So, the game starts in three hours. I haven't watched as much Pistons basketball as I had originally hoped to when I signed up for writing the preview. I was going to wow you all with my BBIQ. Instead, you're going to get this hack-a-preview. Since I don't know a whole lot about the Pistons, consider this as much a "scouting report" of the Spurs as it is an actual "game preview". Enjoy.
The matchup most interesting to me is between Detroit's frontline of
Jonas Jerebko and Greg Monroe vs San Antonio's Dejuan Blair and Tim Duncan. Duncan, for those of you who haven't been following too closely, is having a solid stretch of games, putting up several double doubles over the past few weeks- in under 30 minutes of play. He is still the most efficient player in basketball. He has, though, lost most of his power moves and is more of a finesse and jump shooting player now. Moose is going to have his hands full, but I'm especially curious to see how this plays out. On the other end, Duncan will also have his hands full. No sugarcoat- Moose is probably the best young big in the league and one of my current favorite non-Spurs.
Dejuan Blair has been completely hit or miss. His rebounding numbers are down, his scoring average is about the same, and his defense has largely left a lot to be desired. That said,
Jerebko is going to be a great matchup. Dejuan is a little finesse with a whole lot of power, and typically the Spurs first few plays runs through him. Expect to see a quick post up, the Spurs patented "4-down" post-iso play, and a couple pick and rolls with Tony Parker to start the game. If Jerebko has problems stopping him 1-on-1, I wouldn't be surprised to see Pop continue to call Blair's number.
You can ignore many of the references in that last paragraph, as apparently Jason Maxiell is starting (shows you how out of date I am). While not as exciting to me as Blair/Jonas, Blair/Maxiell is going to be fun. The burger eater vs the baby eater. Honestly, though, if I'm the Pistons, I'd put the bruiser Maxiell on Duncan and let Monroe handle Blair. If Maxiell can be physical with Duncan without fouling, there's a good chance Detroit wins the overall frontcourt matchup. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Blair guarding Moose (in another battle of beasts) as Dejuan has recently been given the responsibilities of guarding other teams post scorers- and he's done so efffectively against Luis Scola and the half of Dirk Nowitzki that showed up to play so far this season. Likewise, if Blair can cover Monroe without fouling, it's likely the Spurs win the front court matchup.
I haven't talked much about the Spurs backcourt. Tony Parker, of course, is the starting point guard and he is likely going to make the rookie Brandon Knight look like a rookie and the veteran Rodney Stuckey look like a rookie. He's been playing that well lately. Getting into the lane, hitting jump shots...and averaging a career high in assists.
The Spurs starting shooting guard, since Manu Ginobili's injury, has been a rotation of Gary Neal (an efficient Ben Gordon), Kawhi Leonard (a defender extraordinaire) and Danny Green (kind of like diet-Manu). Whichever two don't start, lead the bench unit with Tiago Splitter and everyone's favorite ginger Matt Bonner. Bonner is having his second career year in a row, and has added some defense and rebounding to his game- and also a weird little floating hook teardrop shot that we aren't sure exactly what it is so we call it a "shyhook". Splitter is the best backup big in the league right now, hands down, and in his second season with the Spurs is finally reminding everyone why he was drafted. He blocks shots, rebounds, sets excellent screens, and yes, he occasionally dunks.
Oh, yeah. Manu Ginobili returned from injury Saturday and is playing himself back in to shape. Pencil him in for 15-20 minutes tonight.
To get a win, Detroit is going to need solid contributions from everyone on both ends- but especially so on defense. The Spurs, according to Hoopdata, have the 7th most efficient offense in the league...but that was before Manu returned. Disciplined defense, closing out on the Spurs 3pt shooters, owning the glass and not fouling will give Detroit it's best chance. You can beat the Spurs if you shut down the role players and Tony Parker. The problem is that there are a lot of role players to shut down, and all of them have shown they are capable of doing more than just one thing. Quickness and length to keep Parker out of the paint, forcing Duncan to take fade-a-ways, and preventing open 3's gives Detroit a chance to win. If they don't do that, their chances of winning the lottery increase.
I've been counting down the days to this game since the lockout ended. Good luck, DBB, and may the red pandas be with us all.