Tonight at 7:30pm EST. the Pistons will welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to the Palace. The Pistons are on one days rest after getting killed by the Bulls on Monday, and the Grizzlies are on the 2nd night of a back to back after losing to the Celtics last night.
The Grizzlies are still doing their thing. They are basically the anti-Jazz, with an old roster, bad advanced stats, and no hype around them, they just keep on winning. Their defense is the best in basketball with an efficiency of 99.6, and their offense is pretty miserable at 99.0. And yes, that means they have a net negative, and yet they still are 18-12. They are lead into battle by Marc Gasol who is scoring 19.5 points per game and shooting the ball very well from deep. Gasol also can pass the ball and anchors the defense. Mike Conley is pretty much at full health and he is still really good, scoring 18.4 points and dishing 5.8 assists per game, and e is also a very good defender. His speed with the ball in his hands is spectacular. JaMychal Green is really looking like a solid player who is mostly a hustle guy who is a good athlete. Tony Allen is still playing awesome defense and missing layups. James Ennis is similar to Green at the other forward spot in that he is mostly a hustle guy. Andrew Harrison keeps getting minutes but it isn't clear whether or not he is actually any good at all, Vince Carter is old as dirt and yet still a good 3 and D type of guy. Troy Daniels can shoot 3s. Zach Randolph is coming off the bench these days but he is still a very effective offensive player and rebounder. And Chandler Parsons is expected to return to the lineup tonight although I would guess he would be on some sort of minutes restriction.
This is a team that plays defense and ekes out points, and basically does not beat themselves down the stretch. And that is how they are able to win so many close games.
Matchups to watch:
The Pistons vs. Sucking it up: So there has been this whole deal with all sorts of crap going on. The positive from it is that we have gotten some excellent SVG rants. It is clear that SVG is not having any of this crap, and he shouldn't. The Pistons are 14-16, it isn't a big deal. If it wasn't for the way they had played in the last few I wouldn't even be worried. They need to just freaking play.
SVG vs. Lineup change: SVG has guaranteed a lineup change for tonight. What the change ends up being will say a lot about where SVG thinks the team is. If he is making the change purely because he wants to try and find a new starting lineup for the rest of the year, then Jon Leuer replacing one of Tobias or Morris (probably Morris) is what will happen. HOWEVA, if SVG is jus trying to send a message for one game then he could start all bench guys. It'll probably be Leuer for Morris though. And the rest of this recap will be assuming Leuer is in the starting lineup.
Andre vs. Marc Gasol: Marc Gasol is Memphis' best player, Andre Drummond is the Pistons best player. They both play center, and they both play it totally differently. Gasol is a good enough shooter that Andre should be given full leash to cover him on the perimeter so it should be fun to watch. Andre definitely has athleticism advantage on Gasol though.
Starting Lineup with Leuer: Once again, if SVG does something else then this point is moot. But no matter which of Mobias he replaces, it will be a change. Not a huge one since either version of that lineup has gotten plenty of minutes this year, but it will be an adjustment.
Pistons bench vs. Getting their job done: The Grizzlies bench is not good. The Pistons bench has (mostly) been very good. If the Pistons want to win this game, it will likely require them to really hurt the Grizzlies when the bench mobs are on the floor.
Chandler Parsons: Parsons is expected to return tonight, and he is a good player who does some things offensively that the Grizzlies could really use. If he plays any significant minutes (even like 20) and does alright it will help them immensely.
Pistons vs. Not making everyone sad: This team needs a win, badly. Another loss and this whole mess will continue to snowball. Win a dang game and get back on track.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
SVG doesn't even make a change and he was just trolling everyone.
The Pistons are playing harder than they have all year and playing together.
The Pistons are in peak defensive form and Memphis can't score at all.
Run for the hills if:
SVG makes a change other than just Leuer. (a sign that things in the locker room are really bad)
Marc Gasol roasts Andre on both ends.
Memphis has a chance for some bullshit last second shot again.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Jon Leuer replaces Marcus Morris in the starting lineup.
Andre Drummond has 20 rebounds.
The Pistons play their best game of the year and blow out the Grizzlies.
What do you think? Can they turn it around? What lineup changes do you want?