Tonight the Pistons will be hosting the Trade Bowl against the LA Clippers at the LCA. I am not totally sure what time the game starts, my guess is 8:00pm EST because it was flexed to ESPN and that's when ESPN games start usually, but the official schedule still says 7:00 so I'm not totally sure. Hopefully that becomes clear at some point in the day. Anyways, the Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Nets on Wednesday, while the Clippers are super rested after three days of rest. For a real comparison of how much better rested the Clippers are, neither team has lost with their new players, the Clippers are going for #3 while the Pistons are going for #6.
The Clippers have a new look and have only played two games with that new look so it's pretty hard to say about their greater team. For the little it is worth at this point, they hold the 11th best offensive efficiency in the NBA at 106.7 points per 100 possessions and the 15th best defensive efficiency at 106 points allowed per 100 possessions. But once again, that isn't worth much at this point lol.
The Clippers are lead by super 6th man Lou Williams, who is scoring 23.3 points per game and doing it on great efficiency. He is chucking threes and hitting them at an elite level, drawing tons of fouls, and generally being an absolute menace even if he still doesn't defend anyone. Tobias Harris is averaging 21.5 points per game in his two games with the Pistons which obviously isn't a large sample size, but we know what Tobias is capable of. Austin Rivers has been hurt but is possibly going to return tonight, he is kind of a relentless chucker on offense but he's a pretty good one and he defends well. Danilo Gallinari is finally healthy and even though he has largely played like trash in the few games he's played this year, he is a good shooter and great maker of tough shots. DeAndre Jordan is the constant, a great roll man, rebounder, and defender. He is the most elite of role players and its always fun to see him and Drummond clash. Avery Bradley can still defend like crazy and shoot threes, Milos Teodosic is supposed to return tonight as well and he can pass. Montrezl Harrell is a good athlete, Wesley Johnson is long and not totally useless.
In theory this team still has enough good players with a nice balance of offense and defense to be a pretty good team, but only time will tell what the finished product ends up looking like. For now though, the Pistons should assume the Clippers will be dangerous, especially when they are so well rested.
Matchups to watch:
All the traded guys vs. How do they respond: Harris and Griffin will likely have some extra umph for the game. The hope is that Griffin does not try to do too much but instead channels it into a great game. We know that Tobias Harris is not ever prone to doing “Too much” though so that's good.
Drummond vs. Jordan: The best two rebounders in the game who's entire game revolves around dominating the paint on both ends? Yeah they are always pretty fun to watch.
Stanley Johnson vs. Aggression: Watching Stanley lately has me feeling like Emperor Palpatine. “Yesss, let the anger flooow through you. Use your aggression, it makes you stronger.” He's been awesome lately, so awesome that he may be able to work out even without a jump-shot. And the Pistons will need that.
Tolliver vs. Holding up: We will see if James Ennis takes some of the load off Tolly, but for now he is set in as playing nearly 30 minutes per game which is a lot for him. He is old and his style of play is taxing. I am a bit worried about him long term, but hopefully Ennis' arrival can fix that.
Luke Kennard vs. Getting that mojo: He hasn't played poorly lately, he took Nik Stauskas' life in his last outing. But I feel like he's been just a little less visible than he had been. I'd like to see him back to that.
Stanley Johnson vs. Tobias Harris: I don't know if this is a matchup we will actually see much of, but oh man I want too.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Blake Griffin revenge game.
Stanley Johnson is still busting fools in the paint.
Run for the hills if:
Tobias Harris revenge game.
Avery Bradley steals Ish Smith's soul.
Blake tries to do too much.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Stanley Johnson guards Tobias Harris, and it goes really poorly for Tobias.
Blake Griffin has a huge game.
The Pistons have no real good answer for Lou Williams.
Pistons ride a huge Griffin game for a comfortable but not blowout win.
Pistons 115 – Clippers 107.
What do you think? Can the Pistons keep the winning going? Will Blake channel his anger into a good game or try to do too much?