Tonight the Pistons will welcome the Miami Heat to the Palace at 7:30pm est. The Pistons are coming off a really bad loss to the Bucks and will hope to bounce back, while the Heat are looking to extend their winning streak to 4 games and continue their wining ways.
The Them: Before the season everyone thought that this team has a lot of good players, but most of those players are old and/or get hurt a lot. The question was never if they were good enough to be a legit good team, the question was whether they could survive the inevitable injuries coming their way. Well so far this year the Heat have been pretty much healthy, and it shows. The 9-4 record is tied for 2nd in the Eastern Conference. And that is not a joke, this team is really good. With an offensive efficiency of 102 and defensive of 94. They are a legit two way team. Especially that defense. There is no telling if the team will stay healthy all year, but right now this will be a hard win for anyone in basketball. Hassan Whiteside is a freaking monster in the middle who blocks everything that comes near him and also dunks a lot. He is a really good player when he is not doing stupid stuff. Dwyane Wade has a glorious old man game in which he still manages to score, even if he is no where near what he once was, he is still a awesome player (on both ends when he is locked in). And Chris Bosh is still one of the most underrated 2 way players in basketball. Goran Dragic is doing ok but also makes me feel a ton better about Reggie Jackson's contract. (Ok side rant here. I don't usually do this but this has drove me crazy all offseason. So many people made so much fun of the Pistons for signing Reggie Jackson to a max contract, and yet everyone loves Dragic's contract and the Heat/Pat Riley is a freaking genius. Dragic had one really good year and other than that has been a pretty solid starter other than that. And also he is going to be 33 by the time this contract is up. Don't get me wrong I love Dragic's game, he's fun. But it is pretty clear at this point that he is no where near as good as Jackson and is being paid slightly more(!) and yet people think the Pistons are stupid and the Heat are genius. sorry. Rant over) Justice Winslow is overrated but he is good for a rookie in that he generally does good things more often than he does bad things. Loul Deng is not as good as he used to be but he is still a really good 2 way wing player. And Josh Mcroberts is on this team and I like him. All in all this team is a bit of a goofy roster, but it works because almost every guy is a good defender, they have a really good coach, and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are still awesome. And a lot of that credit goes to Bosh. This team is good, and until some of the expected injury troubles come, this team will be on the second tier of contenders in the conference. Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Whiteside: This is pretty obvious. (outside of boogie) These are the 2 premier young bigs in basketball. And they both are athletic freaks who are very important to their teams respective success. Andre has allegedly had a respiratory infection the past couple games and has been noticeably a bit off, but looked better against the Bucks early in the game at least. Assuming he is at full health it will be a really interesting matchup, because these two are really the only two guys who figure to be able to really compete athletically with each other. And Whiteside is taller/longer, but Andre is bigger and stronger. So it will be interesting. (once again assuming Andre is not sick anymore) I would assume Andre will do well on the boards because he is so much bigger than Whiteside, but Whiteside will probably have a poster block/dunk on Drummond. One thing to watch though is that Whiteside still has a bit of an issue with picking up stupid fouls from time to time. And also does not have the best temper. If Drummond is beating him up under the hoop for rebounds there is potential for Whiteside to lose his cool to some extent. (Whiteside does not foul a ton, he actually has a decent foul rate for a rim protector. He just does stupid stuff sometimes.) Anyways, this will be a fun matchup if Andre is 100%. Two hyper athletes going at it.
KCP vs. Old man Wade: Wade is really strong and really crafty, and I specifically remember that he gave KCP such trouble in a game last year (the one where Reggie went off and lead the team in a comeback) that Tayshaun Prince ended up guarding Wade down the stretch. Wade is exactly the sort of guy who on paper should give KCP some trouble. And it is important to remember that KCP being able to pretty well shut down opposing SGs is important for the Pistons. It will also be important for KCP to avoid fouls. Because there is no one to back him up really. And IF Wade is really giving it to him, KCP needs to be able to take advantage of a criminally lazy Wade in transition/rebounds. KCP has a good chance to have a good offensive game because of this, and if he can keep Wade from going off he could actually win the matchup against the Heat's best player.
Chris Bosh vs. Uh oh: Here we are again, the big hole on the Pistons. Too big for KCP, and not a center for Drummond to take. Ersan/Morris might do ok because Bosh is not a big strong guy, but Ersan in particular has a ton of trouble with guys who can shoot. Because he struggles to close out under control. And if you close too hard on Bosh he will absolutely kill you. Although I actually think Morris might have a decent chance to stand up against him. He has done better defending PFs this year than I thought he would. But either way, Chris Bosh is really good, and neither of our forwards are that good on D. So this might be a real issue.
Jackson vs. Dragic: I think Jackson is miles better than Dragic. Actually there is really not much argument for anything else at this point. But both of them are fast, and love to run. As such there should be at least a few fun footraces between the two.
Johnson vs. Winslow: This is really just because of the draft. Picked almost one after the other (lulz Charlotte) and they play the same position, and have pretty similar games, hairstyles, and are friends. HOWEVA if you spend much time on /r/nbaor listening to talk radio, you might believe that Winslow is some destroyer of worlds who is the best thing since sliced bread and HOW ON EARTH DID HE FALL TO THE HEAT?? He is good for a rookie don't get me wrong, (and has been better than Johnson for sure so far) but he is not crazy. Winslow averages 7 points per game in almost 30 minutes. And he can't shoot from outside much. But anyways, both will probably bring a little extra fire when they are going against each other, and I hope the coaches let them each go one on one a couple times just because it would be fun.
Bench vs. Eternal Sadness: Please don't suck. They actually put in a couple not to horrible games the past two. But seriously, hit some freaking shots please.
So in conclusion
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre is owning the boards and Whiteside losses his head and gets a flagrant or something like that.
Andre looks healthy.
KCP keeps Wade under control and also gets several transition buckets.
Other people finally see how stupid it is that Dragic makes the same amount of money as Reggie.
Run for the hills if:
Andre is still sick and Whiteside is blocking his shit all the time and Drummond starts to sulk a bit. (which he still does occasionally)
Wade's old man game is killing KCP and putting him into foul trouble leaving either Hilliard or Bullock to try and stop him.
Dragic has a big game just to spite me.
The Pistons have no answer for Chris Bosh.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre gets blocked a couple times but gets fired up and by the end of the game is thoroughly dominating the game inside.
KCP gets massacred by old man Wade.
Reggie destroys Dragic's soul.
The Pistons come out firing after being torn a new one after the last game, win a close game with Bosh and Wade carrying the Heat.
So the last game is something that is not a big deal. Every team has nights like that. It becomes an issue if it happens again. If the Pistons bounce back and win tonight then no worries. Although if Andre is still not 100% that changes things a bit. Whiteside/Drummond should be fun, and I personally love Chris Bosh so I always enjoy watching him. Should be a good game, but if the Pistons get blown out again we can start to think about worrying. (although once again, if Andre is still sick that changes things a bit.)
What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!