Pistons Projected Starting Line-up:
PG: Tracy McGrady
SG: Ben Gordon
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Charlie Villanueva
C: Ben Wallace
Key Reserves: Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey, Greg Monroe
Injuries: Jonas Jerebko, Chris Wilcox, Terrico White
After an embarrassing loss to Memphis, the Lakers search for a home win against a sub .500 Piston team.
Frontcourt: The Pistons frontline is undersized. Starting center Wallace is the same height as the Pistons starting point guard McGrady. This has to be some sort of NBA record. Villanueva is a finesse wing player in the body of a power forward and he can knock down the trey at a respectable 37.7% rate. Rookie Monroe logs a chunk of minutes off the bench, but he is still developing and isn’t much of a threat.
Backcourt: While Stuckey is slowly recovering from a stomach flu, McGrady has filled in at the point and has played well. He was one rebound shy from a triple double in the Pistons’ loss to the Jazz. Gordon is a three point threat and a pure scorer. The Lakers guards have not defended the three ball very well lately and will need to keep a hand in Gordon’s face at all times. At the three, Prince is the Pistons most dependable and consistent player. Reserves Stuckey and Hamilton are former starters who have been relegated to the bench. Stuckey is expected back in the starting line-up soon.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
6 foot 8 inch McGrady at the point will cause match-up problems. Perhaps Kobe will guard McGrady and Fish will shadow Gordon. The Pistons are 4th in the league in three point efficiency (38.6% from beyond the arc) so the Lakers will need to close out shooters like Gordon, Villanueva and Hamilton.
The Lakers are playing their most complacent basketball of the season. At this rate, they could lose to any team on any given night. Team defense has been porous and the Lakers allow too many uncontested baskets. If the Lakers can step up the intensity on the defensive end and play hard for 40 minutes, they should win this game handily. However, that has never been the Lakers’ style. This could be an upset tonight if Kobe and co. don’t right the ship.
Lakers’ Injuries: Theo Ratliff (expected to return in a couple weeks)