The Lakers are coming off a solid victory on the road against the hapless Nets. They’ll be playing the Pistons 12 days after they put on a 114-99 whipping on them back on November 17th. The Lakers will likely be without Nash and Kobe again, but fear not, this team is fast, team-oriented and fun to watch. The Pistons have struggled mightily in a year where many expected them to blossom into a playoff contender. They may still make the playoffs in the very bad Eastern Conference, but assuredly general manager Joe Dumars can’t be happy with their lackadaisical limp out of the gates. At least they have great alternate ‘Motor City’ uniforms. Time to cut the pleasantries and jump into the matchup analysis.
Frontcourt: Drummond and Monroe are the NBA’s youngest twin towers. Drummond has emerged as a legit starting center in the NBA with 11.9 points, 11.8 boards, 1.2 blocks and 1.8 steals per game. He gets most of his buckets near the rim so it’s no mystery why he has a stellar 64.7 field goal percentage. If Kaman is back for tonight’s game he would matchup well physically against Drummond. This year Monroe has been able to move to his more natural position of power forward. Monroe has more finesse than his counterpart and is good from 15 feet out from the hoop. Gasol will have his hands full guarding the skilled big man.
Josh Smith was a big acquisition for the Pistons this off season, but unfortunately he is struggling this year. While Smith is known for his defensive prowess, his offensive inefficiencies are a huge negative for the team. Smith is hoisting up 4.9 three pointers per game, but only make 27.4% of them. Overall Smith is only converting 40.9% of his field goal attempts per game. The Lakers should let Smith shoot early and often.
Backcourt: At point guard Brandon Jennings has been the key facilitator for the Pistons offense. He’s pitched in a career high 8.1 helpers per game. While Jennings is a gifted passer, he is actually a scoring minded point guard which is detrimental to his team since he shoots often and poorly. Jennings is a career 39.3% shooter and has subverted his career average this year shooting a dismal 37.2% and attempting a team high 15.1 field goals per game.
Rodney Stuckey has revitalized his career and is the lone bright spot in the Pistons backcourt. He’s the team’s leading scorer with 16.6 points at an efficient 49.7% clip off the bench. For some reason they start rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (hereafter known as KCP) at shooting guard even though he’s unpolished and terrible at shooting. If there’s one guy the Lakers defense need to focus on in the Pistons backcourt it’s Rodney Stuckey.
Key to Lakers’ Victory:
Run and Gun: The Lakers should continue doing what has made them so successful this year against one of the League’s worst defensive teams. The Pistons give up 104.4 points per 100 possessions and the Lakers managed to drop 114 on them nearly two weeks ago. Meeks, Blake, Young and Farmar have been on fire from distance lately. If the Lakers continue to share the ball and get good looks they should be able to score at least 105 on the Pistons tonight.
Make the Pistons Shoot: Above I have documented the Pistons shooting woes and no doubt the Lakers coaching staff is aware of this fact. With that in mind the Lakers need to force the Pistons to shoot jump shots instead of penetrating in the lane. With the exception of Stuckey, the Lakers should allow players like Jennings and Smith to shoot with reckless abandon. At the same time they need to prevent feeds to Drummond in the painted area since he alone skews the Pistons overall shooting percentage.
Los Angeles Lakers (8-8) at Detroit Pistons (6-9)
4:30 PM PST, November 29, 2013
Palace Of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Pistons Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Josh Smith
PF: Greg Monroe
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: G: Rodney Stuckey, GF: Kyle Singler, G: Will Bynum