Joe Johnson torched the Detroit Pistons for 34 points in Saturday's home opener against the Brooklyn Nets, torching Kyle Singler in the first half and then Caron Butler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope down the stretch. Unfortunately for the Pistons, things won't get easier Wednesday when Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks arrive looking to improve upon their 2-2 record.
The Pistons took two of three games from New York last season, but you can hardly fault Anthony, who averaged 29 points on 49.2 percent shooting. Anthony was especially dangerous beyond the arc, where he converted 11 of 17 3-point attempts.
How will Stan Van Gundy try to slow him down? After watching a trio of swingmen get burned over the weekend, he hinted that might Josh Smith might get a shot. He admitted to thinking about trying Smith on Johnson on Saturday but didn't feel comfortable doing it with a lack of practice — something the team's had plenty of this week. From Keith Langlois at Pistons.com:
The choice comes down to whether Van Gundy wants to put Josh Smith on Anthony for as many minutes as possible, which would lead to Smith being joined in the starting frontcourt by both Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
"It would be a matter of do you start both with Josh at the three and Greg at the four or do you stay the way we’ve been at the beginning of the game," he said. "That’s something we’ll have to talk about. You’ll see both – it’s just a matter of where we start."
I'm not optimistic that lineup will work — Smith hardly contained Anthony in three games last year — but Van Gundy doesn't have a great deal of options given the way Singler, Butler and KCP defended Johnson. But in addition to spending time in practice preparing for the triangle offense, which the Pistons obviously don't have much experience facing, the Pistons also stressed making life easier for Anthony's primary defender with better help defense. From David Mayo of MLive:
"If you go back and look at the film, and watch the way that Joe Johnson got started on his big night, those were baskets that could have been prevented with just basic help defense," Van Gundy said. "We let him get four easy baskets, and two free throws on a cut, where all we had to do was be in position and we take away all of those.
"When you get a guy like him going, then even if you take away the easy stuff, now he's feeling it and everything's easy."
Now your thoughts.