Lakers vs. Pistons Game Preview: Business trip? More like a vacation

Back when I was a kid, my dad used to travel for work from time to time.  Every now and then, his destination of requirement did double duty as a destination of choice as well, and on those rare occasions, he would sometimes pull the old business to pleasure transfer of staying out the weekend and bringing me along.  This was how I got my first taste of our nation's capitol.

What does this have to do with basketball?  Well, despite the fact that Detriot and Minnesota, the Lakers remaining opponents on this 3 game roadie, are about as undesirable as destinations can get (come to think of it Milwaukee is pretty high on the undesirable list too.  Is this the worst combination of travel destinations in NBA history?  Couldn't they have thrown in a trip to New York, or Chicago?), despite all that, one can't help but get the feeling that the business end of the trip is over.  Considering how unpleasant Detriot and Minneapolis are as destinations at this time of year, I suppose the analogy doesn't hold, but at the very least, the Lakers are at a week-long conference in which they presented on the first day.  You can pretty much bank on them sleepwalking through the rest of the week, and for that reason, and that reason alone, it's possible the Lakers might lose one of the next two games.

In other words, tonight's opponent is not very good.

 Ah, the Detroit Pistons.  Once the paragon of the team concept (Detroit's 2004 team, which is all too familiar to us, is the only champion of the past 20-30 years without a clear cut superstar), the Pistons have become a sad mess of old and new parts, none of which are performing as intended.  The holdovers from the glory days of 5 years ago are all significantly worse than their prior selves, and aside from Ben Wallace, they all seem pretty bitter about the fact that anybody expects them to play well anymore.  And the new signings, the guys brought in to change fortunes after Detroit created themselves a fair bit of room under the cap, well, those signings are both in the top 10 of "Reasons the players have a hard time believing the owners are losing a bunch of money". 

After all, if the league as a whole is losing a bunch of money, how can a small market team like Detroit afford to give Ben Gordan 55 million over 5 years, and Charlie Villanueva 35 million over 5 years?  Forget for a second that neither one of those guys is worth that kind of money.  Don't the Pistons already have a shooting guard of note on the roster?  Don't they already have a long small forward?  That is the Pistons in a nutshell.  The four highest paid players play two positions on the court.  It's a poorly constructed team, and the coach doesn't see eye to eye with the star players and ... and they are a game out of the early season playoff picture.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Eastern Conference!!

Seriously, it's not often you can say the words "Don't let their record fool you" about a 4-7 team ... and mean that the record represents them as better than they are.  But take a look at the numbers.  The Pistons don't do much of anything very well.  They at or below the league average in all but three of the metrics we look at before each game.  The only compliments you can pay them are that they don't turn the ball over much, and they both shoot and defend the three point line very well.  They can't even seem to take advantage of the one thing they do well on offense, managing to combine the 3rd best 3pt % in the league with the 25th highest ratio of 3 pt attempts to FG attempts.  C'mon Detroit, at the very least, figure out where your bread is buttered and go there.

If anything about the NBA made sense, the Lakers would win tonight's game easily.  They are better than the Pistons in just about every imaginable way.  For this team, that means the most likely scneario involves the Lakers letting the Pistons hang around until the 4th quarter before pulling away for a comfortable single digits win.  Then again, the Lakers just annihilated the best defense in the league, and were lit up by (one of) the worst offense in the league in the same night, so what exactly about this NBA season is making any sense.

Enjoy the early tip, game is on KCAL at 4:30.

And check out the SB Nation's Pistons blog, Detroit Bad Boys.

Lakers

Pistons

RECORD

9-2 (3)

4-7 (21)

PT. DIFFERENTIAL

9.1 (1)

-4.4 (25)

PACE

96.1 (7)

90.6 (27)

OFFENSIVE RATING

117.6 (1)

104.4 (22)

Turnover Rate (Off.)

12.3 (1)

13.2 (9)

FTA/FGA (Off.)

0.220 (25)

0.225 (18)

Free-Throw %

80.3 (4)

69.7 (29)

3PT FGA/FGA (Off.)

0.247 (6)

0.191 (25)

3PT% (Off.)

41.4 (2)

41.1 (3)

Effective FG% (Off.)

52.7 (5)

48.5 (22)

True Shooting% (Off.)

56.1 (8)

52.3 (25)

Off Rebounding Rate

32.9 (1)

25.5 (21)

DEFENSIVE RATING

108.1 (23)

109.2 (24)

Turnover Rate (Def.)

13.4 (18)

13.8 (17)

FTA/FGA (Def.)

0.195 (3)

0.247 (18)

3PT FGA/FGA (Def.)

0.247 (24)

0.221 (15)

3PT% (Def.)

38.1 (24)

29.2 (1)

Effective FG% (Def.)

49.1 (14)

50.0 (19)

True Shooting% (Def.)

52.9 (9)

54.8 (22)

Def Rebounding Rate

68.8 (28)

69.8 (26)

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