By Kevin Sawyer
Pacers: 7-14 (2-9 road)
Margin: -2.8 ppg (-7.7 road)
Last 10: 2-8 (margin -9.1)
Pistons: 11-9 (5-4 home)
Margin: -0.8 ppg (-0.7 away)
Last 10: 4-6 (margin -4.2)
Another day, another short-handed team we should be able to beat easily. The Pacers have been every bit the disappointment the Pistons have this year. Without Mike Dunleavy, who mysteriously discovered how to play basketball last year, the team has been overwhelmed by an intense schedule. Nonetheless, they have logged wins against the Lakers AND Celtics, and rank 14th in Hollinger’s power rankings.
By trading away the oft-injured Jermaine O’Neal, the Pacers filled a huge hole at PG, but also squandered their post game. While Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster keep the Pacers competitive on the boards, there is no go-to presence down low. This wouldn’t be a problem if the Pacers had the shooters to beat bigger teams, but they are a woeful three-point shooting club. Given that they rely on the three-ball, that’s a bad thing.
The team’s ostensible star is Danny Granger, who is putting up big numbers (23 ppg) albeit inefficiently. TJ Ford can only be described as a disappointment, though facing Rajon Rondo three times in 21 games can do that to a man. Without a post presence, teams can force him into his shaky mid-range jumper, which cuts off a major portion of his game.
Rasho Nesterovic and Marquis Daniels, forced to step into larger roles than anticipated, have been tolerably effective, but inconsistent. But what else is new with those two?
(Pacers – (Jermaine O’Neal + Ron Artest)) + (Detroit – Ben Wallace) = Antonio McDyess + Jeff Foster = The end of a rivalry.
Keys for Detroit:
Attack the post: The Pistons have too many big men not to abuse a team like the Pacers. Well, unless Michael Curry doesn’t play any of them. It’ll be hard to fault Amir for not throwing it down if he doesn’t play.
Mind the putbacks: For whatever reason, Jeff Foster discovers his inner Dwight Howard against the Pistons, and grabs like 16 rebounds. With McDyess in the lineup, that shouldn’t happen, but he was in the lineup all the other times. Rasho and Foster are both great offensive rebounders. They’ll make life hell for a small ball lineup.
Stop dribble penetration: Make Danny Granger and TJ Ford dish it off to Marquis Daniels for three, and watch the joy unfold.
Question of the game:
When did we become the OKC Thunder all of a sudden? We have the personnel to tear the bark off this team. If Curry cannot find a way to get it done, then I don’t know what to say.