Okay, wishful thinking, I know. The thought of Josh Smith playing alongside Greg Monroe in Detroit is terribly exciting, as few frontcourt players match up so perfectly. The Atlanta Hawks have reportedly received a trade request from Josh Smith, and we Pistons fans have been discussing such an option for many years. As the Pistons and the Hawks face off at the Palace tonight, the potential for a trade between these two teams will be more exciting than the game itself. Okay, maybe not to Hawks fans...
Game Tips at 7:30 p.m. EST
Atlanta Hawks: 23 - 16 (11 - 10 road)
Detroit Pistons: 13 - 26 (10 - 11 home)
Holy dyslexic record, batman. Back in January, the last time these two teams met, I talked through the Hawks woes in our game preview here. It bears repeating today, since Smith's status in Atlanta has changed from emo to screamo. With an out-for-the-season Al Horford and a $107M Joe Johnson with tendinitis, the Hawks might have an even itchier trigger finger as we approach the trade deadline next week.
What might a Josh Smith trade look like if Detroit is in the dealings? While we discussed this in greater detail in our NBA Trade Rumors: Atlanta Edition post last week, the short of it is that Detroit would need to send out its 2012 lottery pick and Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey is having the best season of his career, playing as one of the top 10 shooting guards in the NBA (seriously, a post to come on this over the weekend). Detroit's lottery pick should be in the 4 to 8 range, good enough for players like Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger, Thomas Robinson, etc. Detroit would probably better off keeping Stuckey and the pick (or at least swapping picks), but it has the assets to make a deal happen.
Oh, right, and tonight's game? Well Atlanta is playing better without Joe Johnson, which should come as a surprise to few. Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Jeff Teague and Willie Green are questionable for tonight's game, and Al Horford and Jason Collins are still out. Even when they are hobbled with injuries, Atlanta has a solid lineup, so tonight's game will not be easy.
Keys to the Game:
Defend the Paint: Tonight might be another game to ask Ben Wallace if he's got some gas in the tank. Atlanta is effective on post-up and pick-and-roll plays, two things Detroit has trouble defending. Even without Al Horford, Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia are making teams pay with a very deliberate set of plays.
Feed the Moose: Shoot through the pain, young man. Your stroke has struggled in March, but you'll find it.
Time for Change: With the second-to-worst offense in the league, it's time for Detroit to change things up. Okay, maybe that time is after the trade deadline. But if Tayshaun isn't moving to another team, it's time to move him to the bench. Give Jonas Jerebko his shot at small forward. Try starting Ben Gordon on the ball (insane, I know, but anything is worth a shot at this point). Give Vernon Macklin a tangible role. The only thing Detroit loses by trying is wins. And if Detroit isn't winning, it's looking better for the draft lottery in June.
Question of the Game: