|2012-2013 NBA Season|
|November 12th, 2012|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|6:30 PM CST|
|Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Fox Sports Net Detroit, WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1)|
|Enemy Blogs: Detroit Bad Boys, Need4Sheed, Piston Powered|
|Previous Meetings: Nov. 12th (Thunder Lead Series 1-0)|
|Russell Westbrook||PG||Brandon Knight|
|Thabo Sefolosha||SG||Rodney Stuckey|
|Kevin Durant||SF||Tayshaun Prince|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Jason Maxiell|
|Kendrick Perkins||C||Greg Monroe|
We're only eight games in, and already we're seeing a team for the final time. That's right, tonight will be your last chance to see the winless Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder until the 2013-2014 season....unless they meet in the NBA Finals, that is. Also, this game is unique in that the Thunder will only see the Pistons play in their home whites. This is because the Thunder were wearing their dark blue alternates at home on Friday, and if the Pistons wore their away blue duds, nobody would have been able to tell them apart.
This game shouldn't be seen as a guaranteed win, though. The Pistons played the Thunder deep into the fourth quarter at home on Friday, and can take advantage of some of the Thunder's weaknesses. Most notably, they're more than decent at forcing turnovers and their athleticism gives them some advantage on the offensive boards. Some might despise the Pistons ability to stay with the Thunder, but I'm just glad to be watching competitive basketball on a Monday night.
Our last matchup saw the pairing of two of Detroit's most promising young players in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Unfortunately, Lawrence Frank appears not to want to play them together. He hardly played them opposite each other in Saturday's game against the Rockets, giving them only token minutes side-by-side in the second quarter. During that time, Detroit pretty much treaded water.
Really, not much has changed with the Pistons. Rodney Stuckey is still trying to shoot himself into oblivion. They don't have the size to grab defensive rebounds. They're not great from three, and they live at the free throw line.
I do feel that the Pistons have the potential to be good defensively. They don't perform well as a unit, and their bench, sans Drummond, is really weak in this department. However, individually, their starters are somewhat talented. Prince has always been long and decent, Monroe is a good shotblocker and rebounder, Knight can keep up with his man, and Stuckey will get a steal or two. But they don't help each other in the paint that well, and they're not effective at trapping. On top of that, some of their bench players are really weak in specific defensive areas, and the shots they chuck up on offense aren't really helping them either.
What I'd really like to see from the Thunder tonight is some decent minutes given to Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones, and/or Jeremy Lamb. The Thunder will be exhausted from their fourth game in 5 days, along with having to fly to Detroit overnight while simultaneously losing an hour by going into the Eastern time zone. It wouldn't hurt to throw out a second quarter lineup of something like Collison/Jones/Lamb/Jackson/Maynor. Just to see how things pan out. I mean, with PJIII's awesome pre-season stats, everybody's chomping at the bit, waiting to see him get real minutes. Throw us a bone, Scotty!
All in all, the Thunder just have to focus on not losing tonight. Don't make too many mistakes, don't let a Piston player catch on fire, control the paint, and let your stars do what they do. But remember, this is the NBA. Anything can happen. So tune in tonight, or you'll be sorry!
And for the love of of a good game, let Drummond and Monroe play together, Lawrence Frank! We want to see some real ball tonight!
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 101, Detroit Pistons 89.