Coverage at 7:30 pm ET
Charlotte: 3-4 (0-3 road)
Pistons: 3-4 (2-1 home)
No matter which way you slice it, the Charlotte Bobcats are the league's worst offensive team. They're in the league's basement in terms of shooting percentage, points per game and offensive efficiency. Despite their offensive woes, the Bobcats share the Pistons' 3-4 record going into tonight's game. The Bobcats remain neck-and-neck with Detroit thanks to rebounding (2nd in the NBA) and defensive efficiency (4th in the NBA), two hurdles which the Pistons will have to overcome tonight at the Palace.
The Bobcats owe their strength in rebounding to Gerald Wallace, who is presently leading the league in rebounding at 13.1 per game. They also owe their shooting woes to Wallace, who is leading the team in shot attempts (13.3) but unable to find the bottom of the basket-- shooting just 33.3% from the field this season. Might Wallace find his stroke tonight against Detroit's rookie small forwards and 3-guard lineup?
The Pistons go into tonight's game on three days of rest, while the Bobcats are on the 2nd night of a back-to-back. Add that to home court advantage, and Detroit has the clear upper hand.
Take your (slim) pick: 1) playing against Larry Brown, 2) facing ex-Pistons Nazr Mohammed and Flip "4th Quarter Slaughter" Murray, 3) last year's late season battle against Charlotte for the 8th seed. Yeah, I'm grasping for straws. There's no drama going into this game.
Keys for Detroit:
Crash the boards: I have the feeling I can just cut and paste this one for the remainder of the season. (Kevin's maxim is even more important tonight, against the league's number 2 rebounder)
Frontcourt Scoring: We can't rely on our guards to win this one alone, especially since our driving point guards will be met with the shot blocking Tyson Chandler (*threw up in my mouth a little*) in the paint. If Charlie Villanueva can continue to come into his own, the Pistons have a good shot at getting back to .500 on the season.
Speed it up a little: The only team that plays at a slower pace than the Bobcats is the Pistons. We play at their pace, which doesn't take Charlotte out of their element. Speed things up, look for outlet passes and run the floor. They're on the second night of a back-to-back, so it's time to exploit their slow pace and tired legs, instead of making them comfortable.
Question of the Game
Can Charlie Villanueva continue to heat up, or at least show that the ice is gone completely? In the last three games, he's put up 20 points, 6 rebounds and almost a block on 60% shooting from the field. If he can keep that pace or even improve, we'll certainly have this game in our hands.