Tonight the Pistons will be hosting the Charlotte Hornets at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Pacers on Tuesday and the Hornets are on the 2nd night of a back to back, as well as their 3rd game in 4 nights after beating the Thunder last night. The game is set to tip at 7:30 pm EST.
The Hornets are a team that is, in many ways, what this Pistons squad hopes to be yet this year. The Hornets lack a true superstar of any sort, but they have a bunch of good players and a really good coach. They feature a pretty much average offense with an efficiency of 105.9, and a fairly good defense with an efficiency of 103.6. They are lead into battle by Kemba Walker, who has finished is long and steady assent into being a legit all star caliber player, scoring 23 points and dishing 5.4 assists per game and doing it efficiently. He also brings it defensively. Nic Batum is 2nd in command and he has slowly started to find his shot after struggling earlier in the season a bit, he is scoring 14.5 points and dishing a team high 5.7 assists per game and is a long and rangy defender. Beyond their top 2 guys, it is a team full of role players who know their roles. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a incredible defender, and he can score at the hoop, but his jumper is largely broken still. Marvin Williams has taken a bit of a step back after a great season last year, but he is pretty close to the ideal stretch 4 role player, with the main difference between him and most stretch 4s is that Williams is a really good defender. Cody Zeller is currently concussed and isn't expected to play. Marco Bellinelli can shoot 3s and does just enough everywhere else to not be a hinderance. Frank Kaminsky can score and pass, and is a smart, scrappy defender, essentially making him the perfect stereotype of a white NBA player. Jeremy Lamb has shot really poorly this season, but is a fairly reliable 3 and D type off of the bench with some ball handling ability. Ramon Sessions takes the backup PG duties and he is pretty much fine there if nothing more. Spencer Hawes can shoot from center and nothing else, Roy Hibbert is a large human being and not really anything else.
This is a team that plays defense, doesn't beat itself, and counts on Kemba and to a lesser extent Batum to get them enough points to win games. They are good and they don't beat themselves, other than the solace the Pistons can take in being better rested, they will have to be on their games if they wan t win.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Everybody: Especially given that Zeller is unlikely to play, Andre should have big advantages over Hibbert and especially Hawes. He has a couple of monster games in the books against the Hornets already this year, and if the Pistons want to win they will need a 3rd one from him.
Reggie vs. Continuing to steer straight: In his last 2 games, Reggie Jackson has started to really look like himself in every way. There is a lot of negativity (some of it justified) around him right now but he needs to drown that out and focus on playing his game. And he will have a very tough matchup against Kemba so he will need to be on his game.
Tobias for 6th man: He really has been impressive since moving to the bench and it is looking like a great match for him. I like how SVG is letting him have the ball more in transition and telling him to attack the hoop more. If he keeps this up then the Pistons could have one of the better benches in the league.
KCP vs. Batum: I don't actually know for sure how much time KCP will spend on Batum, but if he does he will have to dig deep. Batum's size has given him some real problems in the past, and when he is getting good looks he can really kill you in a lot of ways. On the flip side, KCP has got to give it back as good as he gets on the other end.
Baynes? Aron Baynes sat out practice yesterday, (on a plus note, Bullock is back practicing. Not cleared to play yet, but getting close) and it is still unclear if he will be playing or not. Boban actually looked pretty good in his time in the last game, and I would actually kind of like to see him get a couple more games worth of minutes in.
Pistons vs. Not making me sad: I'm an optimist about the Pistons because it is more fun to root for a team when you are optimistic about them. But every loss that keeps piling up kills a little bit of that positivity. Please just start winning some games so we can all go back to arguing whether or not Andre Drummond is elite or what contract KCP is worth instead of wondering whether they should blow it up or not.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre is dominating the paint on both ends.
Reggie continues to play with a real fire and is passing the ball well.
KCP manages to stick with Batum.
Run for the hills if:
Kemba crosses Reggie over so bad that he literally breaks his ankles.
MKG is dominating whichever Piston he gaurds.
The Hornets start off the game with an absurd shooting clinic from deep.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre does have another monster game.
Reggie, KCP, and Tobias all score 20 points. Andre comes close.
Stanley Johnson ends up with extended minutes.
Pistons look more energetic and win comfortably to head onto the road again with a positive vibe.
What do you think? Can the Hornets contain Andre? Can the Pistons contain Kemba?