Drexler’s Pistons in the house!!!!
Joking aside, Portland starts what (on paper) looks to be a favorable end to the month of November. After a (no matter how bitter of a taste the ATL game left) successful road trip, Portland will have 5 of their next 7 games in the Rose Garden and only one of the next 7 games against a team above .500. Although, one of them is at Utah and we all know about how well Portland plays in Salt Lake City. Gulp.
Tonight however brings the Detroit Pistons. This isn’t like any Piston team that Portland fans have seen. That core group that we’ve associated with the Pistons for years? None will play tonight. No Chauncey, no Rip, no Tayshaun, no Sheed. Oh wait, I forgot about Ben Wallace. Big Ben Wallace is back so that’ll be a familiar sight. Other than that this is the new school Pistons. A weird, mismash of a team that I’ve tended to try and avoid on League Pass. The one thing I do know about this Detroit teams is they are back to being a scrappy team who is guaranteed to give you a battle every night. And they have to because they’re definitely not as talented. Offensively, they’re led by Ben Gordon whose averaging 22 points a game on 203012 shots a game. At least that’s always how it feels. Rodney Stuckey (16.7 PPG) and Charlie Villanueva (15.4 PPG) are currently second and third bananas for the team from the Motor City. Stuckey is averaging a career high in field goal attempts a game (15.8 a game) but it is only translating into about 3 more points per game for him. Will Bynum comes off the bench and attempts to give them a major offensive spark. I love that Bynum is finally getting a chance, but no offense if Will Bynum is shooting 10 shots a game your team might be in trouble. Ben Wallace has had a resurgent year, proving that HE NEVER SHOULD HAVE LEFT DETROIT IN THE FIRST PLACE. *ahem*. It’s kind of sad when the basketball world is semi-excited that Ben Wallace is averaging 9 rebounds a game and 1.6 blocks when about 7 years ago he was putting up those numbers in the first half. There’s a whole generation who doesn’t know how beasty Ben Wallace used to be. I mean..we’re talking video game covers:
Anyways, back to the Pistons, they are going to scrap, and claw and try and make this game gross. Because that’s how they need the game to be to win: gross. They’re 5-6 so they’ve had some sort of success behind it. They snuck up Orlando and played a physical game and beat them. Almost took out Dallas even though Ben Gordon made only 1 more field goal in that game than I did from my couch. Portland cannot be surprised by Detroit’s style of play, nor can they be bogged down into it. Even with Travis Outlaw, our depth is way better than their depth. Jason Maxiell has completely been neutered, I haven’t heard a sniff about him. Remember all those years when everyone was like ‘Man get rid of Sheed so Maxiell can hoop!’ and how he’s averaging 16 minutes a game.
For Portland, they’ve got to just keep getting better. The loss in Atlanta was bad for a couple reasons. I mean blowing a double digit lead in the fourth quarter is always going to raise some eyebrows. On the flip side, they were up double digits against a really good Atlanta team on the road in the last of a long road trip. So the talent is there. Tonight they have to execute offensively. Detroit wants to hang their hat on their defense. Portland can’t settle for jumpers. Also, it’s a chance to regain some swagger at the Rose Garden. 3-2 at home is not what we expected at this point. That’s the same home record as the Bobcats and we all know they couldn’t give away seats even if Michael Jordan cared. I mean Sacramento is 4-2 at home right now and sometimes I think Arco Arena was more full for a couple Monarchs game this summer than it has been this year. The road record is fantastic so far, but the next couple weeks is a chance for the home record to catch up.
Keys to the game
- Don’t foul. Detroit’s 6th in the league as far as getting to the free throw line (27.5 FT attempts a game). Gordon, Stuckey and Bynum all have the ability to drive and get to the line. Against a somewhat offensively challenged team, you cannot let them get freebies from the line. Make them earn it in the half court.
- Finish. The. Stop. This is coming from Monday, Really good defensive possessions by Portland were turning into nothing because we couldn’t get the rebound. No reason to give Detroit second shots. They will thrive on it and if you told me right now that Portland was going to lose tonight and then asked me why I’d probably say because we didn’t get enough defensive rebounds.
- On the flip side, crash the boards. Detroit gives up 12 offensive rebounds a game. You do the math.
- Contain Ben Gordon. Ben Gordon is Detroit’s best offensive player. Ben Gordon is going to shoot the ball… a lot. Make him earn everything, I mean contested jumpers all over the place. Do not over help and let him hit a couple open ones because we all know what happens when he gets hot. If Ben Gordon can’t score the Pistons should have a ton of trouble. Although, Charlie Villanueva likes to heat up in the Rose Garden so we’ll see.
- Keep it up Rudy. Coup might have been a little harsh on you, but I was very encouraged. Now you’ve got to keep it up. You’ve shown that you can do it once, lets see how you play against a more physical Detroit team.