Tonight the Pistons will begin a 4 game west coast swing, starting with a game in LA against the Clippers tonight at 10:30pm EST. (RIP sleep) The Pistons are on one days rest following a win over the Nuggets, and the Clippers are also on one days rest after a win over the Spurs.
The Clippers are very good, this is not exactly news, but still. They have come out of the gate a little bit slow on offense with an offensive efficiency of just 101.4 but it is safe to assume that that number will climb, (and FWIW, that is still a decent number) but for now, they are absolutely clobbering people on defense with a defensive efficiency of 90.7, which is an excellent mark. Chris Paul is still the Point God, passing the ball with incredible effectiveness and scoring efficiently. Blake Griffin is healthy and doing his all around game that is so effective, although his early season forays into 3 point shooting has gone poorly so far. DeAndre Jordan is still chugging as a excellent defensive anchor along with rebounding and dunking home passes from Paul and Griffin. Jamal Crawford is still coming off the bench, and has shot like crap so far which means he will probably score like 50 points tonight because that is what he does. JJ Redick is still an excellent shooter who runs around screens the entire damn game, Marreese Speights has joined the team and is chucking like crazy, and actually doing a pretty good job of it right now. Austin Rivers is off the bench as a solid backup guard who can defend and score a bit, Raymond Felton is not all that good at anything but he can still play a bit. Wesley Johnson and Luc Mbah a Mute are the pair of wing players that the Clippers are hoping can work out as decent role players, and neither of them really have so far.
This team is largely the same as they have been the last several years, and they are still very good. If they do manage to get a reliable wing player to be their 5th starter, whether that is someone on the roster now or a trade or a signing, they have as good a chance as anyone to knock off the Warriors in the West, even without that they have a chance.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons Defense vs. A really good offense: The Pistons have put up excellent defensive performances against the Bucks, Magic, Knicks, and Nuggets. Other than the Nuggets, those are not exactly offensive powerhouses, and even the Nuggets are not that good. Tonight will be a good test for the Pistons in seeing how their defense holds up against a truly high level offensive attack.
Drummond vs. Jordan: Jordan does less for the Clippers than Andre does for the Pistons, but these are still 2 elite rebounders and athletes who's game is dominating the paint. Toss in the fact that they have been 1 and 2 in rebounding the past couple of years and there is a little extra something to this matchup.
Tobias (and others) vs. Blake Griffin: Tobias Harris will get the bulk of this matchup, with Jon Leuer getting some time as well, and possibly others filling in. Blake Griffin is absurdly good, and he is in that gap the Pistons have in that he is too big for KCP and not a center for Andre to take, Tobias has been rock solid so far on defense but this will be a good test for him. When Jon Leuer guards Griffin though, pray for him.
KCP vs. Redick: Redick is the sort of player that sometimes gives KCP trouble as his game is almost entirely off ball, causing KCP to have to run around screens constantly and take good, smart paths around the court, which is KCP's one small chink in his defensive game. KCP has got to stick with Redick because he needs very little space to burry shots. Hopefully KCP can keep up his smart offensive play and get some back as well.
Me vs. Irrational fear of Jamal Crawford: He is old, and is fairly objectively not all that good anymore, but Jamal Crawford scares me. He torched the Pistons last year as well so there's that. Hopefully he doesn't decide to come out of his slump tonight.
Chris Paul: This isn't really a matchup, Ish won't hold him down much because CP3 is too good, for that, but just watch Chris Paul, he's so good.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre is taking it too Jordan on both ends.
Tobias' defensive improvement is complete and he can stick with Griffin.
“HERE COMES AUSTIN RIVERS!”
Run for the hills if:
It becomes clear very quickly that Tobias has no chance against Grififn.
Jamal Crawford starts hitting shots.
CP3 is picking apart the Pistons at every turn.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre has another excellent game.
Griffin scores 27 points, but not too efficiently.
Jamal Crawford scores a billion points.
Pistons get good games from Andre and one of Mobias to keep in the game, and in the 2nd half when the bench mobs are in the Pistons go on a run and are able to hold on for a close win.
What do you think? Will Griffin slaughter the Pistons? Can we have a “Afraid of Jamal Crawford” therapy group?