Game Tips at 7:30pm EST
If any game illustrates the enormous competitive gap between the Western and Eastern Conferences, this one's it. At twenty-five and twenty, the Dallas Mavericks currently sit in eight place in the West, with two .500 or better teams biting at their heels at ninth and tenth (Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets). With just seventeen wins to twenty-six losses, the Pistons are just outside the Playoffs looking in after having lost ten of their last thirteen games. In the terrible East, only five teams actually have winning records, and in spite of how poorly the Pistons are playing, the Playoffs are well within reach.
Quite the contrast, no?
The Mavs will be back in action at home after dropping two of three on a recent road trip and pose a variety of matchup problems for the Pistons.
Most notably is Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk is a tough cover for anyone, and Greg Monroe will have his hands full, at least as long as he's on the floor. Moose is in the doghouse of late; Cheeks has only played him about twenty-eight minutes per game over the last fifteen. I'm expecting heavy doses of Josh Smith at power forward, paired with Moose or Andre Drummond at center.
Jose "we-hardly-knew-you-but-miss-you-terribly" Calderon and Monta Ellis are good enough off the bounce to have me more worried than normal about the Pistons' porous perimeter defense.
And on the season, the Mavs are shooting thirty-eight percent from deep.
The Pistons' D has a lot of work to do.
Keys to the Game
Stop something: Obviously, that's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but in seriousness, the Mavs are a tough matchup, and the Pistons won't be able to take everything away from them. It behooves the Pistons to focus on one of Dallas' strengths and try to stop that. Maybe they will choose to focus on dribble penetration from the Dallas wing players. Maybe they will focus on defending the three. Or maybe they'll focus on Dirk and hope the supporting cast can beat them.
Shot selection: This is basically a copy/paste from here on out. The Pistons give the majority of their shots to their worst shooters. I'm hoping against hope here, but I'm still hoping.
Change something: Obviously, that's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but in seriousness, what the Pistons are doing isn't working. Maybe today is a good day to focus on changing up pick-and-roll coverage. Maybe it's time to rethink the aforementioned shot selection. Maybe it's time to think about shot selection. Maybe it's time to relentlessly defend the three-point line. Doing all of these things (and more) the same way for the rest of the season isn't going to work. It's time to change something. Anything. Please.
Question(s) of the Game
The Mavs are averaging just shy of one hundred and four points per game. How many will the Pistons give up? Ad who will be the random player the Pistons make an All Star out of?