Game On: Pistons @ Hornets

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Published: December 8, 2010

Matchup: Pistons(7-15) @ Hornets(13-7)

Off Efficiency: Pistons 100.8(24th), Hornets 102.5(21st)
Def Efficiency: Pistons 107.8(23rd), Hornets 99.7(6th)

As I said in the Podcast, if the Hornets were looking for a team to get back on track against, it would be the Pistons.  One of the common threads between the Hornets wins is that Emeka Okafor generally played a solid game.  Happily, he gets to go against the Piston’s frontcourt of Old Ben Wallace, Charlie Villaneuva, Greg Monroe, Austin Daye and Jason Maxiell.  Other than Wallace, none of them are particularly effective defending the paint or rebounding.

So, let’s hope the Hornets use tonights game to get back on track and settle all the jitters some of us have over this 2-6 slide.  I don’t need a blowout, I just need a game that they win by a good half dozen points and that they handle capably.

Injuries:

Pistons: McGrady is back and playing, and Villaneuva should be back after missing a game for personal reasons.
Hornets: None

Positional Analysis

PG: Chris Paul v Rodney Stuckey
Advantage: Hornets
Stuckey is having a bit of a renaissance as a scorer this year, producing more per shot than he ever has.  That is based, almost purely, on his ability to get to the free throw line.  The rest of his game, however, isn’t that wonderful, and as a shooter he leaves much to be desired.  He may get as many points tonight as Paul – but Paul will dominate this matchup.

SG: Marco Belinelli v Richard Hamilton
Advantage: Even
Hamilton’s shooting touch is failing badly as he enters the twilight of his career. No, he’s not bad, but for a guy whose entire value was based on efficient scoring, he’s quickly becoming a liability since he does nothing else.  Of the seven Pistons that get the most minutes, only Ben Wallace produces less points per shot than Hamilton.  So why is this advantage Pistons?  Lucky for Hamilton, Belinelli is in a bit of a shooting slump himself.  Though maybe he’ll be able to get it going again versus a porous Detroit Defense.

SF: Trevor Ariza v Tayshaun Prince
Advantage: Even
This is a prime example of looking at the whole package for efficiency ratings.  Prince’s shooting numbers are great-looking. 50% from the field and 47% from three.  Ariza is good for 40% and 30%.  Yet Ariza produces almost the same number of points per shot.  Why?  Because Ariza makes more threes and gets nearly twice the number of free throws.  Free throws and made threes can cover a myriad of deficiences.  Other than that, of course, these two guys are pretty similar.  Ariza’s defense is probably better at this point, but not tremendously so.

PF: David West v Jason Maxiell
Advantage: Hornets
The Pistons have been rotating players through this spot regularly.  Right now, It’s Maxiell’s turn, as the undersized energy guy gets a shot at West.  He’ll probably irritate fluffy by getting into his legs and fighting him, but West should keep this matchup well in hand.

C: Emeka Okafor v Ben Wallace
Advantage: Hornets
I still love Wallace, but I think his talents have finally decline enough that he’s not enough of a defensive force to make up for his offensive failures.  He’s barely scoring a point per shot this year, and Okafor should be able to outplay him – even if he’s bound to be blocked at least twice by Wallace.

Bench
Ben Gordon, Tracy McGrady, Chris Wilcox, Greg Monroe, Austin Daye, Charlie Villaneuva
Willie Green, Jason Smith, Jarrett Jack, Quincy Pondexter
Advantage: Pistons
There is a ton of money tied up in the Pistons bench with Gordon and Villanueva.  That may be a problem as a whole for the team, but it does make this team have a pretty potent bench.  Gordon has been finding his rhythm and stroke, and Villaneuva has been a good three-point shooter for the Pistons.  I expect this group to make the Hornets reserves struggle.  I also worry about Villaneuva on the perimeter.  Someone needs to take Jason Smith aside and tell him to stay home on Villaneuva five or six times, because otherwise, we might see Matt Bonner, Part 2.0.

Enjoy the game.  Talk it up!