Tonight at 7:30pm EST the Pistons will be in Brooklyn to play against the Nets. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Pelicans on Monday night, as are the Nets after losing to the Raptors.
The Nets are not all that good, but they have an identity and a bunch of young guys who play hard which makes them a team that is pretty tough to play. They enter the game with the 24th ranked offensive efficiency at 103.1 points per 100 possessions, and the 16th ranked defense at 106.0 points per 100 possessions which combines for the 23rd net rating at -2.9.
They have a number of injuries, Jeremy Lin is out for the year, D'Angelo Russell is out for a couple more weeks, Allen Crabbe is expected to be out, and DeMarre Carroll and Nike Stauskas may be out. With their main two point guards out, our old friend Spencer Dinwiddie is at the helm and has been surging recently. He can score inside, shoot a bit from deep, and has an absurd assist to turnover ratio. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has all but given up on being a three point shooter but he is a maniacal defender and tricky scorer inside who draws fouls. Caris LeVert has bounced back from a really bad start to the year and is back to looking like a good long term piece for the Nets as a swiss army knife wing. If they play, DeMarre Carroll has fallen off after a hot shooting start to the season but he can still do basic 3 and D stuff, Allen Crabbe is a very high volume three point shooter but not a ton else.
Joe Harris can shoot the ball from deep and has a little off the bounce ability, Tyler Zeller is able to do normal big man things but nothing all that well. Quincy Acy can kind of shoot now and is still a good hustle defender and rebounder. Jarrett Allen is tall, skinny, and athletic and while he is still learning the ropes and not strong enough yet he shows real promise as a rim runner and protector. Jahlil Okafor is here, but he hasn't done much yet and some dude named Milton Doyle played in the last game. He is a guard who is a 24 year old rookie and I know nothing about him.
This team plays at a really fast pace, they shoot tons of threes, they run out goofy lineups that are sometimes almost comically small. They are pretty much in the best version of themselves that they could be all things considered, even though they stink and still don't have their draft pick this year they are really entertaining to watch and they have some legit young pieces now.
Matchups to watch:
Spencer Dinwiddie vs. Revenge Game: There probably isn't actually much bad blood here given that the Pistons traded Dinwiddie in an attempt to give him a shot somewhere else instead of having him stay the 3rd point guard here, but there has got to be a little extra something. He never would've gotten the minutes and opportunity to grow like he has in Brooklyn, but he has become a real player.
Drummond vs. Nothing: Zeller shouldn't have much chance against Drummond, Allen is athletic but very small, and the Nets sometimes go so small that Hollis-Jefferson plays center. Drummond should have a very good chance to totally dominate this game in the paint.
Pistons vs. Energy: The Nets run and bomb threes like crazy. They are not an especially accurate three point team but if the Pistons do not play with energy defensively the Nets will have a real chance to open up a lead.
Avery Bradley vs. Being over whatever it was: Bradley finally started to hit some jumpers in the second half against the Pelicans. If that is a sign that he has shaken off the rust from his injury and will be back to previous levels it would be a huge boost to the Pistons.
Anthony Tolliver vs. Getting some bombs to fall: Tolly just has not been all that involved on offense lately. In his last 7 games he has scored: 0, 1, 1, 5, 4, 4, and 2 points. He hasn't shot well or very much and while his improved defense and ability to do things other than just shoot on offense helps, but he needs to be hitting some shots.
Stanley Johnson vs. Being healthy: Apparently he could've played against the Pelicans but SVG decided he wanted to give him one more game off to make sure he is set. If he can come back and play with the sort of assertiveness off the bench that he had been it would be helpful, and obviously his defense will help.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre Drummond is totally unstoppable.
Avery Bradley regresses up to the mean by not missing at all.
Stanley Johnson is back and driving to the hoop to draw fouls and ending people on defense.
Run for the hills if:
Spencer Dinwiddie revenge game.
The Pistons look a step slow.
Stanley Johnson doesn't look right.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre Drummond goes for 25/25/7.
Tobias Harris continues to play awesome ball.
Dinwiddie starts off well, the Avery Bradley takes his soul.
The Pistons never pull away, but the high pace works just fine with Ish Smith and the Pistons win comfortably from start to finish.
Pistons 115 – Nets 103.
What do you think? Will Spender go off? How will Stanley Johnson look?