Los Angeles Clippers at Detroit Pistons
The Palace at Auburn Hills
4:30 p.m. PST
November 26, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
Video of the Day
Detroit, home of the world’s best ever in-game Dance Cam moment.
1. How has Stan Van Gundy done since taking over at coach and president of basketball operations in Detroit over the summer?
Dan Feldman, Piston Powered, (@DanFeldmanNBA): There has been a disappointing and understandable lack of urgency to do anything grand. Van Gundy has a five-year, $35 million contract, so he has time before he must shake up everything. He added a few decent free agents, didn’t trade Josh Smith and watched Greg Monroe sign the qualifying offer this summer. As coach, he’s implementing his offense slowly and giving Andre Drummond room to make mistakes. If Van Gundy is laying a foundation, it’s not resulting in much on-court success so far.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): He’s been shockingly disappointing. I wasn’t a fan of the Caron Butler, D.J. Augustin, and Jodie Meeks signings (I like Meeks, but not at that price), and was slightly concerned with the way the Greg Monroe contract situation was handled, but I at least had confidence in his ability to maximize this team’s talent. The Pistons’ bad start isn’t Van Gundy’s fault per se—you can blame injuries and an ill-fitting roster from the previous regime—but he has yet to figure out how to divide the big man minutes or what the formula for offensive success with this group is (the D has been better, though). It’s early, but there are some signs of concern.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): His on-court product doesn’t look great so far (the team has a dismal net rating and three starters shooting under 40 percent in Smith, Drummond, and Caldwell-Pope), leaving a lot to be desired. In terms of setting things up for the future, we kind of need to wait until at least next summer before we understand what SVG is doing.
2. Is there any logical way for the Pistons to fix their jumbled front court?
Feldman: Waiting—either for wing players like Jodie Meeks and Cartier Martin to get healthy or for the offseason for Greg Monroe to leave as a free agent. Van Gundy indicated he wanted to use less of the Smith-Monroe-Drummond front line, but said he’s starting the trio due to injuries elsewhere. Until the personnel changes, other tweaks would be only minor.
Buha: Disclaimer: I’m biased because Andre Drummond is on both of my fantasy teams and is underperforming. That being said, isn’t he the franchise cornerstone? It isn’t evident from his playing time (28.5 MPG). Of course, he’s dealt with foul trouble (3.9 FPG) and has struggled adapting to his new post-heavy role, but I think it’s time either Smith or Monroe is moved to the bench (Smith has been the least effective of the two, so I’d say him). That would allow the three monsters to form one of the deepest big rotations in the league, what we originally anticipated, and provide better spacing for a clogged offense.
James: This is so rough. I’ve never liked the Monroe-Smith-Drummond triumvirate, so the best I can come up with is make anyone not named Andre Drummond available and find some complimentary pieces. The problem with that is Monroe is your only productive big guy on offense, and Smith is nearly untradable (for now). I’m with Dan on this one: we have to wait and see.
3. What Clippers weakness do the Pistons have to exploit to pull off the upset?
Feldman: The Clippers are a really good team, far better than the Pistons. Maybe the Clippers know that and mail in their final game before Thanksgiving? If it sounds like I’m grasping at straws, I am.
Buha: The Pistons have a ton of size, and a potentially huge mismatch at small forward if Matt Barnes or Reggie Bullock is forced to defend Smith in the post. Monroe and Smith have given the Clips fits in the past, and it’s safe to say the only way the Pistons win this game is to muck it up, control the paint and get Griffin and/or Jordan in foul trouble. Otherwise, I think this game could get ugly.
James: If there’s one thing Drummond and Monroe can do against the Clippers, it’s kill them on the boards. I won’t waste too much more space harping on L.A.’s rebounding (for now), but Detroit could have the edge there. Detroit also plays a slower pace than L.A., and grinding things to a halt could be a sound strategy against a Clippers team that’s been on the road for a week and hasn’t looked as strong in the half-court as it did last year.