Opponent Scouting: Houston Rockets. (8-7)
Tonight at 8:00pm EST the Pistons will be on the road in Houston to play against the Rockets. The Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, while the Rockets are on 3 days of rest after beating the Kings.
The Rockets have sputtered a bit, but they are starting to get together. Under-estimate at your own risk. The Rockets come into the game with the 12th ranked offense in the NBA by scoring 108.4 points per 100 possessions and the 17th ranked defense by allowing 108.5 points per 100 possessions.
James Harden is still James Harden, the isolation master who is one of the best passers of the generation and will kill you with step-back threes and fouls. His defensive effort comes and goes, but there’s a reason that he’s the MVP. Chris Paul is not what he once was but he’s started to catch on after a really cold start, his passing is excellent of course and he can give you buckets if you are not careful.
PJ Tucker is a big, strong, and stubborn defender who also is shooting the ball at an incredible clip of 44% on 4.8 attempts per game. I’m not sure if that will keep up, but it’s impressive considering how bad a shooter he’s been in the past. Clint Capela is big, athletic, and plays hard. He’s a smart defender who protects the rim and rebounds well, and he is a nice outlet for the Rockets elite playmakers for lobs at the rim on offense.
Eric Gordon is phenomenal but has been very bad to start the season, hopefully he continues to struggle from the field for at least two more games.
James Ennis is the same guy he was with the Pistons last year. Long defender, solid shooter, can get out in transition. Gary Clark plays hard on defense, Gerald Green can shoot.
They have been in a funk, but they have won 4 in a row against some pretty good teams coming into this. If Eric Gordon joins Chris Paul in busting out of his early-season slump then they will really start to tear through teams. Their defense is still a bit suspect, but they’ve got all season got figure that out.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. James Harden: Reggie Bullock and Glenn Robinson are probably going to get torn up by Harden. This will be a decent test of where Casey is on Stanley Johnson right now. If Johnson can’t merit extra minutes in this game then Casey isn’t likely to give extra minutes for almost any matchup.
Drummond vs. Capela: The classic matchup of Drummond going up against a player who people think is on his level but really isn’t. Capela has the size and athleticism to compete with Drummond, and isn’t asked to do nearly as much so he can focus all his energy on Drummond. Andre will have to be ready to compete.
Griffin vs. The Rockets: The Rockets have a couple of decent options for defending Griffin, most notably PJ Tucker, but even if they have not switched as much as last year, they still do it a ton. If the Rockets are too willing to switch little guys onto Blake he will happily feast.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Blake Griffin is mashing James Harden in the post.
Andre Drummond is getting many rebounds.
Reggie Bullock has his hair tied back.
Run for the hills if:
James Harden has 20 free throws by half time.
Chris Paul makes Reggie Jackson fall over in the first minute of the game.
Eric Gordon busts out of his slump.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
The Rockets try to avoid switching Blake Griffin, which opens up holes elsewhere.
One of Harden or Chris Paul struggles for no apparent reason.
Andre Drummond 20/20 (considering just predicting this every game now tbh)
Pistons put forth a great team defensive effort and win a close game.
Pistons 113 - Rockets 108.