Monday, February 24, 2014

Warriors @ Pistons Game Preview

Game 57; February 24, 2014; 7:30 p.m.

Golden State Warriors (34-22) vs. Detroit Pistons (23-33)
Palace of Auburn Hills; Auburn Hills, MI
TV: Fox Sports Detroit

The Essentials:

(NBA Rank) Pace Off. Eff. Def. Eff. TS% Off. Reb.% Def. Reb.%
WARRIORS 98.7 (5th) 104.1 (12th) 99.1 (3rd) 54.5 (10th) 25.7 (16th) 76.2 (3rd)
PISTONS 97.6 (10th) 102.5 (18th) 105.3 (21st) 51.6 (24th) 31.3 (1st) 73.9 (18th)

The Pistons enter Monday night's contest against the Golden State Warriors 3.5 games back of a playoff spot.  They looked much further back of the playoffs than that in Saturday night's home loss to the Dallas Mavericks.  Dallas had their way with the Pistons' defense en route to 113 points and an 11-point victory.  A new challenge awaits the Pistons at The Palace on Monday night, as a surprisingly stout Golden State Warriors team comes to town.  The fast-paced, three-launching Warriors boast the NBA's third-best defense, up from 13th in the league last season.  Certainly the addition of Andre Iguodala and a healthy Andrew Bogut have bolstered the Warrior defense.  Golden State is excellent at limiting opponents to just one shot per possession, claiming the league's third best Defensive Rebounding Rate.  

Detroit's last outing against the Warriors was an ugly affair, that was over within minutes of the tip.  Golden State cruised to a 113-95 win on November 12th, jumping out to a 35-16 lead after one quarter.  The Warriors were led by Steph Curry's 25 points (7-10fg) and received scoring from all 12 players who saw the floor.  Golden State shot 60% in the rout, including 8-16 from behind the arc.  Detroit was led by Andre Drummond's 16 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.  The matchup came after one of of many early season dust-ups between Mo Cheeks and Josh Smith, and ended with Smith only playing 19 minutes.  Going into Monday night's game, the Pistons are 4-16 against Western Conference opponents.  Two of those four wins were against teams in the Western Conference playoff picture (SA, PHX).

Hit the jump for a breakdown of the Warriors personnel...

Opposing Personnel

STARTING FIVE:
PG: Steph Curry - 24.3 PPG, 44.2 3P%, 23.8 PER, 40.8 AST%, 60.1 TS%, .446 3PAr, .260 FTr

Stephen Curry is having yet another all-around solid season for the Warriors.  Despite shooting a career low from three-point range (no, really, 44.2% is his career low), Curry is posting career highs in PER and AST%.  Curry has benefited from an increased success rate inside the arc, a higher free throw rate and better passing.  The Warriors go as Curry goes, which the Pistons learned the hard way in the first matchup.  Any chance at beating the Warriors likely lies in Curry having an off night, because we all know by now that Brandon Jennings isn't stopping him.

SG: Klay Thompson - 18.0 PPG, 40.2 3P%, 13.2 PER, .434 3PAr, 21.6 USG%, 53.9 TS%

Thompson is the other half of the Warriors's sharp-shooting, record-setting backcourt.  Thompson launches close to 7 threes per game and connects at over a 40% rate.  He isn't a well-rounded player, as his scoring is his only threat on the offensive end.  Thompson doesn't score efficiently inside the arc and needs to be run off the three-point line at all times; easier said than done.

SF: Andre Iguodala - 9.7 PPG, 36.0 3P%, 13.0 USG%, 13.9 PER, 57.4 TS%, 113 ORtg

Iguodala doesn't have the flashy numbers of Curry or Thompson, but he has been an integral part of the Warriors this season.  He's a low-usage player on the offensive end of the floor, but is a large factor in the Warriors' third-ranked defense.  Posted 11 assists against the Pistons in the first matchup.  If he's getting big numbers in any regard on offense, the Pistons are in trouble.

PF: David Lee - 19.1 PPG, 19.5 PER, 56.5 TS%, 21.8 DReb%, .324 FTr, 24.5 USG%

Lee isn't quite having the explosive season that landed him on the All-Star team last season.  His scoring per game is up from last year, but he's doing it less efficiently and not rebounding the ball as well.  He's still a threat to put up a double-double, and he certainly would've if he didn't sit the whole fourth quarter the first time out.  Lee had 17 points and 9 rebounds in the first matchup with the Pistons.  Greg Monroe needs to be the source of go-to offense; Lee has a reputation as one of the worst individual post defenders in the league, as evidenced by this opponents' shot chart:

Via Grantland








C: Andrew Bogut - 8.2 PPG, 61.9 TS%, 17.8 PER, 30.1 DReb%, 2.5 BLK/36

Bogut, along with Iguodala is to credit for the Warriors' success on the defensive end of the floor this season.  His ability to rebound the ball on the defensive end of the floor ranks 2nd in the league, and he's been a prolific shot blocker as well.  He ranks 5th in the league in Block Percentage.  He has been sidelined recently with a shoulder injury; if he can't play, slide Jermaine O'Neal into the starting lineup.  

BENCH

SF: Harrison Barnes - 10.1 PPG, 10.1 PER, 40.0 3P%, 49.8 TS%, .272 FTr

Barnes was the subject of a lot of trade rumors at the deadline, but obviously stayed put.  He's having a good season shooting the ball from deep, but struggles to convert inside the arc.  He shoots just 41.3% on two-point field goals.  Barnes needs to be run off the line.

C: Jermaine O'Neal - 6.9 PPG, 12.2 PER, 10.0 OReb%, 54.1 TS%, .492 FTr

O'Neal turned back the clock in the first matchup against Detroit, posting 17 points (7-8fg) and 6 rebounds in 23 minutes played.  Despite that, and his recent performance against Brooklyn, O'Neal has been nothing special this season.  He will start if Bogut can't go.  If that's the case, slot his bench minutes to Marreese Speights.

F: Draymond Green - 5.5 PPG, 12.0 PER, 29.0 3P%, .372 3PAr, 47.1 TS%, 97 DRtg

Green is an all-around poor offensive player, but seems to bring his value on the defensive end of the floor.  He plays 64% of his minutes at SF and 26% at PF, and even spends a little time at SG.  He's a glue guy, and can largely be ignored when the Warriors are on offense.

PG: Steve Blake - 2 GP with Warriors, previously with LA Lakers

Blake's numbers with the Lakers this season were being distorted by their crappy roster, and his role with the Warriors is so different that they won't really matter.  The one number that might come into play is his 39.9% three-point shooting.  Will likely see the majority of the backup minutes behind Curry due to Crawford's struggles.

G: Jordan Crawford (#s with GS) - 6.9 PPG, 27.0 3P%, .333 3PAr, 9.5 PER

Crawford has failed to be the splash that the Warriors were hoping to make when they dealt for him.  Crawford looked like he had found himself in Boston through the first 39 games of the season.  If he had, he's lost it with the Warriors. 

HOW TO WIN:

The key to beating Golden State is always going to lie in stopping Steph Curry.  If you can't do that, you need to minimize the amount of looks that Klay Thompson gets.  If Thompson gets his six or seven clean-ish looks this game, and Curry does his thing, the Pistons don't stand a chance.  Also, Monroe needs to exploit the advantage he has with Lee guarding him.  It would also be helpful if Bogut didn't play.

PREDICTION:

Warriors 107 Pistons 95

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