The gist: The Pistons have lost seven of their last eight, the latest one coming in a 99-91 loss at the hands of the Warriors. Led by Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, the Rockets have won their last three games to climb to a decent 6-7 record.
Key matchup: Kyle Lowry vs Brandon Knight
Heaps and dollops of raves have been directed towards Lowry’s way, and deservingly so. He continues to burn unsuspecting defenses with plays that demand a high basketball IQ. Knight will have his hands full, but one thing he has going for him is a wide 6-6 wingspan that could frustrate Lowry. However, Knight also has a knack for turning the ball over (3.1 TO/game).
X-factor: Luis Scola
Pitted against the Swedish swingman Jonas Jerebko, it will be a classic case of offense against defense. Scola will have a harder time than usual getting his points as Jerebko is expected to use his athleticism and 6’10” frame. On the flipside, Scola and his marshmallow-soft defense has to recognize that Jerebko has a mediocre outside shot and should bang bodies once Jerebko takes it to the low post area.
Code Red: Greg Monroe has been the lone bright spot for the Pistons and the team’s only true threat on a nightly basis. Guys like Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey have seen significant dropoffs in terms of scoring and Ben Wallace has been reduced to a screen-setter, nowhere near the defensive stalwart he once was.
A reader, Sir Thursday, has conducted an analysis of sorts of the Rockets’ schedule:
I’m going to split the other teams into the league into 5 categories depending on how likely we are to beat them:
Easy wins (we should win 100% of these):
Sacramento x3 (1-0)
Charlotte x2 (1-0)
New Jersey x1
Expected score: 11-0
Current score: 2-0
Favoured (I’d like to win 75% of these):
Golden State x3
New Orleans x3
Expected score: 12-4
Current Score: 0-0
Memphis x4 (0-1)
Expected score: 6-5
Current score: 1-1
San Antonio x4 (1-1)
Portland x3 (1-0)
Expected score: 3-9
Current score: 2-1
Games we’d be lucky to get anything out of:
OKC x4 (0-2)
LA Lakers x3 (0-1)
LA Clippers x3 (0-1)
Expected score: 0-16
Current score: 0-5
Projected record: 32-34
Current record: 4-7
If previous years are anything to go by, we’ll need around 35 wins to make the 8th seed. That means we’ll need to pick up an extra three games from somewhere. Any ideas where those might come from? We’re already doing reasonably well in the ‘underdogs’ section…
I’ll try to keep this updated as the season goes on so we can keep track of how we’re doing against expectations. Hopefully that will start with a win today!
Follow the breakdown.
The number of the week is 13. That was how many minutes Chase Budinger saw in the overtime loss to the Spurs. He was invisible, going scoreless and only grabbing four rebounds.
The Rockets continue to stay reliable at the line, going 61/75 (81.3%) in the past four games. Highlighted by Kevin Martin’s 12/13 display against Portland, the Rockets will always be a threat for as long as they do not settle for contested jumpers.
For one week, at least, the Rockets could exhale and breathe a sigh of relief. Their last four opponents failed to capitalize on open three point looks, going for a combined 19/75 (25.3%).
Stat of the week: Kyle Lowry – 33 points, 8 rebounds (2 on the offensive end), 9 assists