Tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST the Pistons will welcome the Chicago Bulls to the Palace. The Pistons are one day of rest after crushing the Sixers on Saturday, while the Bulls are on one day of rest after losing to the Clippers on Saturday.
The Bulls are a team that is in rough shape. Their offensive efficiency is decent at 104.5, and their defensive efficiency is not much good at 105.5. They do have a legitimate super star in Jimmy Butler, who is pretty much the only thing keeping them from the abyss at this point, scoring 23.8 points with 5.1 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, and doing it really efficiently with tons of fouls drawn. Dwyane Wade is still pretty impressive, it isn’t easy to score 18.9 points per game at 35 years old, and he’s been mostly healthy this year playing in 53 games. He doesn’t really play defense anymore, and he is a bad 3 point shooter. After those 2, Robin Lopez is still a rock solid player at the center spot, and that is pretty much where the good news ends. Bobby Portis might be decent but he is has not gotten a lot of playing time after a promising rookie season, Rajon Rondo is bad, Nikola Mirotic has fallen off a cliff and is bad, Jerian Grant is pretty much what he was, decent point guard but nothing special. Cristiano Felicio remains a bit of a bright spot in his limited minutes as a energetic and athletic center off the bench. Denzel Valentine has been an abject disaster so far this year. Cameron Payne and Joffrey Lauvergne are decent and fairly young players acquired in a trade at the deadline, but neither of them figure to be particularly game changing. They are in a rough spot, but Jimmy Butler in awesome.
Matchups to watch:
- SVG rotations: SVG went with a pretty different rotation against the Sixers, going with an almost even split between Jackson and Ish at point guard, using Leuer at center, and Reggie Bullock seeing some time. It will be interesting to see if he sticks with that or makes further changes.
- Pistons vs Butler: Butler is really good, and some combination of Marcus, Tobias, and Stanley will have to keep him in place. This might be a good game to have Stanley get some extra playing time for his defense.
- Marcus vs God mode: It’s doubtful since he probably used his awesome game for the month already against the Blazers, but Marcus has carved up the Bulls a few times since arriving in Detroit, and it would be great to see him do it again.
- VIKING EPIC: These two teams have played some awesome games over the last couple of years. It should be a super fun game.
- KCP vs Running all the time: Wade is old. He doesn’t want to chase KCP around screens the entire night, so KCP should probably get a chance to shoot off of screens almost every possession he is on the floor. Wade will almost certainly give up plenty of clean looks, and even if it doesn’t, it will tire wade out.
- Bench vs Being awesome: The Pistons have an awesome bench, one of the best in basketball. Keep it up. (now if only the starters could pull their weight…)
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
- KCP is getting lots of clean looks while Wade looks very annoyed.
- The Pistons can contain Jimmy Butler.
- The split PG minutes works well again.
Run for the hills if:
- Butler starts to hit tough shots.
- Wade is using his glorious old man game to punk KCP defensively.
- Andre is largely taken out of the game by Lopez.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
- KCP scores 25+
- Marcus Morris and Tobias both have really nice games.
- The Bulls struggle to get offense of any sort all game.
- The Pistons get good games from their middle 3 (KCP/Marcus/Tobias) and win comfortably.
- Pistons 106 – Bulls 89.
What do you think? Can Wade keep up with KCP? Can Andre avoid being dominated by Lopez?