Opponent Scouting: Chicago Bulls. (11-9)
About last game: I had a project I was working on so I couldn't do a recap. I thought the Pistons played ok but were on the wrong end of a lot of good midrange shooting. Reggie looked very good too and that was honestly the most important thing.
Tonight the Pistons will be hosting the Chicago Bulls for the first time this year at 7:30pm EST. The Bulls are on the 2nd night of a back to back after losing to Portland last night, and the Pistons are on one days rest after losing to the Magic on Tuesday.
The Bulls have not been nearly the train wreck that many thought they would be, (although FWIW, I figured they'd at least be ok) the thing that is interesting is that the Bulls have succeeded mostly with good offense, with an offensive efficiency of 105.7 which is currently number 11 in the NBA, while their defensive efficiency is at 102.8 which is quite pedestrian and #14 in the NBA. Most people looked at them similarly as they did the Magic in that they could perhaps put together a good defense but would be terrible offensively, largely due to lack of shooting. While a lot has been made of both Butler and Wade shooting pretty well from 3, the Bulls are 2nd to last (just above the Pistons) in 3s attempted, and it will be interesting to see if they can keep their offense in the borderline of the top 3rd of the NBA with so few 3s.
The main reason it is working out is Jimmy Butler, he has become a absolute super star at this point. He is scoring almost 26 points per game and he is doing it very efficiently, and he is also passing the ball really well. He is not as destructive on defense anymore, but he is still very good on that end. So far this year he has been better than Paul George. Dwyane Wade has also been very good in a Bulls uniform as he has been able to stay healthy so far this year. He is scoring just under 20 per game and doing it with efficiency, and he is actually giving some effort defensively although he is old enough that he isn't all that good, at least he isn't a detriment like he probably was last year. Wade also is shooting 3s now, and doing it pretty well at 36.7% on 3.3 attempts per game. Rajon Rondo is expected to be playing tonight after missing the last game due to suspension, and it is not entirely clear whether or not the Bulls actually should be happy about it or not, he is shooting terribly and he takes the ball out of Wade and Butler's hands, while being pretty horrible defensively. Robin Lopez is big, strong and smart. He won't do anything to really wow you, but he has given Andre trouble in the past and that does not figure to change. Taj Gibson is still a rough and tough defender who has decent touch offensively around the hoop and in the midrange. Jerian Grant is taking the majority of the backup PG minutes, and he has been pretty bad so far but he is still young so he could figure it out. Nikola Mirotic has been a disappointment as he has shot very poorly and generally just does not show a ton of basketball IQ, and it shows as he is playing just 22 minutes per game on a team that (in theory) could desperately need his shooting. Doug McDermott is hurt and is not going to play, so is MCW. Isaiah Canaan has gotten some minutes and he is a little guy who can shoot (although shot like crap so far), Denzel Valentine might get a few minutes although he has been miserable so far. Bobby Portis rounds out their regular rotation and even though he isn't playing that much he has played pretty well, he can shoot really well from either big spot. (though they mostly play him at center.)
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs. Lopez: Lopez is exactly the sort of guy who can give Andre trouble, he is big and strong enough to hold him, and is disciplined enough that he will not lose him on box outs very often. Andre definitely has a athletic advantage, but he needs to at least not get totally shut out by Lopez, hopefully the Pistons don't feed him too much in the post but instead take advantage of the athleticism difference in the pick and roll.
Reggie Jackson: He looked real good against the Magic, getting to his spots and making good decisions, he is a bit of a slow poke which is a major shift from Ish Smith but he is so good at snaking into the paint and being patient.
Repeat of last year? Last year, these two teams played some incredible games including a 4OT game that was freaking awesome. Hopefully they can play some more awesome games this year.
Pistons vs. Butler: Here we are again, Butler is a incredible offensive player, and he has generally been too big for KCP, and given that Wade is in town KCP will have his hands full anyways. Marcus Morris will likely get most of the time on Butler, and he will have to be on his game. Perhaps SVG will bust out some time for Stanley tonight.
KCP and Andre vs. Wade: Wade has perfected the old man game of using little pushes and hesitation moves that has the sort of nuance that can give young players like KCP and Andre trouble. KCP has generally done well against Wade in the past, and if he can stay in front of him this is a moot point, but when Wade beats his man and Andre has to hold him from the hoop, Andre has to be disciplined. Also, Wade chasing KCP around screens all night sounds like lots of open shots for KCP.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Dwyane Wade is spending a lot of time complaining to the refs while KCP runs to the other hoop after stealing the ball from him.
Reggie looks like he did in the last game.
Rajon Rondo probably sucks now.
Run for the hills if:
Rondo is actually playing awesome because he wants to make up for missing a game.
The Pistons can't really guard Butler.
Andre is clearly frustrated by Lopez and can't really get anything going.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Pistons win in 5 overtimes.
What do you think? Will Reggie look good again? Can the Pistons hold Butler in place?