Opponent Scouting: Atlanta Hawks. 38 - 29.
Sorry about missing the last game. I actually watched it, but had some other stuff going on and was like "I don't wanna talk about it." Just know that it was a combination of literally everything that could have gone wrong. It was miserable.
Tonight the Pistons will be hosting the Hawks at the Palace at 7:30 EST. The Pistons are of course coming off of one days rest after a throttling at the hands of the Wizards, and the Hawks are also on one days rest following a win over the Pacers.
The Them: A lot has been made of how this team is just not as good as last year, and that is true. But they are still a pretty stinking good team. They play cohesive defense anchored by some killer defenders and good coaching on their way to a really solid 98.6 DefRtg. And they do the whole "passy-shooty" thing a lot on their way to a pretty solid OffRtg. of 102.7. Paul Millsap really leads the way for the team, (and a guy I have been a big fan of for a while, although his all star appearances now mean he is not the most criminally underrated guy in the NBA anymore.) scoring just over 17ppg. He scores in a variety of goofy isolations and post ups. And the occasional spot up look (although he is not a very good outside shooter he can hit the 3). Al Horford locks down the center spot and is a really good defender who can protect the rim and stick with quicker guys outside. Kent Bazemore and Kyle Korver pair up on the wing, Korver is a crazy good 3 point shooter who is smart enough and plays hard enough that he is at least capable in every other area of the game. Kent Bazemore is basically KCP if KCP was as good a shooter as people think he should be. And Jeff Teague is still holding down the starting PG spot, and he can really get to the hoop but is not a very reliable shooter. Off the bench Deniis Schroder still is massacring backups by going to the hoop relentlessly, Thabo Sefolosha is still plugging away as a solid 3 and D type. Kris Humphries is a good rebounder and at least somewhat capable at everything else as a backup center. Tim Hardaway Jr. will play some but his shooting is largely back in the "theoretical" realm. Mike Scott is a combo forward who can do a bit of everything, Kirk Hienrich is still scrappy, and Mike Muscala is freaking tall. This is a solid team with some very real depth. This is a good team.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Their new assholes: SVG tore them a new one that is for sure. I don't think they will come out flat again, I don't think the Wizards game is a inditement on the rest of the season or on this team, and I don't ever subscribe to the thought process of being personally offended when a team plays like absolute crap. All that said, it can't happen again, and they have to respond in a big way now that they are back home.
Steve Blake vs. Schroder: Schroder was the first guy to expose Blake as being freaking horrible right at the start of the season. He is exactly the sort of dude Blake literally cannot guard at all. As such I imagine that SVG will give him to someone else, but it will still happen. And when it does, Blake is going to be murdered.
Andre vs. Everyone: Ok so this is mostly for Al Horford but still. Andre is crazy important to the Pistons, and Al Horford is really important for the Hawks. There is a good chance that whoever wins that matchup will win the game.
Pistons vs. Millsap: Millsap is actually the sort of guy who might be fairly guard-able for the Pistons combo forwards. But regardless, Millsap is super good, so they will have to collectively find a way to keep him from having too much success.
KCP vs. Korver: KCP is going to be chasing Kyle Korver all game around thousands of screens. If he had his wheaties in the morning this will be a non issue. If he doesn't though....
So in conclusion...
Cackle with knowing glee if:
The Pistons play so hard they look awesome.
Every starter has dove for a loose ball by halftime.
Kent Bazemore is not big enough to stop either Harris or Morris.
Run for the hills if:
Millsap gets off to a good start.
Dennis Schorder literally kills Steve Blake right there on the floor.
The Pistons are down by 20 at the end of the first quarter.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
All the Pistons play hard as hell and have a bounce back game.
Steve Blake gets crucified.
Pistons get a great all around effort and start the home stand off right.
What do you think? Think Blake will survive? Think they'll fight back? Let me know! We all get smarter!