It will be Jonas Jerebko vs. David Lee in a battle of undersized, white power forwards. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
I know that it's Sunday -- a day of rest -- but I'm hoping a little math lesson won't hurt anybody. It's called the transitive property and it's pretty simple. If A > B and B > C, then A > C. Well, this game is the NBA version of the transitive property. The Detroit Pistons are coming off of a "dominant" 98-81 victory over the hapless Charlotte Bobcats on Friday. The Golden State Warriors last game was a 112-100 loss to those same hapless Bobcats on Saturday. Well, if the Pistons are better than the Bobcats, and the Bobcats are better than the Warriors, the Pistons should be better than the Warriors. It's science. Or math. Or math science!
Game Tips at 6:00 P.M. EST
Detroit Pistons: 3 - 9 (2 - 3 home)
Golden State Warriors: 3 – 8 (0 – 4 away)
The Pistons looked like they were grasping a lot more of coach Lawrence Frank's offensive and defensive philosophy in Friday's victory against the Charlotte Bobcats. Passes were crisper, offensive sets didn't take as long to develop, and the team got off a lot of open looks inside and outside of the paint. Of course, that might be more of a product of an undersized team finally playing an opponent with even more size issues than itself. The Pistons were +16 in points in the paint and +12 in rebounding.
The Warriors are another poor defensive team with a lack of quality big men. The Warriors will start David Lee and Andris Biedrins (playing for injured former Piston Kwame Brown) at power forward and center, respectively. In the Charlotte game coach Mark Jackson opted to go small and sprinkle in a series of big men for limited minutes, trotting out the likes of Dominic McGuire, Ekpe Udoh, Earl Barron, Jeremy Tyler and Chris Wright. None played more than 17 minutes, including starter Biedrins, and none were particularly effective.
This is a great opportunity for Greg Monroe to dominate. He will be matched up against a series of sub-par defenders, and he is smart enough to use their aggressiveness and desire for blocked shots against them. Monroe's jab step and penchant for slicing through the paint, not to mention his passing ability, should be on full display today. Look for Moose to go full beast mode, as the kids say.
Keys to the Game:
Jonas Jerebko must contain David Lee -- David Lee can rebound and score, especially against smaller players. Jonas Jerebko has to get good positioning on the glass, and keep Lee off of the boards. JJ is coming off a great game against Charlotte, with 22 points and 9 rebounds. Jerebko will need to step up again. No foul trouble. No jacking up terrible shots.
Detroit must contain Monta Ellis -- An even bigger challenge for the Pistons will be to contain Monta Ellis on the offensive end. The Pistons allowed DJ Augustin to drop 13 dimes on them in the Charlotte game. Ellis is averaging more than 7 assists and 23 points per game and could slice up the Pistons defense if they're not careful.
Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey will probably get the lion's share of the minutes defending Ellis and both have the size and speed to pester him. Ellis is an inefficient player who will jack up shots despite how effectively the opposing team is defending him. Detroit won't stop him from scoring 20, but they should try and make him take more than 25 shots to get there.
Paging Ben Gordon -- The Warriors give up a lot of points, and a scorer like Ben Gordon should be able to take full advantage of the Warriors leaky defense. Gordon needs to assert himself offensively. Shoot the 3-pointer effectively and efficiently, continue to be a willing passer and drive in for short, high-percentage jumpers.
Get to the free-throw line -- An extra key in honor of the return of Stuckey. Stuck only got to the free-throw line four times against the Bobcats, sinking all four. The Warriors foul. A lot. In fact, they rank dead last in the NBA in opponents free-throw rate. Stuckey should be able to get 10+ free throws in this game if he plays enough minutes.
Question(s) of the Game:
Will this be the game that Greg Monroe legitimately enters the all-star discussion? Can Jonas Jerebko remain consistent? Can the Pistons keep their turnovers down for the second consecutive game?