Tonight the Pistons will be in Dallas to take on the Mavericks at 8:30pm EST. The Pistons are on 2 days rest after losing to the Sixers on Sunday, the Mavs are on one days rest after beating the Nuggets on Monday.
The Mavs appear to have finally died, although they are showing some signs of life as of late, as despite their (tied for league worst) record of 6-18, they are 4-5 in their last 9, even if their advanced numbers havn't made big improvements in that time.
Harrison Barnes is a stud, and is proving a lot of people wrong so far this year, scoring 20.5 points per game on largely isolation scoring and doing it pretty efficiently as well. He has a wide variety of ways to hurt you and makes pretty good use of all his tools. Wes Matthews has rebounded after a miserable start and is starting to really look like himself again as his 3 point percentage has crept above 40% on over 8 attempts per game (although he is still struggling to score inside the arc) and along with Barnes, forms a very good pair of 2 way wings. Deron Williams is still a decent player who is fully capable of being a starting point guard, but he isn't anything more than that. Dirk, Barea, and Bogut are all hurt. Seth Curry has not exactly been a resounding success, but he provides some scoring punch. Devin Harris is back playing, although very little. Salah Meijri can protect the rim a bit, Dwight Powell is a athletic big (he plays some center and power forward) who plays hard, Dorian Finney-Smith is a guy I know almost nothing about because I hardly remember him from the Mavs games I've watched. I am ashamed of this, he seems mostly to be a fairly basic stretch 4 type who is pretty young.
This is a team that is not much good right now, but they are probably not as bad as their record, and probably won't be this bad all year. And even if this year is probably lost at this point (which is likely is) they do appear to have a nice base for the next couple of years with a killer wing combo of Barnes and Matthews.
Matchups to watch:
Matthews vs. KCP: Matthews has found his form a bit, and will be chucking away from deep. Not to mention that he is big and strong so he could give KCP some issues. KCP is supposedly totally fine after missing the last game, but it will be a good test of whether or not he actually is fine.
Andre vs. ….anyone: With Bogut and Dirk out, the Mavs are pretty thin up front. Andre should be able to have a really good game and that is the most likely way that the Pistons can get an easy win.
Marcus vs. Barnes: Harrison Barnes is really good, Marcus Morris will have to guard him most of the night. Marcus also has a bit of a tendency to get into isolation duels with guys, which is alright, but he needs to not get totally outplayed by Barnes.
Eyebleach: I was going to watch the last game on replay because I was busy at game time, but after watching a little bit I gave up. If the Pistons could just kill the Mavs tonight to get that Sixers game out of our minds that would be great.
Reggie vs. Not being bad: Reggie had a pretty miserable game against the Sixers, he was far from the only one, but his final stat line really stood out. He's still shaking off the rust and that's totally fine. Expected even, but that needs to look more like him scoring less than typical on less shots, not him just missing a ton of them.
SVG vs. Figuring out the backup wing minutes: Hilliard has gotten a stretch, and he has been kind of ok, but certainly not much good overall. I can see what SVG see's in Hilliard, but it just isn't there yet. Gbinije is going to be in Grand Rapids tonight, Bullock is out for another week or so, and Stanley actually played pretty well against the Sixers but SVG is not quick to pull guys out of the dog house. Regardless of what it would be (I'd prefer Stanley to get back in the rotation myself) they need to find a solution here. It is particularly distressing since the Pistons starting wings (KCP and Morris) are the 4th and 5th best starters in either order, so it is the spot where having a good backup could help the most.
So in conclusion...
Win knowingly at your friends if:
Andre has 40 rebounds by half time.
Marcus is having his random game where he is a star.
Whenever Barnes and Matthews are on the bench.
Run for the hills if:
The Mavs manage to keep Andre from dominating.
Deron Williams has one of his 5 games per year where he is awesome again.
Wes Matthews starts hitting every 3 he takes.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre is on pace for a 20/20 game but doesn't get it due to lack of minutes.
Barnes and Matthews both have really nice games, but they are the only Mavs to do so.
Reggie has a bounce back game. (he always seems to bounce back.)
Pistons ride out some hot shooting from Barnes and Matthews to pull away for a big lead and victory.
What do you think? Can the Mavs find a way to hold Andre down? Can Marcus outplay Barnes?