Tomorrow (Teusday) night the Pistons will be welcoming the Spurs to the Palace of Auburn Hills to play at 7:30pm est. The Pistons are on 2 days rest following a win over the Nets, and the Spurs are on the second night of a back to back after winning tonight against, um, the Nets. Because these are the Spurs there is a very good chance that someone will sit. Since the Nets game was a blowout and guys were rested just a few games before the (expectation) is that everyone will play, but with the Spurs there is always the chance for a DNP - Old. So just keep that in mind.
The Them: While perhaps not on quite the same level as the Warriors, (FWIW I think the Spurs will be pretty clearly better by the end of the season, I don't think the Warriors will shoot this well all season, but then again it would be foolish to put a ceiling on either of these teams.) the Spurs are alongside them as a team where the only way to describe them is that they are absurdly good. Their OffRtg. is 108.4, which is good for 3rd best in the NBA. And their DefRtg. is 93.4, which is 1st in the NBA by a HUGE margin. (second is Boston at 97.9) Their NetRtg. is 15, which is a full point better than the Warriors. So yeah, the Spurs are absurdly good. Kawhi Leonard is like, really good. I can be counted among those who thought that many basketball people have grossly overrated Leonard, but this year it is hard to argue, he is scoring 20ppg on excellent efficiency, and shooting an NBA best 49%(!) from 3, to go along with his straight up crazy defense. LaMarcus Aldridge is still awesome and is scoring a very efficient 16ppg and has generally fit right in with the Spurs and their system. And while it is on less volume than in the past, Tony Parker has looked very good this year scoring just 12 points but on 52%(!) shooting. Tim Duncan is still an alien, even if he is doing a lot less than in the past, he still does good things on offense, and is a really good defender. Danny Green has not shot all that well so far this season but he still stands as one of the best 3 and D wings in the NBA. Manu Ginobli still comes off the bench and does his "creative-passy-shooty" thing. Patty Mills is a starting quality PG who gives a very different look from Parker with his excellent outside shooting. Boris Diaw is French. David West is at THE END OF THEIR FREAKING ROTATION, and is still a very solid player. And Kyle "Slow Mo" Anderson rounds out the regular rotation and he is basically a skinny Boris Diaw. Also Boban is huge and when he does happen to play he has actually been really solid. Jonathan Simmons also shows some ability when he does occasionally play. Simply put, this team is stacked. They pass the ball like maniacs and they play defense like maniacs. The spurs are a couple of things that the Pistons have not seen a whole lot of this year. 1. Unquestiably a much better team. (given the mush of the East the Cavs are the only team in the East. that falls here, and only the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder are the teams I would put in that category for sure as well.) 2. Better coached. Simply put, this team is absurdly good.
Matchups to watch:
- Andre vs. Spurs goofy lineups: In order to make space for Aldridge, the Spurs had to trade/let go of both of their normal backup centers in Tiago Splitter and Aron Baynes. (Baynes obviously came to Detroit) As a result of this, the Spurs don't really have a backup center. When Duncan is not in the game the Spurs split up the backup 5 minutes between Aldridge, West, Diaw, and occasionally Boban. And Duncan 0nly plays about 26 minutes per game, so Drummond figures to be able to get matched with a true PF. Which figures to end up hugely in favor of the Pistons. It will be interesting if Pop considers using Boban for a few actual minutes against Drummond if Andre is killing West/whoever. It will also be interesting to see how Andre does defending guys like that.
- Morris/Stanley vs. Leonard: The Pistons are hopeful Morris is able to play but if he doesn't this applies to Stanley Johnson. Kawhi Leonard is the best player on the Spurs and is an excellent player on both ends. Morris will have to be on his game on defense to hold down Leonard force him into some inefficiencies. On the other end I am actually fairly excited to see Morris try to go iso against Leonard, because I actually think that Morris is good enough to get a couple buckets. But then again Leonard might just eat his soul. Either way, Morris (or Johnson) needs to keep this matchup from going too steeply in favor of Leonard.
- Pistons vs. Good offense: i was going to put this just for Reggie to play well, but it really is on the whole team. The Spurs defense is insane. Like an NBA team has no right to play defense like that in today's NBA. They will have to be on their game if they want to score many points. The Drummond vs. Not Duncan (and even Duncan) should go the Pistons favor, and Reggie should (in theory) be able to eat up Tony parker. But the reality is that there is an excellent chance the Spurs will eat them.
- Bench vs. Finding half court offense: The New Bench gets a huge amount of it's points from having Jenings literally constantly running in the fast break. The Spurs punt on offensive rebounding in order to stop opponents from scoring in the fast break. As such the bench will likely have to find half court offense, which has not been a huge issue, but still. The biggest strength of the bench will likely be largely nullified.
- The Pistons vs. Guarding Aldridge: Ersan will not be able to handle him on his own. Simply put. It will put some stress on the Pistons defense but they need to find a way to keep him from having a big game.
So in conclusion.
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre is destroying the Spurs every moment the play a PF at C. (that includes Tim Duncan.)
The Pistons find an effective way to attack Tony Parker on defense. (literally the only weak spot)
The New Bench is able to get out and run despite the Spurs punting offensive rebounding.
Run for the Hills if:
Leonard grabs a Pistons player with his tentacles and that player is never seen again.
The Spurs defense is way to good for the Pistons offense.
Aldridge goes off for like 40 points in the first half.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre Drummond goes for a 30/30 game and the Spurs literally have no answer for him. (I'll just pretend that they won't just start fouling him. If I pretend then it won't happen.)
The Pistons are able to find Parker and other weaknesses in the Spurs defense.
The Pistons ride a historical night from Andre to a win.
The Spurs are crazy good. The Pistons are not as good but they are also pretty good. This could end up being a really good and fun game. Or the Spurs might just destroy the Pistons. Who knows.
What do you think? Think the Spurs will have an answer for Andre? Let me know! We all get smarter!