New Pistons open season against Pacers

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons at Indiana Pacers
  • Date: Dec. 26,  2011
  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit Plus, NBA League Pass

Records

  • Pistons: 0-0
  • Pacers: 0-0

Probable starters

Pistons:

Pacers:

  • Darren Collison
  • Paul George
  • Danny Granger
  • David West
  • Roy Hibbert

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons +8

Over/under: 194

Score: Pacers win, 101-93

Three things to watch

1. New era

The Pistons have a new owner and a new coach, and in time, both should improve the franchise. How much they can do this season remains to be seen, especially because the roster is mostly the same as last year.

But winning their season opener could go a long way after an 0-5 start sunk the Pistons last year.

2. New defense

The Pistons’ defensive rating has steadily dropped the last few years – 4th to 16th to 26th to 28th in the NBA – but Lawrence Frank has emphasized defense and has the tactical skills to actually improve that end.

That starts at power forward, where the Pacers have David West (who has averaged 27 points on 57 percent shooting and nine rebounds per game against Detroit the last three years) and Tyler Hansbrough (whom Tim Donahue of 8 Points, 9 Seconds called Pacers’ best player right now).

Last year, the best power forwards, by PER, were:

1. Kevin Love (24.4)

2. Dirk Nowitzki (23.5)

3. Pau Gasol (23.3)

4. Zach Randolph (22.7)

5. Tim Duncan (21.9)

6. Blake Griffin (21.9)

7. LaMarcus Aldridge (21.6)

8. Whoever is playing the Pistons (21.0)

9. Kevin Garnett (20.7)

10. David West (20.5)

Considering the Pistons’ opponents include backups, that’s embarrassing. A strong showing tonight against West and Hansbrough would go a long way in showing the Pistons’ defensive woes are behind htem.

3. New point guard

Rodney Stuckey will start, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, but all eyes will be on Brandon Knight. Stuckey missed part of camp, and at his size, Will Bynum isn’t suited to start.

Knight has incredible upside, and the sooner he cracks the starting lineup, the better – especially because Stuckey can shift to shooting guard.

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Tags: Brandon Knight Lawrence Frank Rodney Stuckey Will Bynum

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