Winning is great, especially if you get paid to do it. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the Bucks preview, my under 15s played as well, but went down 47-26. Our stretch big men (no joke, our only two threes of the game were hit by our center and power forward) failed to rebound, and our guards had poor assist to turnover ratios. The hot seat only grows hotter as we fall to 1-3, the fans (parents) are calling for my head.
Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
When: 6:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, November 9, 2014
Exceptionally Detailed Analysis
The Pistons are on a ferocious two-game winning streak, albeit against befuddling opponents in New York and Milwaukee. Both games ended in 98-95 triumphs, with both games featuring sharp marksmanship from downtown. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brandon Jennings have both found their mojo, combining for 34 points on efficient shooting vs. Milwaukee. However, the rotations of SVG continue to both confuse and amuse. Jennings, despite his improved play, often still finds himself on the pine for long stretches while D.J. Augustin chews up minutes. Conversely, Josh Smith has had arguably far too many minutes (despite his admittedly improving play as well) while the likes of Jonas Jerebko have been under-utilized. Of course, we will have a better idea of SVG's rotations later in the season once the injured brigade all return from various maladies, including an improved competition at the SG slot, with Jodie Meeks expected to return in little over a month. Cartier Martin is also always on the precipice of a comeback, but plantar fasciitis is a niggling injury and can stay with you for a while. Against Milwaukee, our former loved ones had mixed games. Brandon Knight had a stat sheet stuffing affair, while Khris Middleton received a "shocking" DNP-CD, according to the man himself.
Still sitting here shocked at what happened... Smh— Khris Middleton (@Khris22m) November 8, 2014
On the topic of Smith, while his volume of shots and general role in the offense is somewhat amiss, I feel he should be given some credit for reigning in his shot selection for the most part. You will always have the occasional head scratching 22-footer with 18 on the shot clock, but they've been gradually reducing game by game. One DBBer mentioned in another thread, I can't remember who, but there was a moment where the shot clock was winding down, and Josh received the ball with about five left in a long-two position. However, as most fans were preparing their vocal cords for a vociferous chorus of "Nooooo", he actually kept the ball moving and found KCP for the open three, which KCP nailed. Small things, sure, but little signs of growth with his decision making. I still feel his best role is as a "point-forward" on the bench unit, playing around 25 minutes per game. His passing is quite good, and he would allow Augustin to play off the ball and not waste the shot clock with his infuriating pounding of the ball for 18 seconds.
The Jazz enter a contest on the back of a 105-82 mauling at the hands of Dallas, Alec Burks scoring a team high 14 points. Rookie Dante Exum added 11 and 5 assists in a career night (six-game career, but still). The Jazz have had a very tough schedule so far, having already faced Houston, LA Clippers, Phoenix, Cleveland, and Dallas twice in their first six games, emerging with a respectable 2-4 record, winning handsomely against Phoenix 118-91 and digging out a gutsy 102-100 triumph over Cleveland, courtesy of a Gordon Hayward buzzer-beater. Looking at that first run of fixtures, all those teams are expected to be well over .500, although some experts are predicting Phoenix as the most likely to suffer a collapse, as their surprise factor from last season has dissipated.
Players To Watch
Pistons: Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe will have an interesting matchup Sunday, going up against Derrick Favors. Favors has found some semblance of good form this season, scoring 16.4 points per game, including a career high 32 vs. the Suns, and 7.8 rebounds. Favors can also be a bruising player, as can back up power forward Trevor Booker. Monroe, however, is quite agile and lithe for a big man, with a vast array of post moves which can make even the sturdiest of defenders look like a shop window mannequin. On the subject of Trevor Booker, since signing for Utah from Washington, he has taken on a Josh Smith 2013-14 type role of thinking he should be shooting three pointers. He's shooting an efficient 6-12, but it would not surprise if he were to regress magnificently over the course of the season. He is a career 10-percent shooter from distance, not counting this season, and had previously only attempted 10 threes in his career, his only make coming in the 2011-12 season with Washington.
Jazz: Dante Exum/Joe Ingles
Of course the real player to watch is Gordon Hayward for basketball reasons, and Trey Burke for the ever present, underlying storyline of the 2013 NBA Draft. But those players are known commodities around these parts, so I will use my preview here for shameless homerism, and bring light to these two talents from down under. Sue me.
Dante Exum, widely dubbed the international man of mystery at the NBA Draft, is only a few months older than me (sad right?), and is the son of UNC product Cecil Exum, who played collegiately alongside James Worthy and some Jordan fellow on a national championship winning team, before playing professionally in Australia, eventually settling here after retirement. His main strengths are his slashing ability and knack for finishing at the ring. He is a streaky jump shooter, and his distributing is a little suspect, but he is excellent at attacking the basket, and has a mountain of defensive potential thanks to his 6-6 frame and 6-9 wingspan.
Joe Ingles is actually from a place in South Australia called Happy Valley, and made his professional debut for an Australian side called South Dragons (now defunct) as an 18 year old in 2006, setting a record for most points in a debut with 29. As an 18 year old. Australian competition aside, sheesh. He spent 3 years in Oz before departing overseas for CB Granada in Spain in 2009, where he would spend a season before joining Barcelona in 2010. He was a teammate of Ricky Rubio, and played in Catalonia for three years before joining the David Blatt-led Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2013, going on to win the Euroleague. He got his first taste of NBA with the Clippers in preseason, but the last roster spot was a contest between him and Jared Cunningham, and Ingles was waived. The Jazz claimed both him and Jordan Hamilton off waivers, waiving Carrick Felix in the process to make room. They would also eventually waive Hamilton. Ingles has received steady minutes in his rookie year, averaging 11.3 minutes per game and scoring 0.7 points. His style of play is akin to a point forward, as he is an excellent passer but can score himself. At 6-8, he struggles defensively, especially against the quicker wings in the NBA.
Last Time We Met
Our last meeting was March 24 in Utah, the Pistons going on to record a 114-94 victory to improve to 26-44. Andre Drummond led the way with 19 and 14 rebounds while Greg Monroe added 18 and 11. Rodney Stuckey scored 19 off the bench. The Jazz were led by Gordon Hayward's 32 and 6 assists.
I predict we will keep this streak going against a Utah squad in rebuild mode. That being said, we are arguably their easiest fixture so far, and they won't be fazed after downing Cleveland earlier in the week.
Pistons 106, Jazz 89
Pistons: Jennings, Caldwell-Pope, Smith, Monroe, Drummond
Jazz: Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors, Kanter
Pistons: Meeks (back), Martin (foot), Datome (hamstring)
Jazz: Hood (plantar fasciitis)
Who will win the Battle of Michigan? Burke or KCP?