Real Life Basketball Update: I'm just gonna chuck this in here every so often to shamelessly self promote. My under 15s have game 5 of the season Saturday at midday (Australian time). The Pistons-Thunder game is also at midday my time, so I will probably miss the first half (sad face). Therefore, if we don't win and improve to 2-3 on our season, I'll be very mad at my squad and make them do suicides.
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
When: 8 p.m. ET; Friday, Nov. 14, 2014
Exceptionally Detailed Analysis
Another 4th quarter collapse is the reason as to why the Pistons are currently 2-6 and not 3-5. However, Friday's matchup provides a very winnable opportunity against a team so injury ravaged and desperate that they signed Ish Smith to a contract. This is a team also running with high school superstar and streetball legend, Sebastian Telfair, as a genuine role player.
The Pistons enter the matchup after a heartbreaking 107-103 loss to the Wizards in D.C. Brandon "SWAG" Jennings led the team with a remarkably efficient 32 points on 11-19 shooting along with 10 assists. Backcourt mate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 points, and the two guards combined for 7-13 from downtown, exceptional production from a noted inefficient backcourt from last season. Andre Drummond continued his rathole of a season, scoring a whole 2 points and pulling down 5 rebounds in 23 minutes. Drummond has looked disengaged at times this season, and was even well away from his teammates' huddle late in the game, apparently zoned out of the situation. His offense has stuttered, his inefficient post play the result of unfamiliarity, but should he put it together, the results may be scary.
The conversation has turned from whether Monroe or Smith should start, to whether Drummond or Smith should start. These rumors have no traction yet, and I highly doubt SVG will do something so bold as to bench his obvious franchise cornerstone, but this tendency for Drummond to fade from games was a legitimate concern back in his UConn days, which is why many believe he fell to us at No. 9 in the draft, because of attitude problems.
The Thunder are a mess, a likable mess. They actually won their last matchup, a 109-94 victory in Boston. Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow both scored 28 points in the triumph, but what I have enjoyed about watching the Thunder play the most is the team spirit and camaraderie they have shown as a unit. I'm a big fan of bench celebrations, which explains my love of Kent Bazemore and Robert Sacre, but Kevin Durant is as vibrant a mascot as they come. The spirit that team has shown is nothing short of remarkable, and I wish them success, just not tonight.
Players To Watch
Pistons: Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings has settled into a groove so far this season. After a slow preseason and first two games, where he was usurped of several minutes by D.J. Augustin, he has bounced back with terrific performances, crescendo-ing into his 32 point outburst against the Wiz. Randy Wittman admitted he didn't think Jennings would miss, and they altered their defensive strategy to deny him his left hand. Jennings will go up against another relatively big PG tonight in Reggie Jackson, who, at 6-3 with long arms, is a decent enough defender to cause problems.
Thunder: Serge Ibaka
Admittedly, the only player of true relevance left standing in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the Serge Protector is their focus both offensively and defensively. Coming into the league, he was primarily a hustle guy who had a knack for blocking shots. Slowly, his offensive game has matured to the point where he is a legitimate 3-point threat, showing similar development in his outside game to Chris Bosh. Our bigs are notoriously terrible at guarding stretch big men, so Ibaka is just another challenge, presumably for Greg Monroe.
Last Time We Met
April 16 was our last meeting with OKC, and it was the game where KCP really showed his mettle with a 30-point outburst. The Thunder still won the game, 112-111, after another 4QC, thanks to 42 Kevin Durant points, but we at least know what KCP can do against a full strength OKC, how about a weakened one? (Yes, I'm suggesting 45 points here, and I will be very disappointed in anything less).
I'm just going to keep predicting wins until one happens. On this 4-game road trip, this game is probably the most winnable, simply due to the Thunder's injuries. Still a close one, though.
Pistons 106, Thunder 100
Pistons: Jennings, Caldwell-Pope, Smith, Monroe, Drummond
Thunder: Jackson, Lamb, Lance Thomas (???), Ibaka, Adams
Cartier Martin and Gigi Datome both practiced Thursday, but Martin is still listed as out. Datome is doubtful.
Pistons: Datome (hamstring), Martin (foot), Meeks (back)
Thunder: Durant (foot), Jerrett (ankle), Jones (knee), McGary (foot), Roberson (foot), Westbrook (hand)
Is there any credence to the logic of starting Drummond on the bench?