Opponent Scouting: Atlanta Hawks. (10-9)
Tonight the Pistons are in Atlanta in order to play the Hawks at 8:00pm EST. The Hawks are on one days rest after losing to the Suns, and the Pistons are also on one days rest after beating the Celtics.
The Hawks are a different team than they have been the past couple of years, instead of a passing machine they run more pick and rolls with Schroder and Dwight Howard, although they do still play defense like crazy. Schroder has taken the mantle of point guard from Jeff Teague and is doing alright, but probably not as well as the Hawks had hoped he would. Him and Howard are an effective pick and roll duo, Schroder is not scoring terribly efficiently and is turning the ball over too much, but the Hawks have some faith that he will improve as he gets more comfortable as the starter. (remember that Reggie Jackson had some similar problems when he first arrived) Kyle Korver is still running around screens like a mad man and he is still one of the best shooters alive, he is old and doesn't do a lot else anymore but he is still smart enough to survive. Kent Bazemore is a rock solid 2 way player, very similar to KCP although Bazemore has shot poorly out of the gate. Paul Millsap remains one of the better 2 way players in basketball who can do everything, although he too is not shooting all that well out of the gate. Dwight Howard mans the middle these days and has largely settled into his role and is in the honey moon stage where he is playing really hard, rebounding, and playing defense. Although his insistance on post up touches has not been terribly healthy. Thabo Sefolosha plays defense and can attack the hoop and generally be an athlete, but he can't shoot for anything right now, Mike Muscala has been awesome early in the year who is shooting really well, Tim Hardaway seems to have found his groove in the NBA as a offensive spark plug off the bench. Malcolm Delaney was pulled out of the garbage bin as backup point guard and he has not been able to score much but is a pretty good passer. Kris Humphries can rebound and shoot a little bit, and Taurean Prince is a crazy athlete. Mike Scott is likely to come back tonight and he is a sort of swiss army knife type of person.
As you could probably pick up from the number of “not shooting very well” players named, the Hawks offense has struggled this year, but their defense has been wonderful. It will be interesting to see how they grow over the year getting used to Schroder and Dwight being central to the team.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Dwight: 2 big strong centers who generally dominate the paint. Dwight is also still in full “try hard” mode with his new team so it should be a fun matchup to watch. Dwight is getting older, but he is still fully capable of playing awesome.
Ish vs. Dennis: Both starting point guards are fast. Like really fast. Schroder is better than Ish of course, but Ish has enough speed to actually keep up with Schroder, and that is Schroder's main attribute. Ish's speed and general defensive effort could give Schroder some issues, and given the length and active hands of the Pistons defenders he could be in for a long night.
Pistons vs. Good offense: The Hawks have a really good defense, Dwight Howard locks down the paint, Millsap is a do all guy, Bazemore and Schorder give them tons of speed on the perimeter, and Korver is still super smart. Combine that with a great coach and the Hawks are a really good defensive team, and the Pistons will have to be in good form if they want to have success.
KCP vs. Korver: It is possible someone else could guard Korver, but it will likely be KCP. KCP has fairly consistently struggled, especially this year, with chasing guys around screens. JJ Reddick has had 2 wonderful games against KCP, and Korver is capable of doing the same thing. If Kover is getting open it will be a huge problem for the Pistons, but if KCP can pull through and keep with him it will take a big part of the Hawks offense away.
KCP vs. Staying in the offense: KCP has had a couple of really good games, because he has stayed within the offense and gotten open shots. He has had a tendency in the past to start chucking after having a good stretch of shooting and it has pretty much always gone poorly. If Korver is on him he should have a chance to get plenty of open shots, but he needs to make sure he doesn't try and do too much.
Pistons vs. Guarding Millsap: Paul Millsap is really good, and he is a power forward. The Pistons have had trouble guarding these types of players, and even Millsap specifically. If they can keep him in check they will be in good shape, but Millsap could have a big game.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre > Dwight.
KCP is sticking with Korver.
Schroder is turning the ball over a bunch.
Run for the hills if:
Korver is getting open.
Andre gets into early foul trouble against Dwight.
Paul Millsap is roasting whoever is guarding him.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre outplays Dwight.
Mobias combine to outplay Millsap.
Dennis Schroder has a miserable game.
The Hawks have a ton of turnovers and the Pistons have a good and balanced offensive attack. The Pistons ride to a comfortable victory.
What do you think? Andre > Dwight? Can KCP stick with Korver?