Well. I'm back. I hope you did not miss me too much. On Sunday night for the first time this season I purposefully did not watch a Pistons game. It was weird and I was mostly kind of antsy about it but I went to my Brother's and played a lot of video games and ate a lot of Pizza so it was still good. Regardless, on with the post.
Tonight the Pistons will be in Dallas to play the Mavericks for the first time this season at 8:30pm est. Both teams are on two days rest, the Pistons coming off of a win and the Mavs coming off of a loss to the Clippers.
The them: The Mavs are, for like the 5th straight year, largely a collection of veteran castoff surronding Dirk Nowitzki on the floor and Rick Carlslisle off it. It is absurd how good Dirk is, he is freaking 37 and the best player on a playoff team still. His shooting and ability to pull opposing bigs out of the paint is one of the keys to the Mavs very solid offense and boasting a OffRtg. of 104.5. On the other end however, he has no such super powers, and combined with frontcourt partners such as Zaza Pachulia, and a PG rotation of Deron Williams, JJ Barea, and Ray Felton has resulted in them being a pretty miserable defensive team, with a DefRtg. of 104. Beyond Dirk, Deron Williams is not exactly having a comeback year in the sense some people had hoped, but he is playing pretty solid ball and is generally pretty solid PG. Zaza Pachulia is not exactly good at anything, but he plays hard, gets boards, and is a pretty capable passer and shooter from the center position. He is not that far away from, say, Aron Baynes. Off the bench JJ Barea is still tiny and yet still oddly effective as a scorer running around picks from Dirk. Ray Felton occasionally does good things. David Lee is new to town but is actually looking really solid, throwing nice passes, finishing inside, and playing bad defense. Javale Mcgee is a large human being. Dwight Powell occasionally does good things like dunking. And Devin Harris is still a useful combo guard off the bench. Charlie Villanueva might even make a appearance to chuck a few shots. HOWEVA, just like everyone else it seems, I have not even mentioned the pair of young and all around talented wings the Mavs have. Neither Chandler Parsons or Wes Matthews have really been 100% this season, but they are a big part of the Mavs surprising place in the center of the West's playoff race. Both of them are all around players who have no real weaknesses in their games. All that stuff I have said makes me excited for the Morris/Harris combo is true of these two. And they deserve some more credit. Regardless, this is a team full of veterans and a strong core of Dirk, Parsons, and Matthews. Even if they are not a great team, they are a real solid one.
Matchups to watch:
Morrs/Harris vs. Dirk: This is going to be really hard for whichever guy gets him. I'm guessing SVG will put Morris on Parsons and give Dirk to Harris. But Dirk is still one of the toughest guards in basketball and is the Mavs best player. It will be important to try and keep him held down a bit.
Andre vs. Everybody: The Mavs don't really have anyone who figures to stand much chance against Andre. Pachulia is tough as nails and a good rebounder but he is probably not really on Andre's level. And other than him it only gets bleaker for the Mavs. Simply put, Andre needs to punish them. Because the Mavs have a lot of things to give the Pistons trouble, and if Andre is not killing the Mavs inside it could mean trouble for the Pistons.
KCP vs. Matthews: Wes Matthews is big, strong, and not afraid to use it. These guys have given serious trouble to KCP. And if KCP is not killing it on defense he becomes a much less useful player. Hopefully KCP can dig deep/Matthews just has a bad night.
Bench vs. Not death: Propped up largely by Reggie Bullock finally finding a hot shooting streak. The bench has managed to survive the loss of (probably) it's 3 most consistent producers, obviously Jennings is not coming back, but both Tolly and Johnson are still apparently a ways out yet. And as much as I truly do believe in Reggie Bullock and using Marcus Morris as the essential PG with the bench (I have been in favor of both pretty much all season) it is an uneasy feeling to think about a team in the middle of a playoff race is relying on Reggie Bullock to give really good minutes. So hopefully they can keep it up for a little longer.
Reggie vs. Potatos: Deron Williams is not horrible, but none of the Mavs PGs are very good defenders. And they also are hugely lacking in rim protection. This should figure to be a very healthy combination for Reggie Jacksons statistical totals. So in conclusion...
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Reggie Bullock keeps hitting every shot he sees.
Reggie Jackson is in the paint every single possession.
The Mavs have no one capable of competing with Andre in any phase of the game.
Run for the hills if:
Dirk is just shooting over fools over and over again.
Zaza uses his toughness to really bother Andre.
The dream is over and Reggie Bullock actually sucks.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Both Andre and Reggie have field days against weak opposition.
Reggie Bullock is actually good.
One of Parsons/Matthews/Dirk has a really big game.
Pistons ride their two best players to a comfortable win to start off the road trip.
The Mavs are a fun team, so this should be a fun game. And enjoy Dirk while he is here, because at some point he will be gone, and the NBA will be worse for it.
What do you think? Is Reggie Bullock actually good? Let me know! We all get smarter!