It’s been quite a while since both these teams have been good at the same time, but the arrival of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith to the Detroit Pistons has turned them into a playoff caliber team, while the Indiana Pacers were expected to be this good after last year’s success.
The Pacers are the only remaining undefeated team in the NBA at 3-0, featuring the best defense in the league. They’re keeping teams at 85.1 points per 100 possessions and forcing them to shoot only 40.1% from the field. It’s been nine years since the last time they began a season 4-0, but the injury to starting point guard George Hill might be getting in the way of that.
While the strong start from Paul George (25.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists) was to be expected, Lance Stephenson is still a surprise. He was supposed to be a sixth man as Danny Granger makes his second comeback, but so far an injury is holding it back. Stephenson doesn’t mind filling in the need for a shooting guard or even a point guard, doing everything on the court with 19 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4 assists per game.
It’s going to be quite the battle in the paint, with Roy Hibbert and David West facing off against Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith. When Smith guarded Paul George last year in the playoffs, he gave the small forward a very hard time, which might be the plan the Pistons will go with, at least early in the game.
The Pistons are pleased with the start they’ve made, hoping Brandon Jennings picks up his game quickly after making his debut against the Celtics, scoring 14 points. Greg Monroe and Josh Smith have been the more active players offensively so far, combining to average 36 points per game.
A big key might be the bench, which the Pistons have the advantage in, unless Luis Scola starts playing like they expect him to, giving them finally a trustworthy scoring option coming off the pinewood.
Prediction – The Pistons are going to take some time before their new frontcourt and point guard mesh together, which is going to be very difficult to do against the best defense in the NBA.