Game tips at 7:00pm EST
The Pistons have lost six games in a row and eight of their last nine, and surprising as it sounds, this stretch has been even worse than their record. Durong those nine games - which includes a four point win over Brooklyn - they have been outscored by nine points per game.
Over the course of an eighty-two game season, a team with a point differential of negative nine would be expected to win about nineteen games (using Pythagorean wins).
That is some downright terrible basketball. Remember the Charlotte Bobcats from last season? That's comparable basketball to what the Pistons have played over their last nine games.
Fortunately, the Pistons play the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night, and the 76ers are also terrible at basketball. They have managed to get to twelve wins on the season, but their Pythagorean win total is actually only nine wins. In fact, their efficiency differential on the season is just about a negative nine.
As horrible as it sounds, these teams are essentially mirror images of each other at the moment... well, except that Philly has won four of its last six.
Fortunately for the Pistons, however, the 76ers defense is absolutely terrible (111 points allowed per game). If there ever was a night to end a losing streak, it's Friday in Philly.
Keys to the Game
Play unselfishly: Ironically, Josh Smith's comments on Pistons.com perfectly capture how the Pistons should attack the 76ers' porous defense. "My main focus and the thing I've been trying to preach the most is sacrificing for each other, being able to play unselfishly, hit the open man when he's open." I'm not sure Josh and I share the same definition of "unselfish," and I don't think he's practiced what he's preaching, but he's still absolutely correct about this. The Pistons play competent-to-good offense when the ball is moving and shots are spread around to open, skilled shooters. The 76ers' D underscores the necessity to make this happen.
Feed the Moose: Remember when Greg Monroe was a rookie, and DBB was collectively begging that the offense use him as a focal point? We are in that same situation this season. Moose isn't a perfect offensive player, but he's far and away the best the Pistons have. Forget the first play of the game goes to Josh Smith in the post routine (although I get what Cheeks is trying to do here). Set the tone by feeding the Moose early, and keep doing it often. (I'm trying to get the #FeedTheMoose going again on Twitter. Join me if you like.)
Play for 48 like you do for 24: The Pistons are a good first half team, and they are an atrocious second half team. Somehow, some way, Maurice Cheeks and has staff have to figure out how to motivate this group of players to do the same thing in quarters three and four as they do in quarters one and two.
Question(s) of the Game:
How much are you enjoying the way this team has played this season? Is it playing out like you thought it would?