Scouting Report: Detroit Pistons
The Hawks limp into Detroit on the heels of seven straight losses, and things don’t get any easier as they’ll be matched up against one of the biggest teams in the NBA without the services of three of their centers.
Al Horford, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon all remain out. Horford is obviously done for the season, and General Manager Danny Ferry hinted that Antic and Ayon may miss a few more games each. Antic is still working his way back from a stress fracture in his ankle, and Ayon injured his right shoulder in Indiana on Tuesday.
The only healthy body taller than 6’8″ is 6’9″ Elton Brand, who will likely start his second straight game. Brand played well against Washington on Wednesday, scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, but tonight is a whole different challenge against arguably the most dominant true center in the East. Andre Drummond is averaging an East-best 13 rebounds to go with his 13 points. The key is to make him catch as far away from the basket as possible because he doesn’t have range, but he also gets a lot of points by crashing the offensive glass, so boxing out will be key as well.
A similar scouting report can be made for Greg Monroe, who also struggles in the mid-range game but crashes the glass hard. He doesn’t average as many boards as Drummond, but he’ll still have a big size advantage on Paul Millsap.
If DeMarre Carroll isn’t able to go, I suspect Kyle Korver will shift to starting small forward and be tasked with guarding Josh Smith. As Hawks fans know from his time in Atlanta, Smith is a versatile player who fills up the stat sheet. He’s shooting just 22 percent from three, so Korver will try to keep him on the perimeter, as he’s much more dangerous when attacking the basket.
Pistons leading scorer Brandon Jennings has been steadily improving throughout the season. He’s up to nearly 18 points and eight assists per game, and he’s improved his three-point shooting now to the point where you can no longer play him as just a slasher.
As a team, Detroit is first in the NBA in offensive rebounding and second in the East in total boards. The undersized Hawks will have their hands full but must make boxing out a priority if they expect to snap the losing streak.
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