Records: Lakers 28-15 (5 seed); Pistons 32-13 (2 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.3 (6th); Pistons 112.7 (4th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.3 (8th); Pistons 104.8 (5th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladamir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown
Pistons: Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace
Lakers Notes: On the road again, just canâ€™t wait to get on the road againâ€¦â€¦
Iâ€™m swamped at work and my DSL is out at home, so this is going to be short and sweet today. Thereâ€™s not much to say anyway, a hobbled Lakers team heads out for nine games in 14 days and starts out with a pretty tough back-to-back â€” Detroit then Toronto.
Ty over at Lakers.com does a nice M*A*SH* like rundown of the Lakers injuries. Luke Walton likely will not play tonight, look for Vladamir Radmanovic to get the start in his place.
Deeeetroit Bas-ket-ball: The Pistons come in as an elite team but are â€œjustâ€ 6-4 in their last 10 (same record as the Lakers). Theyâ€™ve been getting great play from all five starters, particlarly Billups and Hamilton. Rip gets run off a ton of screens and is one of the few NBA players who loves to shoot the midrange. Last Lakers/Pistons meeting friend of the site Nate Jones had very good seats and said this about Rip:
I can tell that it has to be very annoying to guard that guy. He runs off of a ton of picks, and pushes, grabs, and slaps his way to open positioning. Kobe pointed out what he was doing to the refs and the refs started calling Rip for offensive fouls. Rip hates getting shown up by Kobe because they were rivals in the PA area during high school.
Last time these two met: It was the first couple weeks of the season and the Lakers picked up a nice 103-91 win. But, in that game the Pistons were without two starters â€” Chauncy Billups and Antonio McDyess. This time around it is the Lakers missing key cogs due to injury. All that is to say, that game has little bearing on this game.
Keys To The Game: Other Lakers besides Kobe are going to have to do some scoring tonight â€” with the combo of Prince and Hamilton the Pistons do as good a job as anyone on slowing Kobe. Radmanovic for Walton brings some scoring into the starting lineup, they will need that tonight.
The Lakers need to be disciplined on defense. This Pistons are not a great shooting team â€” they are actually 14th in the NBA if eFG%, middle of the pack â€” but they do not turn the ball over. Detroit coughes it up on 13.3% of their possessions, the lowest level in the league (for comparison, the Lakers are 15th in the NBA at 16.2%). This is not a good night for gambles and risks, itâ€™s a night to stay on your man and in your roll.
Along those lines is this from the always great scouting report at Lakers.com:
In â€œBOX POWERâ€ Billups dribbles down the right side as McDyess sets a down screen on Prince. Prince runs a zipper cut up the middle of the floor to receive the pass at the top of the key. As this happens, Wallace is setting a weakside pin down on Hamilton. Hamilton is excellent at reading how the defense plays this screen and he will react accordingly. Prince swings the ball to Hamilton and if rip doesnâ€™t have the shot he can dump it in to Wallace in the low post or they can run a screen and roll. There are a lot of options to this sequence and we must have sound defensive concepts in order to stop them. Another option out of this box set is to let Prince isolate at the top of the key. He can then use his length to get a shot off..
If the Pistons have a weakness, you could say it is the bench (although youngsterâ€™s Stuckey, Maxiell, Amir Johnson and Afflalo have had their moments). If the Lakers are going to win tonight they will need to win the battle of the benches in a big way (the Lakers did that in the first meeting)
Where you can watch: Game time is 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) but the broadcast here in Southern California doesnâ€™t start until 5:30 on KCAL (9). If you are watching the game in real time and are commenting, make a note that you have spoilers for those of us on KCALâ€™s clock. Thanks.