Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be in Indianapolis to play against the Pacers. The Pistons are on the second night of a back to back after beating the Hawks last night, while the Pacers are on one day of rest after losing to the Thunder on Wednesday.
The Pacers are one of the surprise stories of the NBA so far this year, and even though I still think they are likely to fall off their current pace (currently on pace for 46 wins) by quite a bit but even if they do, they will have far exceeded my (and many others) expectations for them. The Pacers still feature the 7th best offense in basketball at a rate of 108.1 points per 100 possessions and at a fast pace, while their defense is a mediocre but not too terrible 17th in the NBA at 105.9 points per 100 possessions for the 8th best net rating in the NBA at +2.2.
They are lead by Victor Oladipo, who with every week that passes is starting to look like this may actually be real. Oladipo is scoring 24.3 points per game and doing it on good efficiency even though he still isn't an effective passer. Thaddeus Young is still a rock solid consistent two way player who can do a bit of everything. Bojan Bogdanovic can shoot the ball really well, Darren Collison is a capable if unremarkable point guard, and Myles Turner has not made the sort of leap some were hoping for, he is still a really good young big who plays both ways. Cory Joseph is as good as they come off the bench, Domantas Sabonis has been awesome off the bench as he is back in the post, Lance Stephenson is wildly entertaining and has actually been more so in a good way than a bad way this year. T.J. Leaf looks like a good find as a sort of stretch 4 in a young guy.
Even if they are not going to hold on to this kind of success, this team plays hard, they play fast, and they have a decent amount of cohesion together and will probably never be an easy out.
Matchups to watch:
Bradley vs. Oladipo: Avery Bradley has done a great job on Oladipo in the two times these teams have played so far this year, and if Oladipo is held in check then this offense loses a great deal of their danger. The Pistons handily beat the Pacers once and had a meltdown for the ages in the other game. So if Bradley can repeat his success against Oladipo and the Pistons avoid an almost comical meltdown the Pistons should be in great shape.
Drummond vs. Turner: In what has almost become a classic style matchup for Drummond at this point, the two centers figure to play a major role in this game. Drummond is bigger and stronger inside than Turner (though Turner is no slouch in that department) but Turner has perimeter offensive skills that can give Drummond and the Pistons problems on the other end. Drummond has mostly done well against Turner so far but that could certainly change.
Reggie Jackson vs. Getting right: Jackson hasn't had a really good game for a while, it would be great if he could change that tonight. It won't be easy with Turner patrolling the paint but the Pacers are not an overly stout defensive team so he should still have a chance.
Rotations: Idk what to say about it, but how much Stanley Johnson plays (will Bullock keep starting?) and also if SVG will put in Boban or not both hang as a bit of an elephant in the room for the Pistons right now.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Bradley locks up Oladipo again.
This time when Lance takes stupid threes they don't bank it.
Run for the hills if:
Lance banks in a three.
Turner is hitting jumpers.
The Pistons struggle to defend Thad Young.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Reggie Jackson has a nice game.
Oladipo struggles with efficiency but he fights his way to some points.
Tobias Harris scores a lot of points.
The Pistons play a solid two way game and win a fairly close but comfortable game.
Pistons 105 – Pacers 98.
What do you think? Can the Pistons get the ship righted? Can Bradley contain Oladipo?