The Pistons are looking to regroup following their heartbreaking double-overtime loss to the New Jersey Nets on Friday. But they didn't have much time to lick their wounds as they had to travel from Brooklyn back to the Palace of Auburn Hills to play the Pacers the very next night. The Pacers might be a disappointment this year but they still own the league's No. 1 defense. So we have a Pistons team playing the second night of a back-to-back after having traveled overnight and following a double-overtime game and a team that struggles on offense when any one of their main cogs is having an off night. Things could get ugly tonight at the Palace.
It's not a guaranteed loss, however, because the Pacers have problems of their own. Even though they have the league's best defense they also own one of the league's worst offenses. Not surprising when the team has been without Danny Granger all year and the newly extended Roy Hibbert can't hit anything inside or outside of the paint.
The team shoots just under 42 percent on the season and doesn't do a lot of damage in the paint. They rely on limiting mistakes, hitting jump shots and leaning on their suffocating defense. And that defense is pretty scary. Hibbert commands the middle, blocking 2.91 shots per game (third in the NBA). And the supporting cast, including Paul George use their athleticism and long arms to play off of you and still have time to bother your shot.
Keys to the Game
Own the paint: The Pacers block shots, rebound the ball and don't give up points in the paint. If the Pistons are going to have a chance that means something is going to have to give. It'd be an awful convenient night for Greg Monroe to have a statement game.
Keep the lineup fresh: Lawrence Frank has used a 9-man rotation for a while now but he might need to expand that tonight. Brandon Knight played 47 minutes, Tayshaun Prince played 44 minutes and Greg Monroe played 42 minutes. If Frank leans on them too heavily they are going to have dead legs and be ineffective. Even worse, when Pistons players get tired they seem to get really sloppy with the ball and they can't afford to give away the ball and give away points to a bad offensive team like the Pacers.
An obvious answer would be more Andre Drummond but Frank should also think about dusting Jonas Jerebko off or even Austin Daye. And he shouldn't be shy about looking for creative ways to get his main guys any extra minutes of rest that he can.
Stop Paul George: George has essentially been the Pacers only consistent source of offense and if the Pistons can stop George they'll have a chance to come away with a much-needed victory. In his last 10 games George is hitting 46.1 percent from the field and a nearly identical 46.7 percent from 3.
Question of the game
How many minutes does Andre Drummond play tonight?