Tomorrow night (Saturday) the Pistons will visit the Pacers to play a game at 7:00pm est. Both teams are coming in on 1 day of rest. The Pacers have lost their last 2 while the Pistons snapped a 3 game losing streak.
Previously against the Pacers.(Pacers had a real off night and Pistons got a pretty easy win.)
The Them: Despite the throttling the Pistons gave the Pacers last time out, the Pacers are still a very solid basketball team. The Pacers have a very solid offense with a OffRtg. of 102.3 and it centers around Paul George, who despite struggling a bit lately, is still obviously really good. The defense is not too strong but has a perfectly acceptable 99.3 DefRtg. The biggest change to the Pacers as of late is that Lavoy Allen has been starting over CJ Miles. Allen is not as good a scorer (and especially shooter) as Miles but is a better defender. Monta Ellis has still bizzarely not really been able to find any real footing and is averaging just 13.1ppg on not very good efficiency. George Hill is still a super solid two way PG who can score in a pinch, can shoot, and also play very good defense. And at center Ian Mahimmi is actually showing to be a really solid starting center who can play some defense, and does some decent things on offense. Off the bench is the afore mentioned CJ Miles, and Rodney Stuckey is still doing his kind of goofy but still highly effective as a bench guy. As a aside, I've got the vibe that at some point Stuckey is going to end up on a contender and be that random buy who comes off the bench and scores 15 points in a quarter in the Finals. Like I've just got that feeling, he be that guy. Jordan Hill can score pretty well but he can't really defend much. Chase Budinger does not play a ton but he can still shoot the ball. The Pacers can score with ability, and they are capable of being a very competent defensive team. By most measures they are a slightly better team than the Pistons but not by a large margin. Assuming they both stay healthy these two teams will figure to be battling together in the middle of the playoff race all year.
Matchups to watch:
- Andre vs. Everyone: Last time out Andre had a surprisingly poor game. Despite this I would still think that on paper Andre should have a good advantage. Ian Mahimmi is pretty solid, but he should not be able to really compete with Andre, and beyond him, the Pacers don't really even have another guy who is any sort of a decent guy to match up with him. As such I would expect Andre to have another really good game, but then again, who knows for sure? Maybe Ian Mahimmi is better than I give him credit for, and Frank Vogel is a very smart coach. Either way, the Pistons don't generally win when Andre has a bad game, so I would not count on it again.
- Pistons vs. Guarding Paul George: The Pistons did a really good job against George last time they played, and that was a huge factor in the win. Greater Morris did a really solid job although it really was a team effort. George has been in a bit of a spiral lately (which was started by that Pistons game actually) and the Pistons can hopefully keep him in it. But on the other hand, George is really good, and he will bust out of this slump in a big way at some point. In which case we just have to pray that it is not against the Pistons. Because Paul George is absolutely good enough to single handedly win a game.
- Brandon Jennings vs. Getting in the flow: Same as last time, Jennings has looked pretty solid in his 2 games, but for the next while it is going to be important to watch for how he looks. And SVG has said he wants to keep his minutes down for a while, but everyone in the organization is waiting to see Jennings play alongside Jackson. Probably won't happen yet but when it does happen, watch closely.
- Bench vs. Good? Jennings is back, and he has looked good. The bench had a very good game last time out as well. The simple reality is that with the players that are on the bench they figure to have a chance to suddenly be very good with a guy to really stir the pot and create shots. So it will be interesting to see if the bench mob can now become the 3 point bombing machine that they figure to have a chance to be.
So in conclusion:
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre Drummond is absolutely owning the paint all game.
Brandon Jennigns is creating lots of 3s for the bench.
Paul George is still in a funk.
Run for the hills if:
Paul George gets hot.
Michigan State infected the Pistons.
Ian Mahimmi is Andre's kryptonite.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre does have another really good game.
Paul George comes out for a better game but does not have a huge game.
Greater Morris scores a lot of points.
Pistons win a fairly close game where Jackson/Drummond take control of the game at the very end.
I've said this a lot this year, but these are 2 good teams, so it should be a good game. It will probably (mostly) come down to if Andre Drummond has a bigger game or Paul George has a bigger game.
What do you think? Think Paul George will go off? Let me know! We all get smarter!