Opponent Scouting: San Antonio Spurs. (15-8)
Tonight at 8:30pm EST the Pistons will be on the road to play the Spurs. The Spurs are playing their second night in a row after losing to the Thunder last night, but a bunch of their guys rested last night, while the Pistons will be on one day of rest but are playing their 3rd game in 4 nights.
The Spurs are still the Spurs in case anyone was wondering. They feature the NBA's second stingiest defense at 100.2 points allowed per 100 possessions, play at the second slowest pace in the NBA, and rank just 18th in offense by scoring 104.3 points per 100 possessions, which is still good for a net rating of +4.2 which ranks 5th in the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard is still out, but the Spurs keep Spursing. LaMarcus Aldridge has totally come alive and is averaging 23 points per game on really good efficiency and don't forget that he still defends. Aldridge is back in the post and dominating fools with silky jumpers and great footwork closer to the hoop. Beyond Aldridge though, they are as much the stereotypical the Spurs as you could imagine. The second leading scorer is Rudy gay at 12(!!) points per game, (and there is a chance he misses the game) he is still a skilled and bruising big wing scorer but he hasn't had the revolutionary game change some thought he might with the Spurs. Pau Gasol is scoring 11 per game and can still pass and is shooting really well. Danny Green is one of the best 3 and D guys in the entire NBA, Patty Mills is a ball of energy and fearlessness. Kyle Andreson had been playing very well and even though nothing official has come out (I think) I doubt he is playing after getting hurt in their last game. Manu Ginobili is still the same sneaky veteran he has been for some time now, Tony Parker only just returned from injury and looks alright. Dejounte Murray is a ball of athleticism who is learning to play point guard at a high level but he is showing great progress for such a young player. Bryn Forbes is a guard, Davis Bertans is big and fairly skilled. Even though he probably won't play, Pistons fans can watch for Darrun Hilliard who is currently on the Spurs roster.
This team is not overly skilled (especially till Kawhi returns) but they play hard, don't screw up, and know what their strengths are. Every single cliché you could ever think to give to the Spurs is applicable to this one.
Matchups to watch:
Drummond vs. Gasol: Gasol has struggled hugely with Drummond over the past few years. Gasol can give Drummond some trouble with his shooting, but beyond maybe splashing a few jumpers this should be all Drummond and is the only clear advantage the Pistons have going into this game.
Pistons vs. Aldridge: Big and skilled power forwards have given the Pistons fits for over 2 years now and this is no different. Tobias Harris will have to bring it defensively and his teammates will need to be ready to help when it is needed. On the flip side, Harris should be able to get some back with his shooting and speed advantage.
Pistons vs. Energy: Even though they had the day off and the Spurs are on a back to back, the Spurs rested a bunch of guys and it is 3rd in 4 nights for the Pistons. If they come out slow or tired the Spurs will probably kill them. Can't have that.
Pistons vs. Getting right: The Wizards loss wasn't good, but the Sixers one wasn't all that bad. When you have a stretch of tough games (which the Pistons are in the middle of an absolutely brutal stretch) you will lose some. The important thing is to steal enough to stay afloat. Tonight is a fine night to do that.
Bench mob vs. Run, run run: The Spurs bench played a lot last night. The Pistons bench loves to run. It is entirely reasonable to suggest that this should end well for the Pistons, also the Pistons bench just kind of needs to get back after a couple of not so good games.
Pistons vs. Shooting: There isn't any one guy that really stands out, but they have been off from deep the last two games shooting just 30% from three in each. From the eye test, it wasn't really that they were forced into worse shots, its that they missed too many. They need to get that back going.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Drummond is the kind of athletic problem that has always been the Spurs kryptonite.
The Pistons manage to keep Aldridge in check.
The Pistons recover shooting from three after two bad outings to bury the Spurs in a hail of fire.
Run for the hills if:
Aldridge is scoring almost at will.
The Pistons look tired.
The Pistons keep clanging away from deep.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
20/20 night for Drummond.
Aldridge scores a lot of points.
No one else on the Spurs has a good game.
Pistons ride a huge night from Drummond and find some shooting to win a close game.
Pistons 97 – Spurs 93.