The Pistons will continue their west coast road trip tonight in Sacramento to play the Kings with tip off time at 10:30pm EST. (why did they have to do the west coast trip the week classes start?) The Pistons are on one days rest after a double overtime win over the Blazers on Sunday, while the Kings are also on one day of rest after losing to the Warriors on Sunday.
When DeMarcus Cousins is on the floor, the Kings are a fairly viable, if not much good, team that can play with most teams. When he is off the floor they plummet into comically bad. Overall they are just pretty bad with an offensive efficiency of 104.1, which is solid. Defensively however, they come in with an efficiency of 108.2, which is not as bad as the Blazers but still is really bad. They are lead by DeMarcus Cousins, who is phenomenal and one of my personal favorite players in the league which as a result of my love for him I have watched more Kings games over the last few years than I care to admit. He scores 28.1 points per game and does it the hard way while still maintaining solid efficiency, along with 9.9 boards, 3.9 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.4 steals. Boogie is insanely good. Rudy Gay recieves a lot of flak, especially on the internet, but he is still really good. Gay averages 18.7 points per game and he does it with solid efficiency, and like Cousins, he gets most of his buckets the hard way. Beyond those two it gets bleak for the Kings though, and even bleaker given that Gay is already mostly out the door. Darren Collison and Ty Lawson combine together to take point guard minutes, both are pretty good but probably not really starter level good. Garrett Temple has been a godsend to the Kings on both ends of the floor with his defensive effort and spark plug offensive game. Matt Barnes is not all that good but he is still tough as nails and can hit open 3s, Arron Afflalo is still trying to hard to be Kobe. (he isn't) Kosta Koufos is a pretty well rounded big who would start on most bad teams and be a solid backup on most good teams. Omri Caspi and Ben McLemore are in weird DNP limbo where sometimes they play a lot and other times they don't play at all, but both can do some stuff offensively though McLemore is running out of time to prove he is much of anything before his contract is up. Willie Cauley-Stein might be good, but he might not be. Anthony Tolliver is still doing his thing, playing his tail off and gunning 3s.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Cousins: Best player for each team, 2 of the best centers in the NBA. This matchup has gone a bit either way in the past and should be fun. If Andre can do a decent job of containing Cousins then the Pistons will be in business.
Jon Leuer vs. Playing: No official word yet other than that it didn't look too serious after some x-rays. Obviously though he is an important player for the Pistons and could be especially important against the Kings when they go super big with Cousins and another center on the floor at the same time.
KCP vs. Afflalo: For whatever reason, Afflalo has given KCP all kinds of trouble, even giving him a life threatening ankle breaker last year in New York. Afflalo is not that good anymore either which is probably the most frustrating part of this. Hopefully KCP can buck the trend tonight.
Stanley vs. Destroying on defense: Stanley Johnson looks like it is really starting to click with him defensively, this is really good news for the Pistons. I'm not going to worry too much about the offense for now if he keeps up his play on the other end.
Morris vs. Gay: Rudy Gay is a good scorer and Marcus will have to cover him most of the night. (presumably) On the plus side, Gay is not a great defensive player so Marcus should be able to get some buckets back. Either way, Marcus will have to hold him in check.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre is outplaying Cousins.
Stanley is doing all kinds of insane stuff defensively.
Reggie Jackson is getting buckets again.
Run for the hills if:
Afflalo murders KCP again.
Jon Leuer doesn't play.
Cousins is raining in death from all over the court.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre and Boogie both have big games.
Tobias Harris scores over 20.
Afflalo doesn't score.
Pistons win a only sort of close game as the Kings can't get anything going from anyone other than Cousins.
What do you think? Can the Pistons hold Cousins down? Do you miss Tolly?