Game 41: Detroit Pistons (15-26, 3-15 on the road) @ Utah Jazz (19-21, 14-6 at home)
The Utah Jazz, fresh off a 2-3 road trip, are back at home. Home is where the heart is, and I presume looking at our splits this season, where the wins are as well. The Pistons are far and away from the team that went (at least) to the Eastern Conference Finals six years in a row (2002-03 to 2007-08). We're no where close to even being the team we were either. Both teams have reloaded with a mix of limited vets with established ceilings, some over paid contracts, and a bunch of younger players. For the Jazz we already know all about Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, and Enes Kanter. For the Pistons they have Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye, and Brandon Knight. Two of those guys (Monroe and Knight) are people we Jazz fans should know about, because they were targets on draft night last year and the year before. Unfortunately, the Pistons took Monroe before he was available; and last draft the Jazz passed on Knight in favor of Kanter.
This is an opportunity to see Monroe (The Moose), and Knight up close. By the way, Monroe is playing 32.5 mpg, Knight 32.0 mpg, Jerebko 23.9 mpg, and Daye 14.3 mpg. And Rodney Stuckey (not young but not old, as he is still only 25) is playing 31.1 mpg. As a point of comparison the Jazz are playing Hayward (27.5 mpg), Favors (19.5 mpg), Kanter (13.9 mpg), and Burks (12.8 mpg). Sap, only 26, is playing 31.1 mpg. The Pistons ARE playing their younger guys more. And they are fast-tracking their development into solid rotation guys. They are getting a better return on their investment I think; especially since these younger guys will be with the team for a while. And the Pistons are not playing mercenaries who'll be gone in a season or two ahead of them. Both teams aren't winning a lot of game this season -- but it looks like the Pistons will make the playoffs sooner. But hey, I'm not an NBA Head coach or Radio Station's favorite tweeter, so what could I possibly know? Shut up. Just Shut up, Amar.
What's going on with the Pistons?
The Pistons are a mini-wrecking ball right now. Or at least that's how they look on paper after sending the Toronto Raptors into further extinction, grounding the Atlanta Hawks, beating the LA Lakers in overtime, and skinning the Charlotte Bobcats. (Their only loss in the last few games was on the road at the Memphis Grizzlies) Detroit is bring in a three game sin streak onto this five game Western Conference Road trip they're starting tonight (@ Utah @ Sacramento @ Phoenix @ Clippers @ Nuggets ). This is a good measuring stick game for both teams. They are not overlooking the Jazz, they will be solidly looking at us.
Their main weapons this season are: Monroe, Stuckey, and Knight. Moose Monroe (16.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, 50.7 fg%, 4.3 FTA/game) is a double double machine and throwback post scorer. Rodney Stuckey (15.5 ppg, 4.0 apg, 6.3 FTA/game) is a combo guard who is killing it by getting to the line a lot and making his shots from there (83.6 ft%). He's kinda where I think we could hope Alec Burks to become in two seasons. Stuckey is also making half a three a game and shooting at 33.9 3pt%. Last is Brandon Knight. We passed on him in the draft when we weren't secure on PG play. He has a big chip on his shoulder this year for dropping down in the lottery, and may trey to prove a point tonight. He may take a lot of shots, but he's not really an efficient scorer at this level as a rookie (which we all predicted). He's still giving other teams 12.6 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.4 rpg, and making 1.5 threes a game at a 36.5 3pt% clip. It's important to note that he's not a big time distributor, but he does have NBA range and confidence.
The Pistons want to play a very slow game (29th in PACE), and they don't score a lot. It's going to be a grind it out game if they get their way -- which maximizes what they can get out of their Greg Monroe pound it in the paint offense.
After the Jump -- What's going on with the Jazz
What's going on with the Jazz:
Raja Bell is causing problems. Al Jefferson may not play tonight. C.J. Miles can't make a shot. Everyone is going to be traded. Tyrone Corbin is a bad coach. And we're fighting each other on twitter. Hyperbole aside, I think everyone needs to chill out. This is still positivity week, and I will not let this blow up on me two weeks in a row. It's very rarely that the Jazz lose to a bad defensive club, and these Pistons aren't a good defensive club. Their defensive rating is 24th in the league, and they hide a lot of flaws by playing slowly. They also have inefficient scorers outside of Monroe. If we quicken the pace we could put some distance between the two teams.
Utah is a good home team, and we're playing at home. And the Pistons are a bad road team. And they are playing on the road. The Jazz should move beyond all the crazy talk and come together to win some games this week. Starting tonight against the Pistons. The Jazz are still having trouble spreading the floor, but against this Detroit team (28th in defensive rebounds, #30 in blocking shots) we should attack the inside relentlessly. Their front line is Jason Maxiell, and absolutely ancient Ben Wallace, Monroe (who they have to keep on the floor for offense, so he doesn't foul a lot, or challenge a lot), and Tayshaun Prince. We should pound it inside, and we'll be fine.
Shut up. Everyone.