Utah Jazz: 23-11 (12-6 Home)
Detroit Pistons: 11-22 (3-14 Road)
Deron Williams is undefeated against the Detroit Pistons, a streak of ten games that includes some spectacular comebacks and overtime heartbreaks. During that streak, Mehmet Okur has been huge, averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds per game.
Fortunately, Okur has been out with back troubles, and looks like a good bet to miss tonight's game. Even if he can go, he'll be awfully limited.
On the other hand, the Jazz have played just fine without him this season. Deron Williams is proving to be one of the most consistent players at his level. Paul Millsap has emerged to fill the gap left by Carlos Boozer, and Al Jefferson has worked to overfill it.
The Jazz have slipped a bit on the defensive end, though you wouldn't know it given their propensity to foul and foul hard. Other than that, things keep running smoothly for coach Jerry Sloan, whose teams have been a model of consistency for more than two decades.
Keys to the Game:
Preserve the lead: I'm seldom a proponent of the idea that emotions dictate outcomes, but the Pistons seem to be collapsing far too frequently after playing long stretches of great basketball. Add to the mix a foe with a ten game winning streak, and a 15 point lead (should Detroit accrue one) will be a nail-biter.
Get it down low on offense: Millsap and Jefferson are a formidable tandem in the front court on offense, but can be taken out of the game on the defensive end. Match those two bucket for bucket (could Austin Daye be of assistance?) and the Pistons have neutralized a major advantage.
Disrupt Williams:That would be the other major advantage. The Pistons can't be content to let Deron Williams beat them, because he will. That's why they call him D-Will. Actually, that's not true. They call him that because it's short for Deron Williams. I'm just bein' a silly goose.
Question of the game: