Detroit Pistons (11-14, 3-10 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (12-12, 6-7 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 104.6 (23rd), Pistons – 105.9 (19th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.5 (7th), Pistons – 107.7 (19th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.2 (18th), Pistons – 88.0 (29th)
View from the enemy: Piston Powered
The swing game. I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but alas, it has. Oklahoma City needs a win over a solid Pistons team to stay above even. But here’s the scary thing: The Thunder have already beaten the Pistons. Why does that matter? Because so far, OKC is 0-3 in rematches after winning the first game. In fact, the Thunder are 0-5 in rematches period. That’s nearing trend territory.
In the first meeting, Kevin Durant was fantastic with 25 and 12 and Russell Westbrook added 10 points and 10 assists. Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey had 25 and 21 for the Pistons, but Detroit got no support from Charlie Villanueva who had just eight on 3-12 shooting. Part of that was good defense by Jeff Green, part of it was because Villanueva settled for bad shots. But hey, both those things are certainly in play again tonight.
The Pistons have been playing much better after getting off to a 5-11 start, but have won five of their last seven. However, of the Pistons 11 wins, eight have come against sub-.500 clubs.
Richard Hamilton is questionable tonight for Detroit with a hamstring strain. Ben Gordon sat with an ankle injury and is a toss-up tonight as well. Without him, Detroit started old friend Chucky Atkins at shooting guard last game. If there is no Hamilton and Gordon, OKC has a decided matchup advantage. Rookie Jonas Jerekbo will attempt to guard KD who might coming out with smoke billowing from his nostrils after his 4-18 showing against Dallas.
Villanueva came of the bench as Jason Maxiell started most recently for Detroit and honestly, I like Jeff Green much more against Villanueva. I prefer Green going against more finesse players rather than bruisers like Maxiell. Russell Westbrook on Stuckey is speed versus speed, however while Westbrook has been slumping, Stuckey has been fantastic. With Gordon and Hamilton out, he’s become the featured scorer for the Pistons and is doing a nice job of it. I’d imagine Thabo and Russ split time covering him.
I like the overall matchup for the Thunder because obviously Detroit is banged up. But even still, I think OKC matches strength with strength. A lot of this comes down to who plays and who doesn’t for the Pistons. Regardless, the Thunder needs this game before going out on the road with three tough ones. OKC does not want to dip its toe back on the bad side of .500, especially with the games that are coming. Plus a loss tonight means OKC has lost four straight, which would be a season high. This group needs to nip that right now. Because if not, once again, it could become a long losing streak.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go No More Losing Streak.