Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.
1. Well, we won’t be seeing any of J.R. Smith’s little brother Chris against the Pistons, but we will see Brandon Jennings and Smith. Is it fair to expect any fireworks?
Brady Fredericksen, PistonPowered: Not between Smith and Jennings. The NBA is full of faux tough guys. Neither Jennings nor Smith are even anywhere close to the phony Kevin Garnetts or Matt Barnes of the league, but this was all talk — it always is. What I do think will happen — and it’s going to be the worst thing in the world to watch — is a “I’M GONNA SHOW YOU!” mentality from both guys. Jennings and Smith already take a million shots anyway, so why not shoot even more when you’re trying to “get in them pockets” as Smith poetically coined during this week’s beef.
Tim Thielke, PistonPowered: Expect fireworks? No. But don’t be too shocked if they happen. Smith is one of the most unpredictable people in the NBA.
David Vertsberger, KnickerBlogger: I would expect some trash-talking, but nothing more. I just don’t think it’s that serious and both of these players have a lot to lose in really creating a stir. But if anyone does start something bigger, it’ll be Smith considering he was the “victim” of this whole silly situation and he’s had a reputation of being… well, dumb.
2. The Knicks have been just as dysfunctional as the Pistons early on. What’s more likely — a Pistons’ defensive revival or a coming-out party for the Knicks’ stagnant offense?
Brady Fredericksen: The Knicks are back, baby. I think the Pistons are going to have a field day in the paint against the Knicks intimidating front court of Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin, but similar to Sunday’s game against the Lakers, you have to defend well — IE: not allow teams to rain down 3-pointers — to make those easy scoring opportunities matter. I do find the likely small-ball matchup of Josh Smith versus Carmelo Anthony interesting. That’s a situation where, if the Pistons do win this game, they’ll have to win that matchup.
Tim Thielke: Offense drives narratives, so I’ll have to say the latter. For a low-scoring game to be chalked up to great defense rather than lousy offense, the great defense has to be expected going into the game. That won’t be the case for this tilt.
David Vertsberger: It’s a tough question when you consider that both of these teams’ problems on those ends weren’t expected and seem easy enough to solve. I’d go with Detroit’s defensive revival because of how new a good part of their lineups are and how blind Mike Woodson has looked early on. The Knicks were terrific year-round last year on offense, but a lot of that happened while it being stagnant.
3. One of these teams has to win this game, so who walks away victorious and why?
Brady Fredericksen: I don’t want to sound grim (but self-deprecating? of course), however, the Knicks are going literally shoot the Pistons out of this game faster than an angry saloon owner in an old-timey country western movie. That’s how awful the Pistons’ defense has been, not to mention how poorly they played against the Knicks last year — losing by an average of 15 points while allowing the Knicks to shoot (roughly) 110 percent from the field.
Tim Thielke: This could largely come down to Smith’s defense of Anthony. That should be a matchup his strengths are well suited to, but he hasn’t done well defending out of the paint so far this season. On the other hand, let’s see the Knicks pack the paint with ferocious interior defenders like Anthony and Bargnani. I’ll pick the Pistons because their scoring differential has been two points better so far.
David Vertsberger: It’s got to be the Knicks to me because of their super-spacing starting five they’ve played with Tyson Chandler out with injury. The Pistons’ bigs are not going to have a fun time guarding the perimeter for 48 minutes. One thing that worries me is Detroit’s transition game however, as the Knicks have been porous defending the fast break. Should be either a fun or brutal game, nonetheless.