Opponent Scouting: Indiana Pacers. (7-8)

Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be on the road to play against the Pacers. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Bucks on Wednesday, while the Pacers are also on one day of rest after beating the Grizzlies.

 

The Them:

The Pacers are largely unchanged from the team the Pistons played recently. They still sport an effective offense with a 9th best efficiency in the NBA of 106.8 points per 100 possessions, while their defense is still very bad allowing 107.1 points per 100 possessions which is 25th in the NBA.

The offense is still lead by Victor Oladipo, who is still averaging 23.2 points per game and has rebounded with his efficiency recently, and while he still isn't much of a facilitator if he keeps up this scoring for much longer then it may be time to give him serious thought of being for real. Myles Turner has been a bit iffy since coming back from a concussion, he is scoring just under 14 points per game and isn't shooting particularly well but its still early, he remains in a learning period in a lot of defensive areas but he blocks a ton of shots. Thaddeus Young is still doing his thing, getting buckets while also playing scrappy defense and generally being long and strong, he's also still shooting pertty well from deep which is a good sign for the pacers. Bojan Bodganovic can shoot and score but doesn't do much of the defense thing, Darren Collison is a perfectly acceptable starting point guard with a killer mid-range jumper but is generally unremarkable. Cory Joseph is an awesome backup point guard who does a bit of everything, Domantas Sabonis is scoring and rebounding really well in limited minutes, Lance Stephenson still probably is just bad, T.J. Leaf is a decent young guy as a kind of stretch 4.

This team has a lot of options to score, Oladipo is averaging 23 and after that their next 5 guys (the rest of the starters + Sabonis) are averaging between 12 and 14 points per game. They can't really defend anything either though, but they continue to look like a team that actually is decent. Before the season I figured they would be total sad-sacks and they actually have been kind of fun and look like they actually may be a team who can finish around .500.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Drummond vs. Turner: His role hasn't been as big so far as a lot of people thought, but he is still important. Turner is big enough to not get bullied too much by Drummond but he still had enough learning to do to have trouble, while Drummond will have to deal with Turner's shooting. If Drummond starts to take over the paint or Turner starts to nail jumpers it could be a big factor in the game.

  • Avery Bradley vs. Victor Oladipo: After these teams played last I thought Oladipo had begun his return to mediocrity, and yet here he is still putting up 23 points per game. If Bradley can put the clamps on again then the Pacers offense loses a lot of its teeth as they don't have a whole lot of perimeter scoring otherwise.

  • Pistons vs. Turnovers: The Pistons turned the ball over a ton against the Bucks and that is really what cost them the game. Obviously the Bucks have a tendency to do that with all the length they have, but some of those turnovers were un-forced. The Pistons do not have enough offensive firepower to overcome sloppy play, and this Pacers team loves to run.

  • SVG vs. Rotations: SVG straight up played Luke Kennard as the backup small forward against the Bucks which shocked me, in a good way. If Kennard is put into that role again then there is a good chance he is going to be there for the foreseeable future.

  • Backup center? I'm not sure who the best option would be, but Sabonis is no joke. Whoever gets the minutes will have to play well.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Oladipo is throwing up all kinds of terrible shots and missing them again.

  • The Pistons look more like themselves on offense against a bad defensive team.

  • Drummond is abusing the Pacers in the paint.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • The Pistons backup centers can't contain Sabonis.

  • Turner begins raining death from above. (On both ends of the court)

  • The Pacers are getting out in transition a lot.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • The Pistons play disciplined and don't turn it over much.

  • Oladipo struggles in a big way again.

  • Drummond gets the better of Turner in the end.

  • The Pacers fight hard all the way but the Pistons win a competitive but not super close game.

  • Pistons 115 – Pacers 108.

 

What do you think? Can Bradley repeat his domination of Oladipo? Can the Pistons get back on track?