Opponent Scouting: Golden State Warriors. 7-0
So the Pistons play the Warriors at 10:30est tonight at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are the defending champs and the talk of all the NBA. If you follow basketball, you know this team at this point. But just in case you have lived under a rock for a while, lets have a look at them. (and FWIW I actually know this team really well. I adopted them back the first year this group made the playoffs because I wanted someone to root for and my 2k player had been drafted by the Warriors. I picked the right time to get on the bandwagon lol.)
The Them: The Warriors are terrifying. They are a whirlwind of efficiency on both ends of the floor, and they go super deep at damn near every position. The offense is centered around the shooting glories of Stephan Curry, who has been fully unleashed so far this year, and he also has a backcourt mate in Klay Thompson who is legit one of the best 2 way guards in basketball and also a elite shooter. Outside of those two they have a freaking army of smart passers and shooters that they trot out to rain death on opponents in the form of wide open 3s and layups. But make no mistake, Curry is what makes this offense click. On Defense they are equally dominant, Outside of Curry damn near every player on the team is an elite defender at his position, however their defense is not quite as good without Andrew Bogut at center (as far as I know he will not be playing tonight) but they are still an army of long armed athletes who switch on everything, create tons of turnovers, and smother opponents. So there, the Warriors are (probably) the best offensive and defense team in basketball. They are awesome, but lets stop this for a second, and look at the match ups and see how the Pistons might actually topple this giant.
Match ups to watch:
1.The Starters vs. Starters: Here is a funny fact for you, the best team in basketball? Yeah their current starting lineup (which has their highest usage so far) actually has a negative net rating. Yeah thats right.They are not good on defense and are pretty ok on offense. I had no idea before looking today. The Piston's starters on the other hand are still shredding opponents with incredible defense and passable offense. I'm going to trust my gut and say that the Warriors starters are still better than the Pistons, but with Festus Ezili in for Bogut, that group has not been as dominant. If the Piston's starters show that the numbers are for real and the Piston starting lineup is actually better, this game could surprise a whole lot of people.
2.Andre Drummond Vs Small Ball: If you go back to that link, and look at their second most used lineup, the one with Draymond at center? yeah, their net rating is +54. That is crazy. This is easily their best lineup. And it all centers around Draymond Green being able to survive against bigger guys on defense, and then murdering them on offense. Andre Drummond is not just any bigger guy though is he. If Andre Drummond goes full hulk and just laughs at the puny defenders trying to box him out, this game will get interesting really quickly. And also on the other end, Andre has often shown some real quicks in sticking with fast guys away from the hoop. If he can prove to be mobile enough to stick with Draymond on D. Then he could single handedly bust the balls of a unit that won the NBA championship last year. On the other hand, if Draymond proves up to the task of keeping Drummond from exploding, then trouble is coming. Because even if Drummond proves quick enough to stick with Draymond, that lineup is going to score a ton. There is no defense that can stop that. So if Drummond does not demolish them on the the boards and inside then the Warriors will kill the Pistons with that lineup. This is probably what will decide whether the Pistons can really hang with the Warriors. Is Andre truly a transcendent talent who can completely bust the Warriors small ball? If the answer is yes then the Pistons ABSOLUTELY have a chance. If he can't then they really don't.
3.The guards: I have said a couple of times this season that Jackson/KCP are playing at a level that would put them as one of the best two way backcourts in the NBA, but here is the kicker, tonight they go against the best. The splash brothers may well be the best backcourt ever to grace the hardwood. We will likely find out just how good both KCP and Reggie are on defense tonight. And look, they are not going to shut down those two guys, they are too good. But if they can contain. Aka make them use a lot of shots for their points. It will be huge. This is going to be huge tonight. Because there is one theme that has followed the Pistons in the game they lost, and the game they were losing most of it (last night). Is that both the Pacers and the Blazers play outside. This works because the Pistons strength lies in Andre Drummond, he is a beastly rim protector. Like otherworldly good, if he keeps this up he (should) be in defensive player of the year talks. But he cannot affect shots that are taken far away from him. So if the Warriors are able to fire away from deep and ergo negating Andre's rim protection, it will be an issue for the Pistons. As such, as tall an order as it is, KCP and Reggie are going to have to play a great defensive game, and force the splash brothers inside. Do not let them bomb away from deep. Force them to challenge the best center in the NBA (and yes until he slows down I am calling Drummond the best) at the hoop. And Jackson may have some trouble in particular, as I have mentioned before he likes to go under screens, and use his athleticism to get back out to the shooter. That is death against Steph Curry. Literally.
The Forwards vs. Rotations: This is a big reason why the Blazers got a big lead. SVG asked his forwards to come way out and essentially double team Lillard at the 3 point line, which they did fine. But the forwards could not make the quick enough following rotations to contest the next guy. And if you think the Blazers are capable at moving the ball to take advantage of a missed rotation, then just wait till you see the game tonight. If the Pistons are as piss poor on their rotations tonight as they were last night, they will lose. Simply put. The Warriors have to many good shooters and passers for that.
Greater Morris vs. Hitting hard shots: I have often gushed about the number of things Morris does other than score to help the team, but make no mistake here. He is on the team to score, and they need him to get some buckets. They were able to survive last night thanks to incredible performances by Jackson and Drummond. (particularly how efficient both were) and while those two are good enough to do that sometimes. Most nights the Pistons need Morris to get some buckets with decent efficiency. Here is the issue. Morris does a lot of his damage on mismatches. He is generally too quick for 4s, and too big for 2s. (and sometimes bigger and faster than 3s) And getting switches and attacking them are when he is at his best. However he will have no such mismatches tonight. Harrison Barnes will be his first cover, with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson as his switch options. And while he is anchoring bench units he will likely get a lot of Andre Iguadola. There are no good obvious mismatches for him. And his first cover (Harrison Barnes) is likely his easiest defender, and Barnes is solid. Even with this though, they need him to score some points. And they will he hard to get. It will be a cross your fingers thing. Because by all accounts this should be an off night for him as far shooting goes. But if he can catch a little fire in a bounce back night, it would be big for the team.
Steve Blake vs. oh dear god: If Steve Blake is on the floor and has to guard Stephan Curry. Just close your eyes and go to your happy place. It will be over soon.
Bench guys vs. Survival: Simply put the Warriors have a excellent bench. The Pistons... do not. There is no way the Piston's bench wins that matchup, but they need to keep the Warriors' bench from killing them. Like do something to keep it under control.
8.The player rotations: This is not a matchup, but SVG tinkered a little more with how he balances guys minutes to limit the damage the bench can do last night. As such he will probably continue, so just keep an eye on it.
So in conclusion:
Cackle with knowing glee if:
- Draymond Green purposely gets himself a double tech to get out of the game so he doesn't have to get dunked on by Andre Drummond again.
- Greater Morris gets hot
- The Pistons actually do have one of the best two way backcourts in basketball
- Reggie Jackson is way to fast for Curry to stand a chance against and Jackson lives in the paint
Run for the hills if:
- Andre is not totally dominating the paint on both ends
- Either splash brother starts to hit from deep
- Steve Blake tries to guard Curry
The Warriors start to get momentum and pull away Oppurtunities for me to look stupid tomorrow:
Andre Drummond has a 30-30 night
Steph does not go off. But still has a very good game.
Klay Thompson is generally stonewalled by KCP
Reggie Jackson has another 30+ point performance
Andre forces Draymond into fouling out/getting T'd up.
Look, the Pistons are playing the best team in basketball at a home court that was hard to win at even when the Warriors were bad. They probably will lose this game, look back through the match ups to watch. All of them are basically musts in order to beat the Warriors. There are probably too many things the Pistons have to do right. And here is the bigger issue. The Warriors will probably win for the same reason they won the Championship last year. Not because of some revoutionary space and pace offense, or incredible position less defense. But because they have better players. Outside of Andre, there is not a single guy on the Pistons who is better than his counter part. (Maybe Greater Morris is better than Harrison Barnes? That'd be a stretch even for me though and I am Morris' biggest fan.) I have hope though. Because I think that the one spot the Pistons are better, at center, is a huge advantage. Without Andrew Bogut the Warriors have no chance to keep Andre away from the hoop. And Jackson can attack curry-the one weak spot on the dubs D-all night for points, knowing that there is no elite rim protection to cover Curry's ass. Am I being optimistic? Yeah, but I can see how it can happen. And because of that I will chose to believe that it will happen. Because it is more fun like that. Realistically though, watch to see how Jackson does against Curry, because if he is good enough to keep Curry in check then he is every bit as good on D now as he has looked. And also watch Andre. If he is as good as I think he is and destroys the Warriors small ball, then this Pistons team is for real. Because they may well have one of the most dominant players in the NBA. Screw Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond might be the next best guy. (shots fired)
What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Think I missed something? If you are a Warriors fan and want to correct me on something go right ahead! We all get smarter!