Two of the five worst teams in the NBA face off tonight as the Detroit Pistons play the New Jersey Nets in the first game of a home-and-home. While the Pistons are waiting out the onerous contracts of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva as they chart a path to respectability, the Nets are playing a waiting game of their own -- the Dwight Howard Waiting Game.
If New Jersey can swing a trade for the big man, the odds of being able to re-sign point guard Deron Williams greatly increase, which would give the Nets two great building blocks as they move into new digs in Brooklyn. If they don't land Howard, Williams might leave in free agency or be traded for pennies on the dollar, leaving the Nets with about $40 million in cap space and nobody to spend it on.
In the meantime, these two bottom feeders will battle for pride on the court while their respective fanbases root for lottery balls off the court. Not to say that I don't want the Pistons to win while I'm watching them, but once it's over and i accept the inevitable defeat, I click on over to watch Kentucky, Kansas, UConn and North Carolina. And dream. Just sayin'.
Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
Detroit Pistons: 6 - 20 (1 - 12 road)
New Jersey Nets: 8 - 18 (3 - 8 home)
According to Keith Langlois, there is a chance the trio of Brandon Knight, Gordon and Will Bynum will all be available for the game tonight. If that happens, it will be interesting to see how the minutes shake out.
On the other hand, the M*A*S*H list for the Nets is pretty significant, with MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez, Damion James, Memhet Okur, Deshawn Stevenson and Keith Bogans all out with various injuries. Those injuries mean that the Nets big-man rotation consists of the productive big man everyone loves to hate in Kris Humphries, top-five bust Shelden Williams, first-round bust Johan Petro and rookie second-round pick Jordan Williams.
In the Nets previous loss to the Chicago Bulls, those players combined for 12-for-27 shooting, 14 rebounds, and zero blocks in a combined 88 minutes,14 seconds of action. I know the Pistons aren't the Bulls, far from it in fact, but Detroit must take advantage of the Nets front line if it wants to be successful.
Keys of the Game:
Set the Moose loose - Shelden Williams is still in the NBA because he is 6-foot-9 and was at one time a respectable defender. But Greg Monroe's offense, even in only his second year, is much better than Williams' defense. And the disparity will grow as New Jersey gets into its bench. Moose needs the ball early and often, and then even oftener.
Prevent guard penetration - The only time New Jersey is effective is when Deron Williams and backup Jordan Farmar can dictate things on the offensive end. Williams is having a terrible time shooting the ball this year, hovering at around 40 percent, including 33 percent from three. But if the Pistons allow him to penetrate he is still one of the best in the NBA at finding his teammates' open shots, including sharpshooter Anthony Marrow who hits 45 percent from long range.
Farmar is having the best season of his career with an insane 59 percent true-shooting percentage. The Pistons should key on him when the bench players are on the floor and make other (offensively inept) players beat them.
Defend the paint, rebound solid rotations - The Pistons defense has been a mess this season and that is putting things kindly. In the whirlwind that has been the first quarter of this season the Pistons have hardly had a moment to breathe let alone practice. Well, the Pistons are coming off of two consecutive victories and have had the past three days off. I'm assuming the team put that time to good use with some solid practices, and I look for the proof of that effort to be on display tonight .
Questions of the Game:
This is a scary question but I'll ask it anyway: Who is the second-best player on the Detroit Pistons? It shouldn't be as hard a question to answer as it is. Rank the Williamses: The Nets roster consists of Deron Williams, Shawne Williams, Shelden Williams and Jordan Williams. Rank them from best to worst.
Who is the Detroit Pistons second-best player?
This poll is closed