Tonight at 10:30pm EST. the Pistons will be in LA to face off against the Clippers. The Pistons will be on two days of rest after romping over the Timberwolves on Wednesday, and the Clippers will be on one day of rest following a victory over the Blazers on Thursday.
The Clippers are off to a great start, and following the Spurs loss last night they now stand as the lone undefeated team in basketball. Chris Paul is gone to the Rockets, and that has caused the full unleashing of Blake Griffin and Oh-Baby has he been unleashed to the tune of 26.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game on a true shooting percentage of 63.9%(!!!!!). He has even begun to shoot threes and is hitting 43.5% of them, so yeah, Blake is pretty good. Despite the fact that he will likely regress (most notably from three) if he stays healthy he will have a very good chance to win MVP. Beyond Blake this team has a lot of very good role players who are mostly doing very well in their roles, you could almost dub this team “Blake Griffin and his merry men.”
Patrick Beverly is a monster defender who is shooting the ball very well to start the year and can do basic point guard stuff. Danilo Gallinari has gotten off to a slow start but he will break out of it at some point, and he is a great shooter who can also straight up get buckets. DeAndre Jordan continues to be a great roll man on the pick and roll and is rebounding and playing defense like usual. Austin Rivers is starting now (Teodosic got hurt) and for all the crap given Doc at the time, Austin is probably the best move he made. Austin can shoot and play defense, he also is off to a rough start scoring but that should change. Lou Williams is still a scoring savant off the bench who can give it to you any number of ways,Wesley Johnson isn't very good but he is long and occasionally hits some threes,Sam Dekker hasn't played a lot but is a skilled tweener forward off the bench, and Willie Reed is a big guy who plays hard.
Blake has been out of his mind, but the Clippers can rest a bit easy on worries of an unsustaibaly good start given that two of their starters (Gallo and Rivers) are shooting terribly so far. They play fast, they are playing hard, and are fun to watch. This (and the next) game should be the toughest opponent the Pistons have faced so far this year.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs Blake Griffin: It has been the case the last three years. Good power forwards give the Pistons trouble, and Blake has been no exception. The Pistons simply have no good answer for him. Unless he just has a night of regression, he is going to have a good game and unless the Pistons put forth a great team effort it could quickly become a great game.
Drummond vs. Jordan: The battle of behemoths renews. The two best rebounders alive go at it. They are both one of just a handful of guys in the NBA who can match the other physically and athletically, and they both dominate the paint on both ends. Drummond plays a larger role than Jordan does, but they are both very important to their teams. Whoever comes out on top in this individual matchup will have a big impact on the overall outcome of the game.
Avery Bradley vs. Getting involved on offense: Neither of the Clippers starting guards are exactly offensive juggernauts, as such Bradley will not be able to make as large an impact on the defensive end as you would like and will hopefully be able to have some extra energy for offense.
Ish vs. More passing: After a monster game against the Timberwolves, hopefully Ish has worked through whatever was causing him to play poorly in the first few games. The Clippers are a bit thin off the bench and the Pistons will want to make the most of minutes where Griffin sits. Ish and the bench mob will play a major role in this one in all likelihood.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Drummond is outplaying Jordan, and his passing is causing problems for the Clipper defense.
Avery Bradley is getting very involved offensively with success.
The Piston's bench goes on a run each time it is matched against the Clipper's bench.
Run for the hills if:
Blake Griffin is dominating the game to a comical extent.
Gallo or Rivers (or both) decide this is the night to break out of their shooting slump.
Patrick Beverly makes Reggie Jackson have flashbacks to last year.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Blake Griffin scores a lot of points, but clangs a lot of threes.
Gallo scores a lot of points.
The Piston's bench dominates the Clipper's bench.
The Pistons ride a strong bench night to a close victory.
Pistons 105 – Clippers 100.
What do you think? Can the Pistons contain Blake Griffin? Will Andre win the centers battle?