Game Tips at 8:00 P.M. EST.
Detroit Pistons: 0 - 1 (0-0 at home)
Oklahoma City Thunder: 1 - 0 (0-0 away)
Will Bynum is out with a hamstring injury. Early reports are that it isn't serious, but he won't be playing tonight.
Oppo Research: For all that Kevin Durant is as a player, the Thunder are really going to need Russell Westbrook to emerge as a star if they are going to be a championship contender. The guy has shown signs of being a poor man's Rajon Rondo, and had an outstanding playoff series against the Lakers last year.
Predictably, Westbrook destroyed Derrick Rose, posting 28 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists off of only 15 field goal attempts. Suffices to say, Rodney Stuckey will have his hands full here.
The Thunder have surrounded Durant and Westbrook with an increasingly imposing, albeit unheralded, slate of defenders and rebounders. OKC was above average in each respect, though unspectacular on either end of the court.
There are a few weak spots. Did anyone think Daequan Cook would factor prominently in the Thunder rotation? Also, Cole Aldrich apparently isn't as NBA ready as one might have assumed. This will give the Pistons some breathing room to deal with their own very thin front court.
Keys to the Game:
Defend Westbrook. After game one, he's the Thunder MVP. Like Rajon Rondo, he won't put up spectacular numbers generally, but he will eat weaker PGs alive on both ends of the court.
Just say no to ISO. The Pistons clocked 22 assists in the opener, but a good number of those came outside of the flow of the game. This team simply has too many weapons to keep forcing low-percentage shots.
Daye, play. The brightest spot on our roster coming into the opener, Austin Daye had arguably his worst game as a pro. It seems reasonable to chock this up to opening day jitters, and the Pistons should have won regardless, but this is exactly the sort of team Daye should be able to thrive against, since he can largely focus on his offensive game.
Question of the Game:
Until Detroit wins one, the questions will be too numerous to count. Okay, that's no fun. How about this, can Stuckey show up Westbrook? That will be the matchup to watch, I think.