Kevin is sitting a few rows behind the Pistons bench for this game (where he will gently suggest helpful advice to MC and Co. all night long, I'm sure), so I'm taking the preview reins back for the night.
GAME TIME: 8 PM ET
You know the Pistons technically have a winning record but lately play like a lottery team? Well, the Timberwolves are 11 games under .500 but lately have played like a contender.
Minnesota is 10-2 for the month of January, and while they've certainly played some patsies (two wins against the Bulls, two wins against the Bucks, wins against the Clippers and Thunder), the Pistons have lost to inferior teams in that same span. Make no mistake, the Pistons are underdogs -- both in the subjective minds of suspicious fans as well as objective minds of Vegas bookies.
I'm convinced this game will be won and lost in the paint: Al Jefferson is a bona fide star and Kevin Love is averaging a double-double (in 24 minutes!) for the month of January. Oh yeah, Randy Foye is playing his best ball of the season, as well. The only silver lining? This team still starts the virtually useless Sebastian Telfair.
If the fact that fans are nervous about a January game in Minnesota doesn't tell you things are messed up in Pistonsville, I don't know what to say.
Keys for Detroit:
Glue Rasheed to the paint: If the Pistons are going to have any luck stopping slowing down the Jefferson-Love tandem, they need their big men in the post the entire night.
Don't forget about the bench: I'm not sure who's starting (don't be surprised if Kwame Brown gets the nod, even after his disaster of an outing against the Rockets), but this is absolutely not the game to randomly give Jason Maxiell or Amir Johnson a DNP. You wouldn't it'd be necessary to point that out, but, um, it is.
Stay aggressive in the backcourt: What's the best way to deal with an opposing big man? Force him out of the game with foul trouble. Allen Iverson and Rodney Stuckey should attack the lane all night long. Even if AI keeps missing free throws, at least someone's getting stuck with a foul. Stuckey hasn't even attempted a free throw the last two games; that needs to change.
Question of the game:
Can Rasheed Wallace string together two solid outings in a row? Or was Sunday's 22-point, 11-board performance a black swan event? (Hi Petey!)