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Pistons vs. Clippers preview: Detroit heads west to start four game road trip

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Starting in Los Angeles, the trip also includes stops in Phoenix, San Antonio, and Denver.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

I’m an EST Guy and have been an EST Guy my entire life. The whole PST scene gives me chills. I wouldn’t wish a tip off of 7:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on my worst EST enemy; it seems cruel and unusual.

I’m off work at 5 p.m. - tell me NBA, what am I suppose to do for five and half hours? Go ahead Adam Silver, I’ll wait for you to answer, I mean, I’ve got nearly six hours to kill! The new CBA should include an agreement of start times of no later than 8pm EST. How does that affect the west coast teams? Um, I don’t really care.

Should you choose to stay up or DVR and watch in the morning like I do, you’re in for a treat.

The Clippers are a very good basketball team whose recent playoff history is full of “what ifs.” I fully expect CP-Blake-DJ to give the Warriors all they can handle and who knows, if karma is a real thing, it could be the Clippers representing the West come June.

Game Vitals

When: Monday, November 7 at 10:30 EST

Where: Staples Center; Los Angeles, CA

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Game Analysis

The obvious match-up headliner is DeAndre Jordan vs. Andre Drummond, we’ll get to them. First I want to start with a not so obvious comparison.

Chris Paul and Ish Smith.

These two couldn’t be further apart on the NBA pecking order. Paul, is a superstar bound for Springfield. Smith, a journeymen who just might’ve found a home in Detroit; as the saying goes “Your eleventh try is the charm.”

While the talent gap is wide, they do share a common love for snaking the pick and roll.

Among other things, Paul is an expert at snaking and loves to take advantage of a slow footed big. Above, Paul uses a DJ screen and when Steven Adams meets him to block further penetration, Paul goes butt-to-butt with Jordan and “snakes” around Adams to create space to nail the mid-range. It’s a thing of beauty.

As we all know by now, Ish Smith isn’t exactly the shooting marksmen that Paul is. While CP snakes to further his advantage, Smith uses the same move out of necessity as he needs all the space he possibly can create to generate a clean look.

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Obviously with rim runners DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond, both teams lean heavily on the pick and roll. One of the more effective ways the Clippers start their offense is to “screen the screener.”

Here, Matt Barnes begins the play by screening for Jordan. By doing this, DJ’s man (Kevin Durant) is scrambling from the get-go. Durant, as nimble as a seven footer can possible be, initially shuts the play down. As Jordan rolls to the basket, the play resets. This time, Blake Griffin offers a more conventional screen and when Serge Ibaka overplays it, Griffin slips the screen and CP finds him with an easy route to the hoop.

This type of action isn’t unique to LAC but their personnel allows it to be efficient. By “screening the screener,” the Clipp-Joint put opponents in a frantic game of catch up and with athletes like Jordan and Griffin, this usually favors Doc Rivers and the rest of the Clippers.

Here’s a screen shot of another classic LAC set early in the possession:

Now, pay close attention to the vaunted CP-Griffin pick and roll.

Did you focus on CP and Griffin? Well, jokes on you. That’s exactly what they wanted you to do. The P&R is a misdirection to set up Redick for the three ball. Don’t worry, Brandon Knight fell for it too, right under the basket he realizes he’s been had.

The Clippers are a fun team.

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Remember this?

Usually, I’m on Andre Drummond’s case for doing nothing, in this instance, “doing nothing” would’ve been the better option. The 105-102 loss last December was a teaching moment for Dre and hopefully the lesson was learned.

When Drummond inexplicably double teamed Griffin, the chain reaction started. Marcus Morris had to rotate and cover Jordan, leaving Jamal Crawford wide open; you’ll also notice Reggie Jackson rotating all the way over to try and help on Jordan too. Good thinking on Jackson, except that left JJ Redick open. Griffin read the play and made the right choice. Game over, drive home safely.

Body language is a funny thing. Mook’s reaction as he had to cover Jordan then find his man again is probably something we can all relate to. He knew that ball was going in before it left Jamal Crawford’s hands.

Projected Lineup

Detroit

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

Los Angeles

Chris Paul, JJ Redick, DeAndre Jordan, Luc Mbah a Moute, Blake Griffin

Prediction

Heading out out west isn’t only hard on EST office stiffs like myself but also for the guys who actually have to play the game. Playing a championship contending team doesn’t make it any easier.

The Pistons must expose Mbah a Moute as the offensive liability he is. Whoever is guarding him should two-nine the entire game and help clog the lane. Easier said than done though. Griffin is too good offensively for Morris, Harris or Johnson to handle.

As-is, the Clippers are the better team, especially at home: 107 - 94, Clippers.