Lakers vs Pistons
Pistons Projected Starting Line-up:
PG: Rodney Stuckey
SG: Richard Hamilton
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Austin Daye
C: Ben Wallace
Key Reserves: Ben Gordon (15.8 PPG), Charlie Villanueva (2.2 3PT), Tracy McGrady (nothing notable)
Injuries: Jonas Jerebko
Frontcourt: The Pistons don’t have much of a frontline. Ben Wallace is a mere shadow of his former self – he has struggled this season averaging only 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. He is undersized and doesn’t have the ups and energy that helped him overcome his physical disadvantages in the past. At power forward, sophomore Austin Daye starts but hasn’t produced – 4.1 rebounds from a starting power forward must be a league low. Super sub and one time starter, Villanueva is actually logging more minutes than Daye. Villanueva is a three point threat and a decent rebounder.
Backcourt: Stuckey, Hamilton, and Gordon split minutes at the guard spot. The only true point guard on the team, Stuckey, logs the most minutes of the three and is the main facilitator of the Pistons’ offense. Rip and Ben are dangerous spot up shooters who can both put up points in a hurry. Prince is a mainstay of the Pistons. He starts at small forward and is putting up his usual numbers – except for one category – assists are down to a career low of 1.5 per game. McGrady backs up Prince, but his impact has been minimal.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
Gasol and Odom should straight up abuse the undersized Piston frontline. Expect Gasol to get plenty of touches in the post; hopefully he can translate those into baskets. The Lakers’ offense works best when Gasol has the ball at the elbow where he can either score or deliver a pass for an easy score.
Without Stuckey, the Pistons offense flounders. Fisher and Blake will need to step it up and limit the Pistons’ point guard.
It’ll be interesting to see if Phil assigns Kobe to chase the two guards (Rip/Gordon) or if Artest will get that defensive duty. Shannon also has the athleticism necessary to chase the Pistons’ two guards around the court. Whoever defends the two will need to stick to their man and prevent the Pistons from getting production from the shooting guard position.
Expect Kobe and Pau to score at will tonight and the Lakers to cruise to victory number ten.
Laker Injuries: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff