Detroit Pistons game previews between December 5 and December 11, including games against: Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Detroit Pistons capped off a successful last week in going 3-1 and reaching .500 status, even knocking off playoff-caliber teams like the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets in the process, but the best news of the week came in the form of the return of Reggie Jackson. The starting point guard made his season debut Sunday against the Orlando Magic, putting up 18 points in a loss. On the whole, this return means the most for the Pistons offense, which ranks 23rd in points per game than their defense, which ranks 2nd by the same metric. Jackson is a true threat to create on his own or in the pick and roll with Andre Drummond, which is something the Pistons offense has been lacking with Ish Smith.
This week, Detroit faces yet another four-game slate, which includes yet another back to back. The matchups do look less formidable than in previous weeks, so if the Pistons continue an encouraging trend of play, another winning week could be on the horizon.
Tuesday, 6 December 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Home
For a team that has such defined issues (lack of spacing, overload of on-ball playmakers), the Chicago Bulls season has been a surprising success so far. They currently sit at 11-8, good for fourth in the East even without Michael Carter-Williams or Doug McDermott, both of whom are out with injury. Jimmy Butler has been leading the way at 25.6 points per game, and Dwyane Wade is close behind at 19.1. What has been more surprising has been the pair’s outside shooting, which currently sits at 36 and 37 percent respectively.
One would suspect that this trend will eventually settle down to the mean, as neither player’s career average from behind the arc exceeds 33 percent, but for now, the Pistons must treat the Bulls’ 10th ranked offense with respect. Chicago is fairly strong defensively between Butler, Rajon Rondo, and Robin Lopez, so exploiting bench players like Nikola Mirotic, Isaiah Canaan, or Bobby Portis will be key to a victory. As the Bulls and Pistons share a division, there will be plenty of matchups between the two teams to come, perhaps with playoff implications.
Wednesday, 7 December 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
This will be the first real test for Jackson in his return, as Hornets point guard Kemba Walker averages upwards of 23 points per game. In the Pistons’ last clash in Charlotte, Detroit left town with a surprising 23 point victory behind 24 points from Tobias Harris and 18 each from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris. Given that this game will be at home, it may be tempting to think that this will again be an easy victory for the Pistons, but fans and the team alike should not look past this game. For one, it takes place as the second game of a back to back, where players will be tired after playing the night before in Chicago. For another, we don’t yet know whether Jackson will be playing in limited minutes or at all given that team personnel will not want to rush him back too soon.
Andre Drummond had a curiously absent game, scoring just three points and allowing ten rebounds to Hornets counterpart Cody Zeller. A boost at the point guard position and a revitalized Drummond should be enough to carry Detroit to victory, but fans should not expect a blowout as in the game before.
Friday, 9 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of those few teams the Pistons have yet to play, but what we’ve seen from them so far should be enough to predict a Piston victory, even on the road. Individual performances have been the story so far with the Wolves, which should not be surprising given their wealth of young talent. The last two Rookies of the Year in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns lead the team in scoring at 22.8 and 22.6 points per game, with fellow youngster Zach LaVine close behind at 19.1. After that, we see a steep drop off; no other Timberwolf averages over 10 points per contest and the team as a whole ranks 13th in points per game. What’s been more curious has been their defensive struggles, as on wouldn’t expect a Tom Thibodeau-coached team to rank 24th in defensive rating.
Unlike most big men his size, Towns has the ability to stretch the floor and put the ball on the floor, so Andre Drummond’s defensive potential will be stretched to the max here. Luckily, he can expect help from his counterpart at the four, as Timberwolves power forward Gorgui Dieng is not much of a threat at all offensively. Minnesota will be a scary matchup in the years to come, but as it stands now, this is a Pistons’ win.
Sunday, 11 December 2016 at 06:00 PM ET Home
Even though they are just 4-14, the 76ers have garnered an outsized amount of attention this season almost entirely because of star center Joel Embiid. The 2014 third overall draft pick had missed the last two years due to injury, but has exploded into the league in a big way, averaging 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.3 three-pointers made per game, numbers that become all the more impressive when you consider he’s played in only 22.8 minutes per game so far. After Embiid, things get much dicier for Philadelphia; Ersan Ilyasova sits second at 13 points per game, and no other player has the capacity to inspire defensive focus or demand attention.
Obviously Andre Drummond’s athleticism and defensive abilities will be called into service to stop Embiid and/or Jahlil Okafor, and should he do even an adequate job, the Pistons should come away with the win. The Sixers are no longer the worst team in the league, but a regular threat to victory they are not.