Since the 1989-90 season, when the Pistons nabbed their second straight championship, Detroit has only won twice in Salt Lake City. Ironically, that same year was the beginning of Jerry Sloan's tenure as head coach for the Jazz. Now that Sloan has departed, maybe the mystical energy preventing Pistons wins has left with him? That'd be pretty sweet, especially since a win tonight would finally give the Pistons a better record than they had last season. As of now, the 2011-12 Pistons are matched up with Kuester's final year with a .366 win percentage.
Game Tips at 9:00p.m. EST
Detroit Pistons: 15 - 26 (3 - 15 road)
Utah Jazz: 19 - 21 (14 - 6 home)
There's quite a substantial playoff bubble in the Western Conference. The Rockets are currently holding the 8th seed, but there are five teams within 3 games of Houston's lead. Utah is right in the middle, sitting 2 games back while entering a week of four very winnable games. It's safe to assume that the Jazz will be bringing their A-game tonight.
It's funny how well these two teams match up. Al Jefferson and Greg Monroe are almost statistically identical, Paul Millsap and Jason Maxiell are cut from the same stone, although Millsap is what we'd always hoped Maxiell would become. On the perimeter, Utah plays a boring vet at SF who doesn't shoot well and contributes little else (sound familiar?). Where Detroit clearly has an advantage is in the backcourt, where a stomping Rodney Stuckey could have his way with Gordon Hayward and Devin Harris tonight.
Harris and Hayward are serviceable for now, in Utah, but both are below-average talent for their respective positions. These two and Josh Howard account for only 28 points per game, while Detroit averages 41 points from their perimeter starters per contest. Utah scores points and wins games with their frontcourt, which could spell trouble for a Pistons team with only one frontcourt scorer.
Keys to the Game:
Feed the Guards: Oh! Changed it up on you! You didn't even see that coming!! Detroit's guard play is an advantage over Utah, and if the hands are hot, let them run the show. The stats help make this case-- Utah has the 27th ranked isolation defense in the league. I'd point and laugh, but Detroit is number 30...
Free... man I can't believe I'm saying this... Free Charlie: If Detroit wants to get some scoring out of its frontcourt, it might be worth seeing what Charlie has in the tank. He's apparently healthy, he's in uniform, and his defense might be improved under Larry Frank. As much as the guy has been an absolute disappointment in Detroit, he can be unstoppable with the ball in his hands in the post. What's the worst that can happen? We get more lottery balls?
Pick and Rolls -- Do 'em, Defend 'em: Utah has really poor pick-and-roll defense, so this is an area to exploit. Let's run some. They're really effective plays. Might be something to work on between Knight and Monroe, yeah? On the other end, Utah is very poor at running pick and roll plays of their own. Keep the pressure there tonight, as it is a common play for Utah despite their troubles with it.
Question of the Game:
So Detroit is currently matched with its win percentage from 2010-11. Will Detroit end up with a higher win percentage this season? Statheads, will the win percentage of 2011-12 be inflated by the larger proportion of eastern conference matchups? MORE OF YOUR THOUGHTS NOW.