Tonight the Pistons will be in New Orleans to play against the Pelicans at 8:00pm est. The Pellies are on one days rest following a victory against the Timberwolves on Tuesday, and the Pistons are going to be on the second night of a back to back following a victory against the Rockets.
The Them: The Pellies got off to a miserable start to the year due to having like, maybe, 2 NBA quality players on their team that were healthy. Since a horrid start and getting a little bit healthier they have played better basketball, but even so they have not exactly been tearing it up. On the year they have a pretty healthy OffRtg of 102.3 but their DefRtg has been, um, not so good. 106.4 is miserable so to say they have been a poor defensive team this year would be an understatement, and the reality is that, while it has improved since getting healthier, not by a large amount. A lot of attention has gone to the Bucks and Rockets being dissapointing so far this year, given the fact that Anthony Davis was going to win MVP and the Pellies were going to take the next step to true contenders and Alvin Gentry was coach of the year. Aaannnnnd nope that has not happened, and just shows how often things go very differently from how you might think. The Pellies obviously start and end with Anthony Davis, he leads the team in scoring at 23.1 and while his efficiency is a little bit down, it is still very solid. He also is a very good defender, sort of like a skinnier (and better) version of Andre Drummond on defense where he is a potentially fearsome rim protector and also can go out and defend guys on the perimeter. Everyone's favorite target for the offseason, Ryan Anderson comes off the bench as a 6th man type and he can really score, shoot, and play bad defense. Tyreke Evans is a bulldog going to the hoop and also has been able to find a certain amount of shooting from deep, and while I would want to see more it before deeming his shot "fixed." Jrue Holiday has finally been (mostly) healthy and is playing very solid basketball on both ends, if his defense is not quite his usual excellency. And Omer Asik is basically dead at this point, he can't score, he is not doing really anything very well actually. Due to Eric Gordon being hurt Dante Cunningham is the expect starter tonight and he is a, pretty competent 3 and D type of player. 2 time NBA champion Norris Cole is still doing his thing as a good backup PG. Also off the bench is Alexis Ajinca and he is freaking huge. Overall this team is still a bit of a mish mash of a team due to the injuries and they are definitely better than their record but until they get a extended stretch with their actual roster they will probably still be mediocre.
Matchups to watch:
Drummond vs. Davis: I don't know for sure how often they will actually go up against each other due to Davis often playing PF but they will go against each other some. But mostly, both are their team's best players. Both are young bigs who are super exciting to watch, and once again, they should find each other going 1 on 1 at least a few times. If so, Davis has the shooting touch to give Andre trouble by pulling him away from the hoop, but Andre is much stronger than Davis so he should win the battles at the hoop.
Pistons vs. Guarding Davis: Anthony Davis is a really good player, and he plays PF which would suggest that Ersan/Tolly would get the bulk of the time on him. This would figure to bode poorly for the Pistons (especially with Ersan) and I'm actually curious if SVG will hid Ersan on the (largely) useless Asik (for the little time Asik plays) and stick Andre on Davis for most of the game. Which I would be rooting for just to see Davis and Andre go at it. But either way, the Pistons will have to find a way to keep him under wraps.
Greater Morris vs. Good matchups: The Pelicans will be running a few iffy defenders out at the SF position, and Greater Morris finds great joy taking advantage of those matchups, he could be in for a good night.
Andre vs. Free Throws: I think Andre's free throws may have killed my Grandpa. Andre, I have 2 more grandparents left, please don't do that again.
Reggie Jackson vs. Soft defense: Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis are both very hard opponents to be going up against for Jackson (in the PnR) but the Pellies don't play much defense, and Reggie has a way of massacring teams that play soft defense.
So in conclusion
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre is bullying Anthony Davis into a pulp on the inside right from the get go.
The Pelicans play the defense they have for most of the year.
Omer Asik literally shrivels up and dies on the court.
Run for the hills if:
Anthony Davis is destroying everyone who the Pistons throw at him, even Andre.
Tyreke Evans is a bull in the Pistons defensive China shop.
The Pellies foul Andre.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre guards Davis for most of the game and does a really good job. And it is an excellent and epic clash of elite players.
Greater Morris has a field day.
Tyreke Evans gives the Pistons a lot of trouble.
The Pistons win the game with a fair margin. And Drummond and Davis have an epic duel.
Davis vs. Drummond. This is the reason to watch this. It should be oodles of fun.
P.S. I am, by my own admission, not an overly emotional person. Which is neither good nor bad, it just is. I have a very big family of wonderful people and I will be doing just fine. HOWEVA, thank you all very much for all of the kind words. When I set out to do these posts one goal was to try and help foster some real smart and level headed basketball conversations, with the goal of that (hopefully) in a year or 2 when the Pistons become an real contender, this sub would have a foundation and culture of level headed and smart fans who are capable of actually talking about things without getting pissed. So that when the inevitable bandwagoners arrive there will be the sort of culture to keep the sub from devolving. And I have been hugely impressed by the response. Ya'll are the best. Thank you all very much.
P.P.S. To any people in GR, I'm going to be watching the game over at the Buffalo Wild Wings on 28th street. (Between Kalamazoo and Breton) And if anyone is there you should come say hi.