Pregame Open Thread: New Jersey Nets vs. Detroit Pistons

So much for trade partners, huh? Many columnists and sources swore up and down that the Nets would be hitting the floor with (and against) a completely new team today. Now that the dust has settled and Mikhail “Mickey P” Prokhorov has thrown the Russian gauntlet, we can say for sure that there is only one guy joining the Nets lineup tonight: shooting guard Anthony Morrow.

The Pistons come into this game 15-27, but are a meager 4-18 on the road. They’ll be playing without Jonas Jerebko (right achilles), Terrico White (right foot) and Richard Hamilton (awkward benching). Ben Wallace is questionable. Like the Nets, the Pistons play a snail’s pace (89.1 possessions per game) and are 19th/25th in offensive and defensive efficiency, respectively.

Here are a few things to look out for in tonight’s game.

Keep The Intensity Up. Wednesday night’s game, from an effort standpoint, was fantastic – Devin Harris leapt into the stands, Derrick Favors chased down loose balls, Sasha Vujacic had some key defensive plays, and Brook was attacking the rim. It was a refreshing sight to see, because this team has enough weapons to play like that every single night and they’d been sleepwalking through the previous dozen games. Now that the initial “okay, ‘Melo’s not coming here” excitement has worn off, the Nets have to maintain that energy level continuously. If they can beat a top-5 team in the West, they can beat the Pistons.

Do Anything On Offense. Just Don’t Call Iso’s. Don’t be tempted by isolation against this Pistons team – they’re excellent at defending in isolation sets, allowing a mere 0.77 points per possession (PPP). Detroit’s length & skilled man defenders force opponents to only shoot 35% in isolation, and 19% from beyond the arc. That ranks them 2nd in the NBA.

However, Detroit has been porous on defense everywhere else – they’re 26th in the NBA at defending in the post, 26th in transition, 27th at defending the dribbler on the pick & roll, and 25th at defending the roll man. This is perfect for the Nets to exploit – the Nets are most dangerous off the pick & roll, running out in transition, and running the offense through Brook Lopez in the post.

Basically what I’m saying is: keep the ball out of Travis Outlaw’s hands for extended periods of time.

Look Inside! As I tweeted earlier today, the Nets have seen 635 possessions used by the ballhandler in the pick & roll, and only 310 by the roll man. I’ve been moaning all season about this, but when you’ve got three skilled finishers & Johan Petro rolling to the basket, they should be getting the ball in a position to score at least 75% of the time.


Also, as a personal aside: Tonight is my last night in New Jersey before I shuffle myself back up to Massachusetts, and to celebrate that (and his birthday!) I’m treating poppa Kharpertian to the game tonight. If you see two guys who look exactly alike, except the younger one is three inches taller wearing a maroon BC cap and the older one is 40 years older with a gray goatee, that’s us.

For more info on the Detroit Pistons, check out TrueHoop affiliate PistonPowered.