Nuggets offense gets in a bind, he is the one they lean on to bail them out and he is the best chance to get points consistently against the Pistons defense.
Will Barton: I have an irrational fear of Will Barton. He may not even play, but if he does, hope he doesn't catch fire, because he is the sort of guy that becomes Portugas D. Ace when he catches fire.
Pistons vs. Not killing the good vibes: If the Pistons win this game, they had off onto a long road trip at 4-2 and will have won all 4 games you would really hope they win. (the Nets loss is tough but back to back and travel can do that) If the Pistons win they have a lot of nice vibes and positivity around the team. If they lose then they have lost 2 straight to teams that should be worse and the outlook is worse. This doesn't really matter that much, but hey, good vibes are good.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre got SVG's message, and freaking murders the Nuggets. (plz)
Gallo is not getting foul calls.
Mudiay appears to forget which team he is playing for with all the bad passes he throws.
Run for the hills if:
Will Barton starts hitting absurd shots.
Gallo starts hitting absurd shots.
The Pistons struggle to match the size of the Jokic/Nurkic frontcourt. (Tobias has to take one of them.)
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre responds and has a really good game.
Tobias Harris roasts a somewhat squishy defense.
Andre and Nurkic posterize each other once each and many Bosnian swear words are uttered.
Pistons ride a big game from Andre and solid performances from everyone else to withstand an onslaught from Barton to win a close game.
What do you think? Will either Gallo or Barton go off? Will Andre respond?