Tonight the Pistons will play host to the Golden State Warriors at 7:30pm EST. The Pistons are on one days rest after losing against the Grizzlies on Wednesday, the Warriors are on the second night of a back to back after beating the Nets in a closer than expected game last night.
The Warriors are absurdly good, sporting the 2nd best offense in the NBA with an offensive efficiency of 113.4, along with the 2nd best defensive efficiency at 100.4, which combines for easily the best net efficiency in basketball at +13. Kevin Durant is having a career year in pretty much every efficiency stat, scoring 25.7 points per game on 64.7% true shooting(!!!!!!!) which is absurd, and quietly people are starting to note that Kevin Durant is the Warriors best player. Steph Curry of course is still pretty absurd, scoring 24.4 points on 63.4 TS% although he is shooting just (for him at least) 39% from 3 this year. Klay Thompson is scoring 21.4 per game however he too is shooting just (once again, by his standards) 37% from 3 and is also a good defender, though not as good as the general public might have you believe. Draymond Green on the other hand is every bit as good defensively as you would hear, he is scoing just 10.7 points per game but leads the team in assists with 7.2 per game against just 2 turnovers. Andre Igoudala still comes off the bench, and he has fairly quietly not been so good this year, not bad by any means, but not as good as he had been. Zaza Pachulia is the starting center, and he is almost like a slightly better version of Aron Baynes, he sets screens, plays hard, and is a decent finisher around the hoop and has a decent mid to short range jumper. Unlike Baynes though, Pachulia actually can catch the ball. Shaun Livingston is a mis range post up artist at point guard, Ian Clark can really shoot, Patrick McCaw is a young big shooting guard who the Warriors like quite a bit and he can shoot. David West is old but he can still out tough you and hit mid range jumpers.
The Warriors are thin up front, but they are so absurdly good everywhere else that it doesn't even matter. They pass, shoot, and play defense like crazy. There has been almost no challenge with inserting Kevin Durant into the team.
Matchups to watch:
Andre Drummond vs. Being the destroyer of worlds: There is literally one spot where the Pistons have any advantage in this game, and that is at center, and it is a large advantage. He also does the right stuff at center to give them trouble, particularly on the offensive glass. When the Pistons pummeled the Warriors at the Palace last year, he was integral. If the Pistons are going to have any chance in this game, Andre needs to get after it on both ends early and cause major problems.
Pistons vs. Just playing: After a bad start to the game against the Grizzlies, the Pistons pulled it together and played the way they should. The problem is that the bad start ended up costing them the game. The Pistons cannot come out flat against the Warriors or bad things will happen.
KCP vs. Steph: I have officially declared that KCP has taken a small but noticeable step back defensively this year. Tonight (and their next game against the Cavs) he has a great chance to shove that statement in my face. And the thing to note is not how many points Curry scores per say, but if KCP can keep him from doing whatever he wants. Last year the Pistons made no defensive adjustments for Steph, which meant Steph scored a lot of points. But KCP did well enough to keep him from winning it on his own. Essentially Ben Wallace vs. Shaq.
Everyone vs. Kevin Durant: Kevin Durant is so good, and there isn't anyone on the Pistons who will have much of a chance to guard him. Morris and Stanley could do respectable jobs, but both are overmatched in different ways. Tobias and Leuer will also get some time on him, neither of which are likely to go well for the Pistons.
Bench vs. Being good: In theory the Pistons have a better bench than the Warriors, the problem of course is that the Pistons will likely have one of Mobias as a holdover with the bench mob, while the Warriors will have either Steph or Durant. The bench still needs to do their thing and take advantage of the Warriors bench at any opportunity. (the problem is that it isn't like the Warriors have a bad bench though, Livingston and Iggy are both real good. It just isn't as absurd as their starters.)
Pistons vs. Good defense: The Pistons have slipped defensively lately, and if they play poor defense tonight they will get slaughtered. It is just that simple. In theory the Pistons have the right combination of length and athleticism to really muck up the Warriors beautiful passing machine, but theory and reality are pretty far from each other most of the time when it comes to trying to beat this Warriors team.
Lineup change? Jon Leuer was supposed to start the last game but got in a car crash. I haven't heard anything on SVG's front about it since, so I don't know if he is still planning on doing it or not. Will be interesting to see if he still does it and whether Morris or Tobias head to the bench.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre is dominating fools on the offensive glass.
Reggie Jackson takes full advantage of a lack of rim protection.
The Warriors look tired/uninterested on the 2nd night of a back to back with Christmas day game against the Cavs looming next.
Run for the hills if:
The Warriors are picking apart the Pistons with passing.
Andre doesn't get early offensive rebounds and the Warriors are on the fast break a lot.
The Pistons are down by 30 at the end of the first quarter.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre causes enough problems to largely keep the Warriors out of the fast break.
KCP does a really good job on Steph.
The Pistons have no real answer for Kevin Durant.
Pistons ride big games from Andre and Reggie to a close (ish) win over a somewhat uninterested Warriors team.
I know this is hard to do, and a reason why this game has come at a really bad time. But both the fans and the team need to remember just how stupidly good this Warriors team is. They are so good that if the Pistons lose by 30 it actually isn't a big deal. If they get blown out, don't overreact. It would suck, but that's just something that happens against this team.
What do you think? Can the Andre disrupt the Warriors only real weakness? Can KCP guard Steph?