Things are not looking good for the Detroit Pistons. The team essentially had their season on the line in a back-to-back two-game series against the Charlotte Bobcats and it dropped both games in humiliating fashion. Not only did the Pistons lose but the games were hardly competitive. Now, with the trade deadline gone we know who will be on the team and it is incumbent on the players and the coaches to make it work.
And while things have been bad for Detroit, they might be even worse for the poor Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta made a lot of smart moves in the offseason and the team looked poised to once again be in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack looking like a second-round playoff team. And once you're in the second round all you need is a little luck. But injuries have decimated their lineup, especially their big man rotation. It's gotten to the point where Elton Brand is their only healthy big man and they had to lean on the veteran for 35 minutes against the Wizards on Wednesday. Considering the injuries perhaps it's no surprise that the team has lost seven in a row, have been outscored by 10 points per game in that span, and have slid to No. 7 in the East and are just a game up on the surging Bobcats. But the Hawks haven't exactly played any cream puffs in that stretch -- losing to the Pacers twice, Pelicans, Grizzlies, Bulls, Raptors and Wizards. The Pistons have had a habit of being the miracle elixir for struggling teams, but we'll see what happens tonight.
Keys to the Game
Big men play big -- I'm not going to predict another 20-20 game for Drummond or anything but his combination of size and athleticism should be no match for Brand, Mike Scott and Paul Millsap. Monroe, meanwhile, usually is extremely effective against teams such as the Hawks, who don't have shotblockers or guys that can push Moose around. If the Pistons want to win this game they will have to do it through their big guys.
Josh Smith must play better -- This one might sound obvious but the struggling Smith has been especially dreadful in the two games against his former team. Smith is shooting 22.7 percent against the Hawks, shooting 5-for-22 and 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. Similar to Dre and Moose, Atlanta's personnel dictates that Smith should be able to find success in the paint, if only he's willing to work for it.
Beware of Kyle Korver -- Korver is the most prolific 3-point threat in today's NBA. The Hawks are desperate for an offensive spark and Korver could hit a zillion 3s if he is left open to do so. Because the Hawks are missing so many offensive contributors (Horford is out and DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague are questionable), Korver should never be left open.
Question of the Game
Will you be excited if the Pistons win tonight?