Game Previews: Hornets @ Pistons and Pacers

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Published: January 15, 2010

Friday night the Hornets hit Detroit and then travel south on Saturday to take on the Pacers in their fourth and fifth games in seven nights. So that means a double preview.  Yay?  Double the fun?

Matchups: Hornets(20-17) @ Pistons(12-25) & @ Pacers(13-25)

Offensive Efficiency:

Hornets 104.1(16th), Pistons 100.0(24th), Pacers 98.8(26th)

Defensive Efficiency:

Hornets 105.6(20th), Pistons 107.4(24th), Pacers 103.9(17th)

Pistons

The Hornets played the Pistons on December 16th, fell behind by 13 at the half, and stormed back in the second half behind tightening defense and an offensive blitz from West and Paul.(32 points combined in the half)

Since that game, Rip Hamilton has returned to the lineup for the Pistons, Austin Daye has fallen out of the rotation, and the Pistons have managed one win(over the Wizards) in fourteen tries.

The Pistons had hoped that Villueneva, Tayshaun Prince, Stuckey, Hamilton and Ben Gordon would provide the scoring needed to compete this season.  While Gordon has done well, he’s battled injuries, and is injured now, leaving the others to fire away freely. Combined, they manage a pathetic 59.3 points on 56.3 shots.  It’s so bad GM Joe Dumars could hire an Imperial Stormtrooper to teach them how to shoot and expect improvement.

A lot of their problems stems from the fact they have no point guard to speak of.  Stuckey is a shooting guard.  Gordon is a shooting guard.  Hamilton is a shooting guard.  Will Bynum is a shooting guard.  Chucky Atkins is the remains of a backup point guard.  As a result they sport one of the worst assist rates in basketball, relying on individual “brilliance” for their scoring.

For a man who started off so brilliantly, Joe Dumars has really fallen from grace.  Darko. Billups for Iverson, which was brilliant until he spent all the resulting cap space on non-defending one-dimensional players like Villanueva and Gordon.  Insisting on Stuckey being a PG. Letting McDyess walk.  Giving Hamilton a ridiculous extension.  Drafting Austin Daye in one of the deepest point guard drafts in a decade – and his team in desperate need of a lead guard. You have to think Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor or Darren Collison would be able to help out that dreadful offense.

The one place the Hornets do have to watch themselves with the Pistons is that they can rebound the ball, and rarely turn it over.  If the Hornets give up on the glass, like they have so many times before this season, the Pistons will give them a good run.

Pacers

The Pacers aren’t what you’d expect.  Sporting big men like Hibbert, Murphy and Foster, none of whom could win a footrace against my 4-year old, you’d think they would be a plodding team.

They aren’t.  They are the second fastest team in the league, with 100.1 posessions per game.  Like all Jim O’Brien coached teams, they let fly often and with impunity from deep.  On average, they take five more threes than their opponents, and simply hope that they will get hot enough that they can outscore the opponent.  Sometimes, this has big results – like in their last two games when they posted 20-point comeback wins against the Raptors and Suns.

That can be dangerous for the Hornets, who have already shown a tendency to both relax when they are ahead, and to not defend the perimeter the way you’d want them to.

Happily, the Pacers have a ton of holes in their fast-paced offense.  They turn the ball over a lot, get few assists, and when they do get off a shot, post efficiency numbers in the bottom 5 of the league. 

That’s not their only weakness either.  The Pacers rebound extremely poorly.  In fact, they tie the Hornets in rebound rate, so we’ll be able to see who can run away from rebounds more effectively, Darius Songaila or Mike Dunleavy.

Oh, and Dahntay Jones plays for the Pacers now.  He’s been nailed to the bench the past few games, but I’m sure we’ll get the joy of seeing his thug tactics in action for at least some of the game.

Enjoy the games.

Oh, and for those of you worrying about Paul’s big minutes – this is where you should keep an eye on him and see if its having any impact

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