Tonight the Pistons will be playing against the Knicks at 7:00pm est. at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons are on the second night of a back to back after losing to the Celtics last night, and the Knicks are on one days rest following a loss to, the Celtics. This game is going to be nationally televised on TNT.
The Them: The Knicks are a mediocre team. They are not bad, but they are not very good. Their OffRtg. checks in at a very solid 102.0 and their DefRtg. checks in at a very bad 104.4. Carmelo Anthony is still the primary man in the offense scoring 21.4ppg and he is throwing 4 assists per game as well. Anthony is still doing his thing getting buckets in all sorts of ways and his defense is not all that bad. Arron Afflalo has been having a really solid season scoring an efficient 14 points per game and he has been posting up a ton this season. (thanks to the triangle offense.) Kristaps Porzingis has yet to cool off in any significant way, still scoring just under 14 points per game on respectable shooting, and his defense is, at times, very impressive. Robin Lopez holds down the center spot for the Knicks and he is still doing his thing playing solid defense, rebounding, and setting screens. Beyond those 4 though, things get a bit bleak. Langston Galloway is starting at PG now and he is doing an ok job, but you only need to look at how many Knicks fans have proposed a Jennings trade to know how their Point Guards have been doing. Lance Thomas is actually looking like a solid player but he still does not play a whole lot. Derrick Williams has done a pretty decent job as a 6th man type, attacking the rim with abandon and running the bench. Kyle O'Quinn is a really solid backup center who showed his shooting ability off last time the Pistons played the Knicks. Jose Calderon could be a potato at this point and no one would even notice, and Jerain Grant may or may not actually be an NBA player. All in all, this is a similar story to the Blazers, it is Carmelo Anthony and his merry men. They play hard and are pesky, and are capable of playing with anyone. But the reality is that they are still not all that good.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Lopez: Andre is a lot better than Lopez is, by almost any standard. But Lopez will be essentially tasked with the sole purpose of trying to keep Andre in check. Lopez is very fundamentally sound and is big. So Andre will have to be on his toes and keep his head on a swivel or he will find himself being boxed out a long ways from the hoop every possession. That said, it will probably open up rebounding opportunities for other guys so watch for Ersan/Morris to crash the boards a bit.
Melo vs. Morris: Morris is like a (much) worse version of Melo. They go head to head tonight and it was actually a pretty entertaining matchup last time they met. They both like to go iso in the midrange and get physical on their way there. If Morris can play some of his oddly effective 1 on 1 defense to good effect on Melo then the Pistons will have a big leg up on the Knicks.
Reggie Jackson vs. Literal Feces: The Knicks have really bad PGs. In theory Jackson should be able to eat them up on both ends of the floor, I say in theory because he is not 100% so maybe he will not really go off, but he still might. Jackson is just straight up a lot better than whatever the Knicks put against him.
Pistons vs. No KCP: KCP is currently listed as a game time decision (which is very good because even if he misses 1 or 2 games, it means he is almost certainly not going to miss many. Which would have been a real issue.) but the general feeling around it is that he will not play tonight. Stanley Johnson could be able to bring similar value to the Pistons but they can't play the exact same way they do with KCP because Johnson is very different. One positive is that if KCP were to miss a game, the Knicks would be the one to miss. The Knicks PGs are so bad that it would be a waste of KCP to use him there, and Afflalo posts up so much now that Johnson might actually be a better matchup to defend him. Still though, KCP has started every single game since the start of last season, so this will be new territory for the Pistons.
Baynes vs. O'Quinn: O'Quinn went off for a really good game last time these teams met. Baynes is also capable of doing that. Hopefully Baynes can flip the script tonight.
So in conclusion....
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Jackson is getting into the paint at will and smothering the Knick PGs on defense.
Morris can manage to pull out one of his random awesome games and plays Melo even.
Johnson is super comfortable in the starting lineup and the crazy size suddenly present in the starters is giving lots of issue for the Knicks.
Jose Calderon is actually a potato.
Run for the hills if:
It turns out KCP is going to miss more than a week.
Melo is on fire.
Kristaps is sprinting towards the rim un-boxed out when someone shoots.
Darrun Hilliard is not actually good.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Jackson scores 30 points.
Lopez gives Andre fits but by the end of the game Andre is fully in control.
Stanley Johnson plays really well.
The Pistons ride Jackson to a solid win.
Game has a few fun variables to it, and everyone on the Pistons should have a little extra pep in their steps due to being on TNT and in the garden. Should be fun.
What do you think? Think Stanley will do ok? Let me know! We all get smarter!
To my Grand Rapids peeps: I'm going to be at Bdubs tonight on 28th street between Kalamazoo and Breton. I won't be there till a like 8 probably but I'll have on a Pistons stocking hat and probably a Reggie Jackson jersey. Come say hi!