Thunder (3-1, 1-1 road) vs. Pistons (2-2, 2-1 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 99.5 (23rd), Pistons– 103.0 (13th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 98.2 (5th), Pistons – 100.5 (9th)
Pace: Thunder – 98.5 (7th), Pistons – 94.4 (19th)
Detroit coming in: Played Tuesday against the Pacers, and lost
The Thunder’s two road games this season both didn’t include Russell Westbrook, so I’m not totally sure we can draw any serious conclusions about their away form right now. The Jazz came was incredibly meh, but a win while the Wolves came was my eyes, oh my eyes. Hard to really figure if playing away from home is an issue quite yet.
The Pistons are definitely an improved team from last season and feature a mismatched roster, though a talented one. Andre Drummond is a beast, Greg Monroe is skilled, Josh Smith is Josh Smith and their guards are solid. They’re not all that consistent offensively, particularly in the halfcourt, but they possess some matchup issues.
Their schedule hasn’t revealed what they’re capable of yet, as they’ve taken care of two teams they should take care of (the Wizards and Celtics) and lost to two teams they should lose to (the Pacers and Grizzlies). Though the Memphis loss was in overtime and really, the Pistons kind of gave that one away.
So it’s a bit of an opportunity to prove a little something for the Thunder. They got right against the Mavericks, playing like the Thunder again, but was it a blip on the radar against an older team playing a fourth game in five nights, or were the Thunder finding some positive momentum. Chance to an answer to some of that tonight.
Three Big Things
1. Monroe and Drummond. I’m in love with Detroit’s frontcourt. I absolutely adore the way Greg Monroe plays with his ability to pass out of the high post, how he can shoot from midrange, and how he can finish inside. That’s a big matchup for Serge Ibaka to try and limit him. Drummond is a monster with his combination of size and athleticism, so it could be a challenge for Perk to keep up with him, particularly in transition. It was Summer League, but Steven Adams defended him extremely well in Orlando, so maybe the rookie sees big minutes tonight against him.
2. Bench play. KEEP IT UP, GUYS. Producing on the road was a bit of a problem last season with OKC’s second unit though, and it is for most benches, for whatever reason. No update on Reggie Jackson’s availability quite yet, but OKC’s second unit looks a lot more solid than originally anticipated. Let’s see how Jeremy Lamb and company perform on the road though in their first crack with Westbrook starting.
3. Matchups. Does Josh Smith defend KD? And how much does Scott Brooks go small? The Pistons have Kyle Singler, who’s developed into a decent small forward, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has a little bit of size to him, but Brooks has an opportunity to dictate matchups here. If he goes small with KD at the 4 and either Ibaka, Collison or Adams at center, it’s going to force Mo Cheeks’ hand to either remove Drummond or Monroe, or hope that one of them, or Josh Smith, can cover Thabo or Lamb. Likewise, Cheeks could throw that back on Brooks because can Lamb or Sefolosha cover Smith? It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
Tip at 6:30 CT. Go Basketball Players and Basketball Team.