|2014-15 NBA Season Game 9|
|November 14th, 2014|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK|
|7:00 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Detroit Plus|
|Injury Report: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Perry Jones III, Mitch McGary, Andre Roberson, Grant Jerrett (Out), Jodie Meeks, Luigi Datome, Cartier Martin (Out)|
|Previous Matchups: Nov 8 (W 119-110), April 16 (W 112-111)|
|Brandon Jennings||PG||Reggie Jackson|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope||SG||Jeremy Lamb|
|Josh Smith||SF||Lance Thomas|
|Greg Monroe||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Andre Drummond||C||Steven Adams|
For years, the Oklahoma City Thunder have suffered without a true shooter on their roster. For fans of the team, it's either been dealing with the frustration of watching big men trudge out to the perimeter or gnashing your teeth as ball-dominant guards chuck up off-target shots. Luckily, a solution has finally presented itself. Last night, Thunder fans were witness to the power of Anthony Morrow, and a truly reliable floor-spacing shooter.
To be sure, there were other factors in Wednesday's win against the Celtics. Over at CelticsBlog, they've got a rather detailed expose regarding how Boston dealt with the Thunder's zone. The article also mentions poor shooting on the Celtics part, as well as a general lack of experience. Tonight against the Pistons, the Thunder shouldn't get to many easy breaks. Brandon Jennings is the perfect type of all-purpose scoring guard to break down the Thunder's zone, and the Pistons haven't had any overt problems shooting the ball.
Still, the Pistons have had problems. Most of them stem around the stunted development of their third year center, Andre Drummond. Detroit Bad Boys has a pretty detailed expose, and it's interesting to hear about how Stan Van Gundy is struggling to play two post-oriented players at once. The result is a Detroit team that has had to ride the offensively positive play of their guards. Meanwhile, the Pistons are having trouble guarding the perimeter defensively.
The Thunder can definitely take advantage of this, as long as they give significant minutes to Anthony Morrow. He's the rock upon which this team's three point shooting can build. The more the opposing team respects his shot, the more likely the Thunder are to get open shots for weaker shooters like Jackson, Ibaka, and Collison. Once those shots start falling, the Thunder are a somewhat offensively solvent team.
Reggie Jackson shouldn't have too many problems getting his game going, though. Brandon Jennings has never been a strong defensive point guard, as Jackson should be able to fly by him into the paint. The Pistons have one of the best defensive paint combos in the league, but Jackson has proven himself capable of drawing fouls and hitting difficult floaters.
Ibaka should have absolutely no problem getting away from Andre Drummond, but he hasn't exactly destroyed the Pistons in the past. Last year, it was Steven Adams who was the hero for the Thunder in their only significant game against Detroit. The Pistons didn't have nearly the same caliber of big men on the bench that year, so Adams and Collison were able to carry some positive momentum into crunch time. This year, Detroit's bench isn't much more promising, so perhaps Perk and Collison could get some offensive sets in.
Really, I'm expecting this one to be fairly competitive, but for Detroit to pull away in the end. The Pistons are a flawed team with a wonky roster, but they have that talent to beat inferior teams on certain nights. I feel like Detroit holds the talent advantage here, along with a decent stable of shooters. Until the Thunder can get some more scorer back from injurt, I feel like that's all it takes to beat OKC on most nights. Fact is, we're still relying on one scoring PG, a couple of shooters, and a roster full of defense-first players. Winning on that is tough.
Prediction: Detroit Pistons 103, Oklahoma City Thunder 91.
What do you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!