Two of the Eastern Conference's worst teams face off to make one fan base feel better, even if it is only for one night.
We enter this game chock full of good news -- the Pistons are coming off their first win of the season and looking to establish it's first winning streak. They play only their third game at home this season. The team is 1-0 against the Eastern Conference. Kyle Singler is staying in the starting lineup because Rodney Stuckey thinks it will be good for the team and his game if he comes off the bench. Great news all around!
Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
The Pistons aren't the only team that looks like they will be sporting a different lineup than usual -- the Magic look like they will see the return of starting point guard Jameer Nelson after a six-game absence. As mentioned earlier, after a request from Rodney Stuckey, Lawrence Frank has backtracked from earlier statements and decided to bring Stuckey off the bench and start rookie Kyle Singler at shooting guard.
Singler and Brandon Knight might mesh better than Stuckey and Knight, who are both ball-dominant score-first guards who need the ball in their hands. Singler can spot up and shoot the 3-pointer, is a willing passer, a so-far capable defender and will defer when needed and only take the best shots.
Additionally, Stuckey can play more of his natural game off the bench -- handling the ball and looking to drive to the hoop and either get to the line or pass it to an open teammate as the defense collapses. No longer will we be forced to see Stuckey standing still on the perimeter waiting to take a long jumper, a shot he converts at a low percentage.
The Magic, meanwhile, are starting the long, painful process of moving on from Dwight Howard. They have one of the worst offenses in the NBA, which isn't surprising given the fact that the team leader in shots is Glen Davis (by 18 shots!), and players like Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington have missed most of the season due to injury.
Keys to the Game
Stuckey > Bynum - In a perfect world a sixth-man Stuckey would completely supplant Bynum in the rotation. I have a feeling, however, that Frank wants to play Stuckey and Bynum off the bench together. Kim English's long-range shooting and defense fits much better with Stuckey but I fully expect to see Bynum on the floor tonight. With that said, the team need to give a lot of the ball-handling and offensive responsibility to Stuckey. Other than Charlie Villanueva, who has played a paltry nine minutes, Bynum has the highest usage rate on the team. That is despite the fact that he is not producing on the offensive end. He has the lowest offensive win shares on the team. Granted, he is tied with Stuckey but I expect Rodney to rebound to past performance much more than I expect Bynum to improve his game.
Win the board war - Neither the Pistons or the Magic are good rebounding teams but the Pistons are coming off of a monster showing on the boards in Philly. Davis and Nikola Vucevic are good defenders but a combination of Greg Monroe, Jason Maxiell and *cough* Andre Drummond should be able to outrebound the Magic, get putback opportunities and pass out to teammates for second-chance opportunities.
Brandon Knight could have a big night - Jameer Nelson is coming back from an injury and is not known for his terrific athleticism. The Magic don't force a lot of turnovers. That means a lot of the things Knight struggles with won't be as big an issue tonight. If Knight can keep the turnovers low and use his athleticism to get high-percentage shots near the basket then BK can quiet his critics for one more night at least.
Questions of the Game:
Yes or no: Breakout game for Rodney Stuckey?