Opponent Scouting: Minnesota Timberwolves. 12-20.
Tomorrow (Thursday) night the Pistons will welcome the Wolves to town for a game at 6:00pm est. at the Palace. The Wolves will be traveling to Detroit on the second night of a back to back, the first of which was a win against the Jazz. (and one that watching was literally painful at times for me.) The Pistons are operating on 1 days rest and are on a 3 game skid.
Previously against the Wolves.(Good win for the Pistons.)
The Them: The Wolves are largely the same as the Pistons left them last. A young team with some old guys to mentor. They are not all that good, but have enough real players that they are not a complete train wreck. (even if it is miserable to watch them sometimes holy crap.) They sport a very decent OffRtg. of 101.4, and a pretty poor DefRtg. of 103.3. Andre Wiggins scores a lot. And despite his jumper totally abandoning him this year, he has managed to still be fairly efficient in his scoring with good inside scoring and getting to the line. Karl Anthony-Towns is still playing at an almost comically high level for a 19 year old, but he does still show some signs of his age, but he can score inside and out, plays generally good defense, and even can throw some good passes. (although to much credit has been given to him for his passing, 1 assist and 2.1 turnovers is not great passing. But that is just one spot where his age shows, he figures to be an excellent passer in a few years.) Zach Lavine is still super bouncy and has found a real lane with his scoring at this point, and in good news for Wolves fans, he has even shown some competency as a PG at times. Ricky Rubio can't shoot, but he is literally one of the best passers you will ever see play the game, and (by most measures) he is actually pretty easily the Wolves best player. Kevin Martin comes off the bench and only plays about 20 minutes a game, sometimes he scores a little, sometimes he doesn't. Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince start but don't actually play all that much. And FWIW in his (very) limited minutes, Kevin Garnett is still really good. Gorgui Deng is big and has some very real skills, and Shabazz Muhammad has a goofy (and effective) inside scoring game. Nemanja Bjelica (I hope that is how it is spelled) has seen his shot fall off a wee bit lately but is still a pretty decent 2 way player. Adrian Payne will probably make a cameo, and he has been on fire from deep and ice cold inside the arc this year. A lot has been made of the Wolves "90s style" offense and for good reason, they like to try and post up and take a lot of midrange jumpers. But for all the grief given for that style of offense, their offense is actually very ok. It is the defense where the issues are, once Garnett leaves the floor after his brief stint at the start of the game the Defense falls off in a pretty big way.
Matchups to watch:
- Andre vs. KAT: KAT gave Andre a little trouble at the start of the game last time these 2 faced off. But Andre figured him out pretty well by the end of the game, and even though he is very impressive for a rookie, KAT is just plain not as good as Andre yet. Andre is a lot bigger and strong as well and should figure to be able to have his way inside. The only hope that KAT really has here is that he is really on target with his jumper because Andre does not like to go out to contest them. So if KAT can manage to really pull Andre out of the paint he might stand a chance, but in the paint KAT figures to not be able to do a ton. Still though, 2 really good, young, big guys going against each other.
- Greater Morris vs. Keeping it up: Morris' last 5 games have seen him score 20, 8, 22, 16, and 17. And that is not on accident. He has been given more shots in the offense and he is still scoring at a pretty solid clip. (That 8 point outing was a game where he only took 7 shots, so once again, not so much a bad game.) Idk for sure if SVG is purposefully giving Morris an expanded role in the offense or if it was just a coincidence, but if we operate under the assumption that it is at least kind of on purpose, if he can continue to score with solid efficiency while increasing his offensive load that would be big. If he can average in the upper teens per game with the rest of his game not falling off then he could legit be the long term answer at forward. (Once again, he could just be on a hot streak, but he has taken a lot more shots the last few games and KCP has taken less, so I think it might be on purpose.)
- KCP vs. Wiggins: Last time Wiggins did pretty well against KCP, and I was very surprised that the Wolves did not feed him more. Even without that, Wiggins is the Wolves primary scorer and he is big enough to give KCP some very real problems. If KCP can give issues to Wiggins then the Wolves most prolific offensive weapon is in trouble, (and ergo their offense as a whole) but Wiggins is big enough that he might have a real advantage.
- Reggie vs. Finding his mojo: Reggie has not been bad, per say, the last couple of games. But he has not been all that good either. He is the Pistons second best player by a fair margin. They need him to not just have "ok" games, he needs to be awesome. Idk if there is a reason for it but regardless he needs to get his mojo back and take over a game.
- Jennings vs. Jennings: He looked very solid in his debut, but it will be something to watch for the next while. He was very pass first against the Knicks so it will be interesting to see how he approaches this game. And the biggest thing to watch for, is when SVG finally pairs Jennings with Jackson on the floor together. (SVG might be waiting to do that for a while until Jennings is really back in the groove of things.) Because whether or not that pairing can make it work has some potentially huge ramifications for not just the rest of this season, but for the future of the franchise as well. (If he fits well and actually does do the whole 6th man role and basically becomes Manu, then the Pistons would have a decent chance of keeping him for the future/he might be that missing piece the team needs so badly. If he does not work with Jackson and he basically has to just be the backup PG then I would think he is gone for sure.) So watch for that, whenever it happens, because that is big.
- Pistons vs. Defensive Effort: I've touched on this quite a bit lately, but the Pistons cannot survive on defense with "normal effort." They need great effort to survive. They have slipped the past few games, they need to get back to great effort. Plain and simple.
So in conclusion.
Cackle with knowing glee if:
KAT is not hitting his jumpers and Andre is absolutely bullying KAT inside.
Greater Morris is actually capable of scoring 17ppg.
KCP contains Wiggins.
Reggie goes super sayian.
Run for the hills if:
KAT starts draining outside shots.
Ricky Rubio picks apart a lazy Pistons defense.
KCP can't guard Wiggins effectively.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Both Jackson and Drummond rebound for very solid games.
Greater Morris scores 20.
Wiggins scores 30.
Pistons win a fairly comfortable game on the back of "The new big 3" of Jackson, Drummond, and Morris.
Brandon Jennings shoots a little bit more.
The Wolves are not all that good, but they are not pushovers. This is theoretically a good game for the Pistons to get back on track though, the Wolves are not as good as the Pistons and are also on the second night of a back to back. So in theory this should be a very nice game for the Pistons. But there have been some real issues the past 3 games that they need to change. One positive though is that I do not forsee Sam Mitchell implementing any creative and daring strategy to keep Andre out of the game.
What do you think? Think Morris could score 18ppg over a season? Think KCP can stop Wiggins? Let me know! We all get smarter!
Also shouts to whoever gave me gold , but in the future, if any of you feel the need to spend money in my honor, just go buy some taco bell and take a picture, and put that picture in the comments here and be all like "This Quesadilla is eaten in remembrance of you."
EDIT: I will probably miss at least the 1st half of the game tonight. If I miss much more than that I would have to try and catch the reply late in the night or something for a recap. I will go into the game thread and say if there will be a recap on normal time, late time, or maybe not at all. (If I can't find a replay/don't want to stay up for the FSD replay I would have to wait like 3 days for the league pass replay to be allowed since I'm in the market.)