Today at 3:30pm the Pistons will be wrapping up the home stand by hosting the Miami Heat. The Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Hawks on Friday night, as are the Heat after beating the Jazz.
The Heat are a pretty solid team, but not an overly remarkable one. They are likely to be in the playoff hunt the entire season but are likely to be on the lower end of it. They are lead by Goran Dragic, who carries a pretty large responsibility on the team and is also very good. He is an expert in the pick and roll, loves to get out in transition, can shoot, finish, and plays defense. They combine him with Hassan Whiteside and they have a really effective pick and roll offense to be based around, and Whiteside is also a good defender who is one of the best rim protectors in basketball and can get some buckets in ways other than just dunking. Dion Waiters is still here and he is still the same guy he was before. He is chucking away to 16.4 points per game on terrible efficiency while turning the ball over a lot, but at least he is still playing pretty hard on defense and he can catch fire and give you buckets at any point.
Beyond those three, James Johnson is a pretty good and goofy player who mostly plays center a lot of the time as a point center in the truest sense. He is a tough guard who is a fun player. Tyler Johnson is a nice swiss army knife guy who can do a bit of everything on the wing, Kelly Olynyk can shoot and do other basic offensive things as a big but is a bit limited, Josh Richardson is shooting very poorly so far this year which has hurt them but he could bounce back at any time, Wayne Ellington is a pretty vanilla wing player who does some stuff but nothing all that notable. Justise Winslow can't shoot or do much of anything on offense but he is still a solid defender.
This team was probably never going to be as good as a lot of people seemed to think heading into the year as role players regress from career years, but they are still good. Dragic and Whiteside are no joke on either end and when that is combined with the excellent coaching of Erik Spoelstra they will always be able to win games.
Matchups to watch:
Drummond vs. Whiteside: The clash of titans so to speak. Drummond has actually given Whiteside some issues in previous matches and gotten the better of him on the whole, but I wouldn't put too much into that. Both guys stand as one of the only ones who can match the other for strength and athleticism.
Dion Waiters vs. Not getting hot: If he gets hot he can suddenly become awesome, otherwise he is very close to a net negative on the floor. Hope he doesn't get hot and the Pistons will have a much easier time.
Bradley vs. Dragic: Dragic is the engine that drives the Heat's relentless drive and kick attack, and he will be covered by Avery Bradley. Dragic is too good to be bottled up entirely, but he should be able to keep him contained to an extent which will be important.
Tobias Harris vs. Aggression: Justise Winslow will get him for a while, but the Heat are not exactly overflowing with good wing defenders and like to go small with three guards quite a bit. Harris should at the very least be able to get favorable switches with some ease and needs to take advantage.
Pistons vs. Not playing like crap: The Hawks are so bad that the Pistons won despite playing very poorly, probably can't do that against this Heat team. They are not world beaters, but they are not pushovers, Pistons will have to bring their game if they want to win.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Drummond is getting the better of Whiteside again.
Dragic is having serious trouble getting offensive creation against Bradley.
Dion Waiters is looking like a fanatical Trump supporter with all the bricks he is laying for the wall.
Run for the hills if:
The Pistons are not getting anything in the paint with Whiteside patrolling.
Waiters looks like a fanatical supporter of global warming with the fire he is raining down.
The Pistons play with the same lack of focus and energy they did against the Hawks.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre Drummond > Hassan Whiteside.
Tobias Harris gets going early and often.
The Heat offense is stalled all game as Bradley's defense forces them to run more stuff with Waiters, and it goes poorly.
The Pistons got Stan Van Gundy's message and come out firing, take early hold of the game and never let go. Not a blowout, but always in control.
Pistons 108 – Heat 100.
What do you think? Can Andre keep up his play against Whiteside? Can the Pistons close out the home stand with all wins?