Thunder at the Detroit Pistons
What the pros are saying:
What I’m saying:
- The Thunder have an opportunity to pad their wins a bit early on before facing tough consecutive games against Portland and Boston.
- Injuries to big men are never a good thing, because they often rely specifically on their lower body strength, and Nick Collison’s knee bruise will likely keep him out for a while. However, early on in the season it can provide opportunity for younger players to earn minutes that can pay big dividends down the stretch.
- Ever since the Pistons parted ways with Chauncey Billups, they seem to have been a team without a specific identity. They feel more like a mish-mash of ill-suited parts than anything else right now.
- Ben Wallace?
What to expect:
The Pistons dropped their first game of the season to the New Jersey Nets, a team that won a grand total of 12 games last season (starting it out at an incredible 0-18). The Pistons faded late in the game, losing a 7 point lead in the 4th quarter. Their roster is populated by a bunch of guys who consistently get you about 15 points. With the exception of Rip Hamilton and his fabulous Amish beard, there isn’t anyone on the team that can consistently score 20 in an efficient manner. They will struggle to keep up offensively with the Thunder.
For OKC, they will likely individually and collectively be coming off the high of starting off the season right, especially after such lofty expectations for the young team. This feels like a game where, if they can get out early and run, there will be opportunity to put the Pistons back on their heels.
Looking at match-ups, while Durant always poses a challenge for defenders, in this game there is really nobody at all that is going to provide much resistance to his offensive game. Villanueva and perhaps McGrady offer a little bit of athleticism to slow his efforts, but his complete game should prove too much. The key for Durant will be to be patient with his shot selection, which he did not do well in game 1. The only way that the Pistons will be able to keep up with the Thunder offensively is if the Thunder waste possessions on quick shots. Durant will get another 30 if he wants to, but the efficiency of how he does it will dictate the pace.
Pistons PG Rodney Stuckey provides a different challenge to Westbrook than what Rose offered him. Stuckey possesses defensive acumen and tenacity, but has nowhere near the same offensive repertoire. Westbrook showed a superior effort in game one largely in part because he did not force his shot selection, and scored his 28 off of only 15 attempts. It is critical for PG’s to not take away shots from the rest of the team, and if he can do this again he should once more come out ahead in the personal matchup.
If the Thunder are to struggle anywhere, it could be in the rebounding game. This is once again where Jeff Green will play a role. His 21 points and a key 3 pointer were a valuable contribution in game 1, but having only tallied 4 rebounds, he needs to be more aware of his power forward responsibilities. The easiest way for big men to get easy transition baskets is by first rebounding. He must be able to keep the Pistons off of the offensive glass if the Thunder are to make quick work of this Pistons team.
In closing, if the Thunder can rebound well and utilize their superior transition game, which also heightens offensive skill positions, they should be able to make short work of the Pistons. Detroit’s best chance is to slow the game down, commit to offensive rebounds, and hope that the Thunder get impatient with the pacing.
Thunder by 15