Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be on the road to play against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Pistons are on one day of rest after they lost to the Pacers on Friday, the Wolves are also on one day of rest after beating the Mavericks.
The Timberwolves are probably no longer spooky, and just good. Despite his scoring and usage being down, Jimmy Butler is the leader for this team with his ability to defend and facilitate for others. He is averaging almost 16 points and 5 assists per game and playing defense as well as he ever has in his career. Andrew Wiggins' scoring average is down a bit as well, but he is their proverbial bucket getter who can score in a variety of ways, even if he still doesn't pass well. Karl-Anthony Towns still can't really defend for various reasons, but he can shoot the hell out of the ball and is generally a super skilled offensive player who has the athleticism to still make good defensive plays on occasion. Jeff Teague is still a bit of a tricky piece with the rest of the roster but he is shooting really well from deep and seems to be finding his lane a bit, he is mostly a pretty good but unremarkable point guard. Taj Gibson is a rude defender and rebounder with some basic offensive skills. Jamal Crawford is shooting the ball well off the bench but he doesn't play a lick of defense, Nemanja Bjelica is a big guy who can really shoot, Gorgui Dieng has seen his role decrease and isn't playing all that well but is a decent defender and decently skilled on offense. Tyus Jones is totally unremarkable as a backup point guard and may or may not actually be good, Shabazz Muhammad is a bully who can get some buckets but does very little else.
This is a team lead by a big three, and time will tell how the other pieces play and fit. If they fit well then this team could be really good, if they come down then this team could be not so good, but Jimmy Butler is 100% legit and as long as they have him they will be a hard team to beat.
Matchups to watch:
Drummond vs. KAT: Drummond has a history of beating KAT badly and the last time they faced each other was no different. The matchup is largely the same, KAT doesn't really have much chance to contain Drummond in the paint, but his ability to shoot is a problem for the Drummond and the Pistons on the other end. If KAT can be contained to being a jump shooter without being too deadly then the Pistons are in good shape, if not however...
Pistons vs. Burning the Tape and getting right: Last game was a total disaster in every way, and they are playing a tough team on the road looking to avenge a blowout loss the last time they played. The Pistons must get right.
Tobias Harris vs. Scoring through length: Harris has struggled to score against teams like the Wolves who can give him multiple long and good defenders the whole night. Last time he rode absurd three point shooting and transition to a huge game, and they will need him tonight.
Bench Mob vs. Getting back in rhythm: As a whole they did ok in the last game due to some YOLO threes that went in, but for the last two games they have looked out of sync on offense and need to get back into shape. The Wolves bench is (theoretically) a weakness this year.
Luke Kennard vs. Firing away: One good thing from the last couple of games is that Luke Kennard has been awesome and super fun. Keep it up young fella.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Drummond is pushing 20 rebounds at halftime.
The Pistons look angry and come out firing with energy.
Luke Kennard is the best player from the draft.
Run for the hills if:
KAT starts raining fire from deep.
Tobias Harris can't get going offensively.
Whichever big wing Stanley Johnson isn'g guarding is scoring lots of points.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
This is a super fun game between two angry teams trying badly to win.
Tobias gets some tough buckets but not on high volume.
Reggie Jackson has his first BIG game of the year.
The Pistons ride Jackson and Drummond with a little help from the bench to a close win in a super fun game.
Pistons 108 – Timberwolves 103.
What do you think? Can they right the ship? Can Drummond keep up his domination of KAT?