Clippers Vs. Pistons - Game Preview - Let's Go Streaking

2011/2012 NBA Regular Season

March 18th, 2012, 12:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul
PG Rodney Stuckey
Randy Foye SG Brandon Knight
Caron Butler
SF Tayshaun Prince
Blake Griffin
PF Jason Maxiell
DeAndre Jordan
C Greg Monroe

The Back Story:

First and only meeting of the season. The teams split two games last season, with the road team winning both times.

The Big Picture:

The Clippers have not won consecutive games for over a month now. At home against a team with a 4-17 record would seem like a near lock for a win, which would give them two in a row -- but then again, at home against a Suns team that was resting Steve Nash and Grant Hill seemed like a lock as well. As did at home against a Warriors team essentially without Steph Curry. Let's face it; there are no gimmes for the Clippers right now. Yesterday's matinee was a case in point -- Houston was playing without three starters, and with only seven players not counting a couple of D-League call-ups. Yet the Rockets led almost the entire game, and it took some fourth quarter heroics by Chris Paul to pull out the win in the end. But at least it was a win: the fourth quarter has mostly been where the Clippers have been losing games lately. Hopefully Nick Young will be in uniform today -- the team could certainly use a jolt of some sort, and maybe Young can provide it.

The Antagonist:

The Pistons have won 12 of their last twenty after beginning the season 4-20. But their road record remains a dismal 4-17, and many of their recent wins have come against teams even worst off than they. Still, the Clippers can't afford to take any team lightly at this point -- the Lakers took the Pistons lightly recently and paid for it. Detroit is led in scoring by second year center Greg Monroe and by point guard Rodney Stuckey, both in the 16-17 range. Monroe is turning into a very nice player -- but the rest of the Pistons roster is kind of a mess. Stuckey is a nice enough player, but the team seems a little lukewarm on him -- he was a free agent this summer, and they eventually gave him a three year deal at $8.5MM per, but the final year of that is unguaranteed. I'm not really sure who else on the roster the Pistons might consider to be keepers, with the possible exception of rookie Brandon Knight from Kentucky.

The Subplots

  • Today's Special Guest Recapper. Yours truly.
  • The Questionable Blogger. Be sure to check out the Q&A with Detroit Bad Boys blogger Mike Payne. Also, head over there to see my answers to Mike's questions as well.
  • Key Pistons Metrics:
    Pace: 88.9 (29th of 30 NBA teams)
    Off Rtg: 101.3 (25th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 107.6 (25th of 30)
    A slow pace and as bad on defense as they are on offense. Oh goody.
  • Key Clippers Metrics:
    89.4 (27th of 30)
    Off Rtg: 108.1 (5th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 105.9 (21st of 30)
  • Last meeting. These two teams haven't played each other in 15 months -- they did not play each other the entire calendar year of 2011. But the last meeting has some significance for last season's Clippers team, as it marked a turning point in that season. It was the first road win of the season, but more importantly, a team that had been 5-21 heading into the game went on to post a 27-29 record the rest of the season. The 10-11 Clippers turned their season around in Detroit. Maybe a win over the Pistons can get this team back on the right track.
  • Home stand. It wasn't supposed to be this way. The Clippers six game home stand featured games against three teams with overall losing records, and five teams with losing road records. They beat the Hawks, the only team that was .500 on the road, but have lost to multiple teams they should have beaten. They stand at 2-3 entering the sixth and final game of the home stand -- a win lets them come away with a 3-3 split -- not good, but better than the alternative. They start a road back-to-back-to-back on Tuesday, so they could certainly use a win now before that nightmare.
  • How will Detroit defend Blake? Jason Maxiell is strong but undersized. Monroe is much longer -- but not as bulky. I suspect the Pistons will put Monroe on Blake, since he has some trouble with length.
  • Paul. Chris Paul scored 23 in yesterday's win over Houston -- but he only had 2 in the first half. The Clippers are simply a better team when Paul is being aggressive on offense and looking to score. Let's hope he realizes that and gets it going a little sooner today.
  • Bledsoe. Eric Bledsoe played only 2 minutes against Houston. The problem is that Houston's guards are big, and Vinny Del Negro can't afford to devote too many minutes to undersized guards in those situations. With Chris Paul and Mo Williams required for their scoring, Bledsoe is the odd man out. Stucky is 6'5" and Brandon Knight is 6'3", so there could be a similar problem against Detroit.
  • Nick Young. There's no indication that Young will be make his Clippers debut today. As he was part of a five player, three team deal, he has to wait until all of those players have taken their physicals with their new teams -- they have until Monday to do so. So although Ramon Sessions debuted for the Lakers Friday, a day after the trade deadline, and Stephen Jackson has seen action in San Antonio, Young may have to wait until Tuesday in Indiana to play for his new team.
  • The 2007 Draft. The Young acquisition has me thinking about the 2007 draft. The Clippers took Al Thornton with the 14th pick, Stuckey went to Detroit at 15, and Young went to Washington at 16. The Clippers had worked out Young and considered drafting him at the time. That's the same draft that saw Greg Oden go fist overall to Portland -- the Blazers finally cut their losses on that pick on Thursday when they waived Oden. Oden, Thornton, Acie Law and Julian Wright are 2007 lottery picks who are now out of the league, and there are many more first rounders that are no longer NBA players as well.
  • Joe Dumars - Hero to Zero. When the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 2004 and advanced at least as far as the Eastern Conference playoffs many more years in succession, Joe Dumars was hailed as a front office genius. He had signed Chauncey Billups, and traded for Ben Wallace, drafted Tayshaun Prince and acquired Rasheed Wallace for the playoff push. He could do no wrong. (Though of course he could, as he'd already drafted Darko Milicic ahead of Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at that point.) Seven years later, the Pistons are a mess, and Dumars is largely to blame. His trade of Billups for Allen Iverson was a disaster from a basketball standpoint, though it did have the advantage of saving money. He then took that money and signed Gordon and Villanueva on the first day of free agency in 2009, to contracts that were absurd from the moment they were conceived. Of course Dumars was never the genius that everyone said back in 2004, nor the idiot they say he is now - just relatively lucky or unlucky.
  • From the Urban Dictionary:

    piston head

    n. One who is very interested in the mechanics of vehicles, particularly luxury or sports cars. Similar to a gear head.

    The only thing more boring than a piston head is a gear head

  • Get the Pistons perspective Detroit Bad Boys.
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