Opponent Scouting: Miami Heat: (21-21)
Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will host the Miami Heat at the LCA. The Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Magic on Wednesday, while the Heat are on two days of rest after getting obliterated by the Bucks.
The Heat are largely the same team, at least in spirit, that they have been for the past few years. A mostly ragtag band of slightly overpaid role-players who play hard and have an awesome coach. Their relentless drive and kick offense is one of the best plug and play systems in the NBA as far as making even the strangest lineup combinations work, and they play hard and execute on defense.
They come into the game with the 22nd ranked offense in the NBA and the 8th ranked defense which is good for the 17th net rating.
The Heat are led by Josh Richardson these days with Goran Dragic out for several more weeks. Richardson is a good shooter, tough defender, and can really create for himself. Justise Winslow is nominally playing point guard now with Dragic out and he’s done fine there, finding an outside shot has been huge for him but he still struggles with efficiency. Hassan Whiteside is still around, he blocks a lot of shots. Rodney McGruder can shoot, James Johnson is big, strong, athletic, and fairly skilled. Tyler Johnson is comically overpaid now but is still a nice swiss army knife off the bench. Bam Adebayo is big, springy, and fun. Dwayne Wade is still doing his old-man game thing and even though he’s not that good anymore he can still get some buckets. Derrick Jones is sort of a non-descript bench small forward, Kelly Olynyk is the tall white guy who can shoot. Dion Waiters just got back from injury, and Wayne Ellington can really shoot.
Just a team full of dudes who know how to play.
Matchups to watch:
Heat vs. Blake Griffin: Last time around they had Winslow guard him a lot, I don’t know if they want to do that still with him playing point guard. They’ve got other good options, but it will be interesting to see what they throw at Blake.
Drummond vs. Whiteside: Whiteside isn’t as featured as he once was but these are still two behemoths. Drummond typically gets the better of Whiteside but Whiteside’s length will give Drummond some issues.
Pistons vs. Continuing to hold on: Once again. The Pistons are still (hilariously) still very much in the playoff picture if they start to win a few games. A second straight win over fellow competitors for the bottom few spots would be a good step.
Luke Kennard vs. Shooting: SHOOT THE BALL LUKE.
Bruce Brown vs. Corner 3s: A potentially important development. Brown is still a terrible shooter/scorer overall, but he’s shooting 41% from the corners. If he can maintain something like that, he’s got at least one real building block.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Blake Griffin is still on that same stuff as last time out.
Andre Drummond continues to be that much better than Whiteside
Justise Winslow is Bruce Brown with more fanfare.
Run for the hills if:
Kelly Olynyk gives the Pistons PTSD from last season
Dion Waiters decides that this is one of the five times per season he’s awesome.
The relentless Heat defense is far too much for the Pistons stagnant offense. (it probably will be)
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Josh Richardson scores a lot of points.
The Pistons have several possessions where they all look confused about why the Heat move so much.
Pistons 111 - Heat 105.