Detroit Pistons (22-15) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (7-33)
Friday, Jan. 16
Oklahoma City, OK
7:00 PM CST
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
View from the other side: Piston Powered
Another chance at revenge. I'm not even going to say anything about starting a win-streak, uh, nevermind.
Everybody knows it, but I'll say it: The Pistons better come into the Ford Center ready to play. The record says 7-33, but you better treat the Thunder like a 33-7 team or you're going to walk out with your tail between your legs and your beat writers will be saying things like, "Embarrassing loss for Detroit to the worst team in the history of man," and "If there's one thing Detroit can take with them, besides a humiliating loss to a bunch of kindergartners, it's the dust and cow poop that's all over Oklahoma." But seriously, the point is there -- bring your lunch pale to Loud City or be prepared to get rolled.
You'd assume the Thunder's confidence would be off the charts and tonight they'll come in fired up and clicking. But I actually fear that the opposite may happen. I could see a flat team, feeling some sort of weird sense of entitlement coming out and playing bad ball. The thing about OKC is that while confidence is one of the best things in all of sport, second to that is playing with a chip on your shoulder. The Thunder need to realize they haven't earned anything yet and haven't won anything yet. They need to add confidence to the disrespect they've felt and play their hearts out for 48 minutes and see what happens.
But while I worry about that, I trust Scott Brooks will have them ready and will explain this to them. After all, he is an NBA coach. I'm sure he's been over that little theory before. But as for matchups, OKC matches Detroit well. As we know, the last time the two teams played it took a buzzer beater to down the Thunder in Detroit. The Thunder has been playing well, and especially well at home. Russell Westbrook, well, no need to talk about what he's doing well. He's just been awesome. He can handle anything Allen Iverson/Rodney Stuckey has and more than likely, Westbrook will be able to get to the rim and get his shot whenever he wants it.
Such a huge key is how the three Thunder stars play. Against the Jazz, Westbrook had 22, Jeff Green 23 and Kevin Durant 21. Add in Nick Collison and Nenad Krsitc's solid play and there's a formula to get a win. But against a good team loaded with good players, you can't have just a couple parts functioning. Things need to be clicking for the role players and the stars.
Depending on how you view sports trends, you can look at this game two ways:
1) The Pistons have an eight-game winning streak over the Thunder franchise.
2) The Pistons have lost three straight, with the last two being against Charlotte (six-game winning streak over the Bobcats snapped) and Indiana (eight-game winning streak snapped).
It's been four years since Detroit has lost four in a row, which leads one to believe the Pistons would play well tonight. They've lost two games against sub-par opponents and obviously don't want to continue that against the Thunder. But then again, maybe the Pistons are in a lull and this is a good time to catch them. Like the Jazz, the Pistons are mediocre on the road, winning just 10 of 19 away from Detroit. Two wins in a row (crap, I said it) would be nice, but two wins in a row against a couple of playoff teams would be really nice.
UPDATE: Just came out that Nick Collison is questionable for tonight because of a stomach virus and Rasheed Wallace missed the Pistons' shootaround today because of illness.