Tonight the Pistons will host Dallas at the Palace of Auburn Hills at 7:30pm EST. The Pistons are on 2 days rest following a win and the Mavs are on one days rest following a win over the Knicks. Both teams are in the thick of a playoff race.
The Them: The Mavs are an unkillable machine of Dirk and Rick. Despite everything that has happened to the team, they can flat out score, with their OffRtg. of 104.9. HOWEVA, they also flat out can't stop other people from scoring, with a DefRtg. of 104.8. Chandler Parsons is out so he is not a worry to the Pistons. Dirk might have overtaken Tim Duncan for the title of "How is he this good at his age?" champion, still averaging a super efficient 18.5ppg, and he is playing more center than he has in the past. He admittedly can't really defend at this point though. Deron Williams has not exactly revived his career in the way some thought he might, but he has generally been a totally servicable starting PG for the Mavs. (though he missed the last game due to injury, I don't know if he will play against the Pistons or not) Wes Mathews has not really been able to get fully into the swing of things coming off his injury, but even in his slightly weakened state (which FWIW, has improved as the season has gone on I would say) he is still one of the better 3 and D types in the NBA. JJ Barea is still tiny and running all over the place and jacking improbable shots, Raymond Felton is still kind of fat. Since joining the team, David Lee has been a really solid piece, he can't really defend still but he is scoring, passing, and rebounding at a solid clip off the bench. Zaza Pachulia is a bastard who tries to hurt people. Devin Harris is still chugging along as a solid combo guard who can score a little bit. Dwight Powell might be ok as a center, and has at least some shooting range. Justin Anderson plays, but honestly, I can't really think of much he does that stands out. He just kind of is. As long as Dirk is around, this team will be able to score. That's just the reality. HOWEVA, they don't have a ton of depth, and they don't have much defense. If they can manage to keep a game close they are potentially scary due to them having Dirk. On top of all of this, they are even more in the thick of a playoff race than the Pistons so they should be playing with some desperation.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Everybody: The main guys Andre will be dealing with are Powell, Zaza, and Dirk. Zaza is a tough rebounder, but none of those guys really should have much chance at hanging with Andre. The reality is that they are often almost comically weak on the inside, which means that this should be a game that Andre can have a big impact on.
Mobiasvs. Dirk: Dirk is really good, and whichever guy ends up with the majority of time guarding him (probably Morris) will have a really hard time with it. They need to keep him under wraps in some way, and then flip it around and hurt him on the other end. And Justin Anderson is at the other Forward spot. If they can defend Dirk with some decency the forward battle could shift in the Pistons favor in a BIG way. Mobias essentially beat the Thunder on their own, and they might be able to do it again.
Reggie vs. Dumbassery: I am not referring to his celebration. I don't care about that. (Although it was a little bit petty, but it doesn't really matter) He played like crap in the last game. It was almost certainly due to him trying to do stupid stuff to show off to his old team. It better have been at least, because the Pistons won't win much with him doing that kind of crap.
KCP vs. Buffonery: Plz like, don't shoot the Pistons out of the game please.
Bench mob vs. Bench mob: Neither team has a particularly good bench, and with the potential matchup against Felton Steve Blake might not be totally overmatched. (although don't cross your fingers.) As such, the bench has a rare chance to really be a big positive for the Pistons.
Intensity: Both teams are in the thick of a playoff race. Should be an intense game with damn near playoff type atmosphere, it will be interesting to see how the hella young Pistons do with that. (Remember that KCP, Andre, and Tobias are literally playing the first meaningful NBA games of their careers.)
So in conclusion...
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre is eating the collective soul of Dallas.
No matter which one of the Mavs PGs starts, Reggie should be able to roast them.
Dirk tries to guard Tobias Harris.
Run for the hills if:
Morris guarding Dirk is a lesson in futility.
Zaza is a total punk and injures someone in order to keep the Mavs in it.
Wes Mathews can still kill people.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre has a 20/20 game (or close to it)
Reggie bounces back.
Mobias murder things.
Pistons win comfortably on the back of solid performances all around.
Should be fun, two teams with some good players and are in the thick of a playoff race.
What do you think? Is Dirk actually Germany's perfected basketball robot? Let me know! We all get smarter!
P.S. For fellow Grand Rapids/around Grand Rapids folk: Now that spring is fully upon us, me and some of my Peeps are playing some pickup ball on Sundays around 1 o clock at the courts at Forest Hills Northernand are welcome to accepting new people. We are not all that good so as long as you have basic motor functions you would do just fine. So if you want to come play some hoops, talk some hoops with me, and get a little exercise hit me up!