Game 58 Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Detroit Pistons

It's nice to be back from the All-Star Break. Celebrity all-star games are nice and all, but it will be nice to watch a game that doesn't include Justin Bieber. I did enjoy the Dunk Contest. On a side note, when did it turn into a WWE match? A car to jump over, a choir singing R Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly," and a magical score of 46 to put Blake in the second round when his dunk barely deserved a 40? I half-expected this to happen.

The Rock returns to WWE Raw - 2-14-2011 (Entrance) (via Roady1887)

Yeah, I'm a huge dork. Sue me.

So, we break from the trade talk to bring you: an actual NBA game! I know, right? Awesome.

Now, I understand that you care more about trades than the Detroit Pistons. Fair enough. This preview will probably be at the bottom of the page by gametime, so rest assured you're not alone in your thought process.

So, without further ado, here are the matchups.

Matchups:

PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Rodney Stuckey:

I really like Detroit's two-headed monster at point guard. Both guys are quick and athletic and have decent court vision. They're combining for an average 22/8/4/2. By comparison, Lowry and Brooks have been combining for a whole lot of suck recently, excluding Lowry's near-perfect game before the break.

Stuckey is a above-average sized point guard (6-5/205), so Adelman might use Lee to guard him. 

Isiah Thomas is considered one of the best point guards in NBA history, but he couldn't even beat Will Smith! Here's another video, this one from my childhood.

 

Fresh prince of belair- Will Smith vs Isiah Thomas (via ralphkevin15)

Advantage: Even

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Tracy McGrady

It seems like the last time Rip Hamilton was contributing to a championship-caliber team, Firefly hadn't been cancelled yet. Yeah, I went there. Well, ownership kept him out to trade him, then he injured his groin. Throughout the whole fiasco, Tracy McGrady has become the shooting guard for the Pistons, as well as their primary distributor.

In his last three games before the break, he averaged 15/5/3 with a couple of steals and had only one turnover during that span. It appears T-Mac has found his groove in the twilight years of his career. Plus, he just passed the 18,000 points mark for his career. If he stays uninjured, he could join the elite club of 20,000.

I asked Mike Payne from Detroit Bad Boys for his opinion of T-Mac earlier this season when the Rockets and Pistons first met.. Some of the stats may have changed, but I think most of his opinions about T-Mac still ring true. If anything doesn't make sense, it's my fault, not Mike's.

Very few Pistons fans expected to see the Tracy McGrady of old when Detroit signed him this summer.  That T-Mac is long gone, but the one that remains has been surprisingly valuable to the Pistons.  Instead of the explosiveness, the grace, the downright dominance McGrady showed earlier in his career, he's now getting by with basketball IQ, with defense, with use of his body's size, not as much as its athleticism.  Sure, there have been a few exciting plays on offense, but it's the things that don't show up in the box scores that make Tracy special this season.

Here's an interesting example.  According to the Synergy Sports play-by-play video scouting service, Tracy McGrady is a top 30 defender in the league this season-- regardless of position.  They've recorded 88 defensive plays where McGrady is the active defender, and he has held his opponent to a 31.8% scoring rate and a 12.5% turnover rate.  This is weighed primarily by his performance in spot-up defense and in isolation, where Tracy is holding his man under 30% from the field.  This is especially remarkable since Tracy hasn't ever really been known as an elite defender, but the numbers are suggestive of that so far this season.

The Pistons are getting about as much out of McGrady as I thought we would-- about 12 to 16 minutes per game of veteran leadership and decent on court production.  For me, watching Tracy McGrady has a sliver of familiarity in the way we watched Ben Wallace last year.  With much of the athleticism and youth gone, the player that remained was still doing impressive things by using a sound basketball IQ instead of out-of-the-gym hops.

K-Mart will be chased around by Tayshaun Prince, so I'll call this even because I expect K-Mart to struggle a little and T-Mac provides more than one thing to the Pistons.

Cue the hate.

Advantage: Even

SF: Shane Battier vs. Tayshaun Prince

Hopefully Shane won't be thinking too much about the fact that he's being pawned off like Ash's pokemon. Wow, I'm really on fire today guys. Watch out.

He's become more of a scorer since his days when he was only known as a wing-stopper. With Rip out, Prince is the top scorer along with Stuckey.

Advantage: Pistons

PF: Luis Scola vs. Ben Wallace:

Wallace and Villanueva split time here, and Wallace can play the center. An undersized center and power forward? I like our chances.

Wallace and Prince are the only starters left from the greatest non-Rockets intro in NBA history.

 

Detroit Pistons Intro's (via youngblood2deep)

How do you not love that?

Advantage: Rockets

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Greg Monroe:

Monroe saw sporadic playing time earlier in the year but he is seeing about 33 minutes per contests since Jan. 1 and has really picked up his production since then. He has scored in double figures in all but 10 games since then and has recorded seven double-doubles over that span. He entered the All-Star break averaging just 8.6 points with 4.8 rebounds over his last five contests, but he shot 54 percent from the field over that span.

Chuck will have his hands full.

Advantage: Even

---

Bench:

Pistons: Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye, Chris Wilcox

Rockets: Aaron Brooks, Courtney Lee, Brad Miller, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger

Advantage: Even. That's a pretty good bench over there for Detroit

Injuries:

Pistons: Richard Hamilton questionable

Rockets: Yao out

Prediction: For some reason I think T-Mac will go off and beat us.

Rockets vs Pistons coverage

Detroit Bad Boys

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