What: Detroit Pistons vs. Orlando Magic
Where: Amway Center Orlando, FL
The Detroit Pistons have won three out of their first four preseason games and they have traveled to the Magic Kingdom to take on the Orlando Magic. The Pistons have had a solid preseason so far, showing some legitimate progress under new coach Stan Van Gundy. They’ve won narrow games, they’ve blown teams out, and the jumbo frontline looked good against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. However, as usual I have three things to watch out for in tonight’s matchup in Orlando.
1.) Brandon Jennings‘ play
The one concern I have had this entire preseason is the play of Jennings. Jennings has been very erratic with awful shot selection and his defense has been spotty at best. Through four preseason games, Jennings is shooting 10/38, good for 26%. Some of those shots have been good looks that just won’t go down, but most of them have been those awful step back 19-foot jumpers that make me want to pull my hair out. If he wants to win, he has to change a lot of different things. He has been distributing the ball well, so I’ll take the distribution any day of the week.
2.) Closing out games
The Pistons have had two blowout wins, a close win over the Bulls where they blew a lead late, and a close loss where they gave up a game winning dunk. Detroit has the talent to win plenty of games, but if they aren’t going to close games out, then they won’t be successful. These guys have experience now, Jennings has been in the league for five years now, Josh Smith is going into his 10th year, and Greg Monroe is going into his 5th year. The whole “they just need experience” argument doesn’t work anymore. This team needs to start putting teams away when they take a lead in the 4th quarter.
3.) The frontline
Van Gundy has gone with a different combination through the first four games. In the first game it was Smith and Andre Drummond, then it was Smith and Monroe, then Monroe and Drummond, and on Wednesday it was all three of them in the starting lineup. Surprisingly, the lineup with all three of them worked the best. I mean it looked really good. Smith was getting shots closer to the rim, Monroe was doing his work down low, and Drummond was his normal dominating-self. I know it was only one game and it’s preseason, but if Van Gundy had legitimately found something with this giant frontline then the Pistons’ fortunes might be a little bit different this year. Let’s see what happens tonight against Orlando.