It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Today: He was not a perfect man, there is no such thing, but everyone should watch his speech on this day.
The Pistons play the Bulls at 3:30EST this afternoon at the Palace of Auburn Hills. I am guessing that they decided to put the game so early in order to compensate for the fact that it will go 10 overtimes lol. The Bulls are coming in on 2 days rest following a loss to the Mavericks last Friday, and the Pistons are on one day rest following a win against the Warriors on Saturday.
Previously against the Bulls.(The Viking Epic.)
The Them: The Bulls are a very solid team, but the reality is that they have not lived up to the expectation of being the best threat to Cleveland in the east so far this year. Their record is solid but by most metrics they are not any better than any other team in the brawl of the Eastern conference playoff race. Their OffRtg. of 100.9 is very pedestrian, and their DefRtg. is a very good 99.7, which comes out to a NetRtg. of 1.1. (All of those numbers are very similar to the Pistons, although the Pistons come out slightly better.) At this point there is no argument for who the Bulls best player is, Jimmy Butler is scoring 22.6ppg on very solid efficiency to go along with 4 assists per game, as well as taking the most shots on the team. Butler can score in a variety of ways, but is best going to the hoop where he uses his size to overpower opponents and draw lots of fouls. Pau Gasol is still a hugely skilled offensive player who can score in a variety of ways and an excellent passer, but the reality is that his defense is not good at all, and his 10.8 rebounds per game are pretty empty. Derrick Rose has perked up a bit as of late but is still scoring just 14ppg and he is doing it hugely inefficiently. Nikola Mirotic has found some better shooting from outside, but is shooting miserably inside the arc, and does at least 1 super dumb play per game it seems. Tony Snell is the probably starter at SF (they have switched the lineup a few times) and he is, just not that good really, but does show flashes of being a good player. Off the bench Joakim Noah is out which is a big blow to the Bulls defense. Taj Gibson is still doing his thing as a hard nosed inside scorer, rebounder, and defender. Aaron Brooks can score in bunches. Doug McDermott has generally looked like the shooting spacing offensive player the Bulls hoped for (even if he is not much good on defense.). E'Twaun Moore is a useful player who can do a little bit of everything, and Bobby Portis is an interesting piece who is big, and appears to have some real skills, but it is too early to say much definitively about him. In the end this is a Bulls team that is not all that different from what the team has been the past several years, they are just a little less so. Like Thibs era lite. They are not as excellent on defense, but they are also not quite as lost on offense. Without Noah they have a big hole defensively, as now they have Taj Gibson as their only Big who is a defensive plus. (Bobby Portis might be ok, but once again, he's a rookie, rookies generally are not good defenders.) In the end they come out to be very evenly matched with the Pistons, and that is evidenced by how close the past 2 meetings this year have been.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Defending Jimmy Butler: Jimmy Butler is a freaking terror, there is no other way to put it. And while he does play SG, he is a lot bigger than KCP. The Pistons do not have a good matchup for him and that is what he thrives on. The Pistons will have to find a way to contain him.
Andre vs. Everyone: You know this drill by now. Andre is a monster and the Pistons best player, and the Bulls have to find a way to contain him. And that becomes much more difficult without Noah around. Pau Gasol has been largely unable to stop Andre in the previous meetings, and once again, at this point he is really the only option. The Bulls are a hard nosed team who will bang with Andre down low, but I would figure him to have yet another huge game against Pau.
Bench vs. Eternal Sadness: Brandon Jennings has been a godsend for the Pistons bench, and since his return the bench suddenly became a fastbreaking 3 point bombing machine that destroyed opposing benches. Even if Steve Blake continues to hit every 3 he takes, he is no where near as good as Jennings is. With Jennings the Pistons are so much better, so hopefully he plays.
Bulls vs. Greater Morris: The Bulls have had some issues guarding him, and Tony Snell has pretty clearly shown he has no chance against Morris. So the Bulls will almost certainly need something else to hold down Morris.
Pistons vs. Foul trouble: Last time against the Bulls the Pistons had some foul trouble, so hopefully they can avoid that this time lol.
So in conclusion
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre takes Gasol behind the opera stage and has his way with him.
Derrick Rose is bricking jumpers all over.
Jimmy Butler is not scoring every time he touches the ball.
Tony Snell tries to guard Morris.
It goes to overtime.
Run for the Hills if:
The bulls find a way to contain Andre.
Steve Blake has to play and the bench dies.
Pistons have a clear letdown game after a great win against the Warriors.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre does in fact have another huge game.
Marcus Morris guards Jimmy Butler most of the game and does a decent job.
Derrick Rose has a big game.
Pistons win the game in 23 overtimes on the back of SVG putting on a jersey and playing one on one with Fred Hoidberg after all the other players have fouled out and SVG puts on a clinic and destroys him.
These teams are very closely matched. There is a reason the other 2 games have been so close. Not having Noah to try and combat Andre should worry Bulls fans, and trying to guard Jimmy Butler should worry Pistons fans.
What do you think? Think SVG will beat Hoidberg in the 1 on 1? Let me know! We all get smarter!
P.S. I am currently working on a post on how the Pistons demolished the Warriors + a look at the Drummond effect. It has pictures in it. Lots of them.