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Pistons vs. Spurs preview: Pistons head to San Antonio to deal with Gasol and Leonard (probably)

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The road trip continues; is it too much to ask a couple Spurs to rest?

NBA: Preseason-Detroit Pistons at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

A preview for the Spurs’ game? Did I draw the short straw? Can Coach Popovich give me a heads up on who will actually be in uniform?

There are basically two theories on “resting” players:

  1. Players are getting paid to play so play them.
  2. Periodically resting our players gives us the best chance to win in the long run.

Head coaches on each team share different views.

There is no right or wrong but I subscribe to Popovich’s choice. 82 games is a marathon being asked to finish in a sprint’s time. This ain’t your dad’s or even slightly older brother’s NBA. These guys run, cut, jump (some on bad shoes) within one defensive possession more than ever and offense isn’t some iso heavy slug-fest.

It takes a toll.

Game Vitals

When: Friday, November 11th, 8:30p.m. EST

Where: AT&T Center; San Antonio, TX

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Game Analysis

We can all agree that Gregg Popovich is one of the all time best in the business. There are certain things that separate the bad from good and the good from great in the NBA coaching ranks.

X’s and O’s is not one of those things.

All head coaches are (relatively) brilliant in their own right and they all steal from each other. A Horns set is ran by every team in the league. Floppy motion for a shooter or a baseline flex screen is nothing new.

In terms of X’s and O’s, the difference on each team is the personnel being used. Mophatt1 running a zipper cut isn’t going draw the same attention as when Kawhi Leonard does it.

In this sense, the Spurs are loaded.

As the NBA continues to evolve, so does it’s big men. Historically, NBA bigs have more in common with our Andre Drummond than the Spurs’ Pau Gasol.

In the below clip, the Spurs motion into Horns (playmaker up top, two bigs on each elbow and shooters in the corners) the ball is entered to Gasol and he makes a perfect pass to a cutting Leonard. Basketball is an easy game if you let it be (and it sure helps Miami defended this terribly).

Gasol is a very high BBIQ player, opening night against the Warriors, he was one pass ahead of Golden State.

Remember when Brook Lopez unleashed his new found three point stroke on the Pistons?

Gulp.

Gasol has the ability to give Drummond fits; last year, while in Chicago, he had games of 30 and 31 points against Detroit. He can easily take Dre out of his comfort zone and as more seven footers prefer corner threes over establishing post position, Andre Drummond must take them seriously.

*****

Various opinions are clearly allowed but if your opinion includes Kawhi Leonard not being a top five player in the NBA, you’re wrong - no other way to put it; hopefully we can still be internet friends.

Kawhi - 2x DPOY - in known for his defense so we’ll go there.

Same game (and same victim), two completely different types of steals.

In the first sequence, Leonard jumps the passing lane and rips the ball away from Ben McLemore. His calculated risk was more calculated than risk, though.

While Leonard jumped the passing lane, had the pass made it cleanly through, he was still in position to defend. Less-than defenders - most perimeter defenders in the NBA and the guys in your rec league - jump passing lanes by taking chances on passes that have zero chance of being stolen. From there, they run past the play and leave their teammates scrambling.

In the second part, McLemore is hounded by Kawhi Leonard’s active hands. Very few defenders have the ability to check opponents straight up, there is no favoring or shading McLamore to a certain area, it’s just in your chest M2M defense and it’s awesome.

Leonard finished second last year in the MVP race and there is no reason to believe he won’t be up there again. If he does win, expect a big celebration. I mean, look how excitable he can be:

Dude, act like you’ve done it before.

*****

The 2014 NBA Finals was some of the best offense I’ve ever witnessed as San Antonio took Miami’s over aggressive trapping and shoved it down their throat. While I’m shy on giving Popovich credit for creative sets, his ability to put players in a position to succeed is second to none.

This years’ Spurs variation is no different.

Kawhi Leonard can score any way you ask him to.

Neither Gasol nor LaMarcus Aldridge are being asked to do too much.

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are being asked to do just enough.

Guys like Dewayne Deadmon (future Pistons’ backup if history holds), David Lee and Patty Mills are being asked to fill certain roles.

He might ask a lot of his players but those who obey will become champions.

Lineup

Detroit

Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris, Macus Morris

San Antonio

A combination of five players on their roster.

Prediction

You never know what to expect with the Godfather of Rest, however, whoever logs Spur minutes will play hard and give Detroit all they can handle.

Gasol and LMA provide the Spurs with a huge high-low advantage and I’ll be looking for them to capitalize (assuming they’re playing).

Leonard, as stated, will disrupt both ends of the floor and the Pistons don’t have an answer on either side (assuming he’s playing).

Third road game in a row, I don’t like it. 105 - 90, Spurs.