Game Preview: Hornets @ Pistons

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Published: March 16, 2008

Early game tomorrow, so I figured I'd get this up now in the hopes that a few of you may get the chance to read it.  Let's roll:

Matchup: Hornets(44-20) @ Pistons(47-18)
Off Efficiency: Pistons 108.1(9th), Hornets 108.4(7th)
Def Efficiency: Pistons 100.2(4th), Hornets 102.3(7th)
Piston Blogs: Detroit Bad Boys, Need4Sheed

Detroit and New Orleans last met way back on December 5th when the Pistons gave the Hornets one of their first drubbings of the year 91-76.  Billups harassed Paul into a poor 4-14 shooting night and West went an awful 3-15 from the field for only 9 points.  I remember the game, and  Billups was doing his best Bowen impression, poking, slapping and tugging at Paul every chance he got.  He's a savvy bastard on a team of savvy bastards.

I'll go out on a limb and say that it's unlikely those guys will combine to shoot that badly again.  Of course, with the three bad ankles they are hauling around, maybe I'm just being optimistic.  At least with our newly potent bench, we can expect more than 13 points on 4-18 shooting from our second unit – which is what we got in that December game.

Detroit wins by taking the air out of the ball and making the game deliberate and nasty.  If we hit halftime and the two teams have 42 points or lower we'll be in trouble because we've been playing their game.  If it's closer to 50, things are going well.

David West is a game time decision, and they have no idea if he can play yet or not.  Paul will be playing.  Was there ever any doubt?

Postional Analysis
PG: Chauncey Billups v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
I'll just flat out say it.  I'm not going to grant the other team the Point Guard advantage as long as CP3 is playing and has all his limbs.  He's that fantastic.  That said, I would take Billups over any other point guard in the league.  Yes – over Nash, Kidd, Davis and Deron.  He is extremely efficient, never makes mistakes, he's shooting the  best he has in years, and probably is the best defender at the point guard position in the league.  If anyone can get Paul out of his game, it's this guy and the big men who stand behind him.  I only have two problems with Billups:

  • Sometimes he's infected with Piston-itis – i.e. overweening arrogance that leads him to not play hard.
  • He's got the reputation of being clutch – and he thinks he's clutch – but he's not, shooting a poor 42% when the game is on the line.(Thanks 82games.com)

SG: Rip Hamilton v Morris Peterson
Advantage: Pistons
Rip is as pure a shooter as they come.  He's also become a better distributer over the years, probably a side effect of the amazing stability of Detroit's Roster.(Lost 1 starter in 4 years?) He'll run Mo Pete through a ton of screens, but if Peterson manages to stick close to him early in the game and limit his looks, Detroit will stop running those plays and Rip becomes a spot up shooter.  He's still good at that, but it makes him much less dangerous.  I think Pete can do it.  Peterson's shooting touch has also recovered some over the last few games.  Its nice to not have to groan every time he shoots anymore and to be able to appreciate his other talents without worrying about that offense.

SF: Tayshaun Prince v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Even
Ever since the Piston's championship run, Tayshaun Prince has been living on a reputation as a great defender.  That's a stretch.  He's a mediocre at best on-the-ball defender and a good help defender.  He's just not strong enough to contain skilled scorers one on one. Lucky for him, Peja isn't going to punish him by going at him.  That makes these two about even, because he may slow Peja's offense enough that he can keep up.

PF: Rasheed Wallace v Fluffy von No-Ankles
Advantage: Hornets
If West plays, I think we have the advantage here.  Wallace plays a little better defense, but his offense is . . . well . . . stupid.  Wallace is perfectly capable of going into the post and scoring, but instead he prefers to live on the three point line, jacking up 1/3rd of his shots from that distance for a below-league-average 34.7% 3PT.  West plays closer, shoots better and creates more pressure on the defense.  As always, Wallace's head is the problem, even if his temper has cooled some.

C: Antonio McDyess v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
McDyess is undersized for a center, and gets by on veteran savvy and a few good post scoring moves.  In a lot of ways, he's to the Pistons what PJ Brown was to the Hornets two years ago, producing 9 and 9 for the season.  Tyson will be caught by a few of his tricks, but in all should dominate the matchup.

Bench
Advantage:
Hornets
The Pistons have a great undersized energy-forward who plays with a nasty streak in Jason Maxiell, several fouls named Theo Ratliff, and two guards who can score at times in Juan Dixon and Rodney Stuckey.  Offensively, they aren't much, but defensively, they are solid.  I'd rather have the newly effective trio of Wright, Wells and Pargo – with Bowen and Ely in spot minutes.

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