After defeating Maccabi Haifa 91-69 in the team's preseason opener Tuesday, the Pistons not only face their first NBA team of the preseason, but also the defending champions Miami Heat.
Game time will tip off at 7:30 pm at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
With significantly better competition, this will be a far better measuring stick of what the Pistons are capable of.
Although we do not know exactly who will suit up for the Miami Heat, all starters as of right now are expected to suit up, including Dwyane Wade, who did not play in the teams first game against Atlanta. "I expect to play against Detroit, and then I'll take it from there," Wade said. "That's the way I'm approaching this." LeBron James also said he hopes to play in the team's two upcoming road games in order to get his legs into condition.
Speaking of Lebron James, he did have some intriguing words to say about the Detroit Pistons.
LeBron on #Pistons: "Only time will tell, but they definitely improved their roster. "[On] paper, they look like they can be pretty good..."— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldFS1) October 10, 2013
LeBron on #Pistons: "They have a lot of talent. If they buy into what Cheeks is trying to preach, they're really going to be pretty good."— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldFS1) October 10, 2013
Assuming Miami plays all it's starters even in limited time due to it being the preseason, there are 5 key things to watch for against Miami:
1. Josh Smith vs. LeBron James
They have matched up plenty of times before, but this will be the first time LeBron will go against Josh on the Pistons. Clearly no single player can stop LeBron, but getting someone similar in size and in athletic proximity should be intriguing to watch. Smith not just against LeBron, but all season will have the luxury of having two bigs behind him for help. If you want to knock off the reigning 3-time Eastern Conference champions, you will have to at least be able to guard James, sometimes.
2.) 3-point shooting
The Pistons shot just 5 for 26 (19.2%) against Maccabi Haifa with Josh Smith of all players hitting 3 out of 4, which means the rest of the Pistons shot 2 for 22 (9.1%). That isn't good for a team that ranked 18th last season in 3 point percentage (35.6%) and tied for 21st in 3's made a game at 6.3. Luigi Datome plans to help that cause but it is unsure whether or not he will play against Miami due to a hamstring problem. Stuckey, Villanueva, Billups, Caldwell-Pope and Brandon Jennings can collectively do better from the perimeter.
3.) The SG competition isn't close to crowning a starter.
First it was reported that it was Rodney Stuckey's job to lose. Then reports said head coach Maurice Cheeks said it is between rookie Kentavious-Caldwell Pope and Stuckey. NOW reports say it is between Chauncey Billups and Rodney Stuckey. Well after the 1st preseason game, it is safe to say nobody has a strong lead on that position. The 3 players combined to shoot 2-22 from the field and missed all 10 of their 3 point attempts. Rookie Kentavious-Caldwell Pope (KCP) looked the worst, pressing his shot and really rushing on offense. He did show some athletic flashes but did nothing great in his first impression. Fortunately for him, neither Stuckey or Billups helped their cases either. If Dwyane Wade is playing, even for a little bit, it will be a good chance for someone to put a mark on the starting SG position.
4. Andre Drummond continues to beast.
Getting a lot of hype this off season for the way he finished last regular season, Andre Drummond wasted no time picking up right where he left off. In just 25 minutes of action against Maccabi Haifa, Drummond netted 17 points on 8-14 shooting (56%) with 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. What stood out is Drummond's ability to run the floor, he can easily beat most bigs down the floor for easy buckets, and of course he is a machine on the defense end, and will probably end up being one of the leagues leading shot blockers. Only shooting 2 freethrows (made 1), hopefully Drummond will get more of a chance to work on the block and show case what Rasheed Wallace has helped him with. Possibly may get some Chris Bosh on him too.
5.) Fast Break
The Pistons were able to register 27 fast break points and get 21 points off of the turnovers they forced. That will be the recipe for how the Pistons must play to compete against some of the better teams, by pushing the ball. They have the athletes and play makers to do it. The Heat are the best at it, so it'll be interesting to see if the Pistons can out pace the Miami Heat, especially early on.
Maccabi Haifa vs Detroit Pistons | October 8, 2013 | HD Highlights | NBA Preseason 2013 (via NBAHighlights2013)
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