The Detroit Pistons are 1-0 after a 113-102 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Tonight they're in Memphis to take on the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum. Last season, the Pistons went 0-15 on the road against the western conference opponents.
The last Pistons win over Memphis came on opening night for the 2009-10 season. Richard "Rip" Hamilton led the Pistons in scoring that night with 25 and Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva made their Pistons debuts. Since, Hamilton is a free agent after an unsuccessful stint with the Chicago Bulls, Gordon is now with the Charlotte Bobcats, and Villanueva isn't in the rotation.
Keys to the game:
1.) The inside game. Both Memphis and Detroit rely on their big man. Memphis' combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will do battle with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. The Pistons controlled the paint against Washington by scoring 56 points in the paint and winning the rebounding battle by six. I doubt the Pistons will be able to control the paint against the Grizz like they did against the Wizards, but if they can hold their own they might be able to take advantage of their other options.
2.) Josh Smith's matchup with Tayshaun Prince. Prince isn't exactly the defender he used to be. Smith can take him off the dribble and out work him in the post. Prince will not be a factor offensively so that will allow Smith to roam on defense and be able to help on Randolph and Gasol.
3.) Guard play. Rodney Stuckey may return tonight for the Pistons, so he will help with attacking the paint. Stuckey's strength is attacking the paint, drawing fouls, and setting up the big men with dump off passes. As long as he doesn't take too many 3-pointers or force shots, he will be a welcomed addition. Chauncey Billups will have to run the offense efficiently as well. If Stuckey is ready to go, he will most likely start with Will Bynum coming off the bench.
Pistons are due for a road win against the western conference. I liked the way the team looked on Wednesday and I think the addition of Stuckey will help. I think it will be a close game down the stretch and if the ball is in the hands of Billups, then he's going to come through and lead the way. If Detroit can control the battle in the paint, take advantage of Smith vs. Prince, and the guard play is good then Detroit will pull out a win tonight. Tip off is at 8:00 on FSD.