Pistons at Kings: Monroe vs. Cousins showdown

Let’s be honest here. Whenever the Kings and Pistons play each other these days, the matchup everyone pays close attention to is Greg Monroe vs. DeMarcus Cousins. Unfortunately for Moose, the previous three times, Cousins has won the individual battle, averaging 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists on 51.4 percent shooting. Compared to Monroe’s 6.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists on 47.4 percent shooting. But Monroe, more importantly, has won all three matchups.

Back in February, the last time these two teams met, the Pistons won 114-108 thanks to a dominating performance by its starting backcourt, Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight. Stuckey scored his season-high 36 points in that game and Knight had the best game of his young career—scoring 23 points and dishing out 10 assists with zero turnovers. Yes, zero turnovers.

[Great preview, Fuad! Going from lurker to commenter is one thing, but lurker to preview writer? We need more like you, new friend! -Mike Payne-]

Game Tips at 10:00 p.m. EST

Detroit Pistons: 15-27 (3-16 road)

Sacramento Kings: 14-28 (10-8 home)

The Situation:

The Kings are coming off an embarrassing loss at home last night to the Golden State Warriors—who were playing shorthanded after the trade that sent Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. You have to figure Sacramento will come out with more fight in them tonight to try and redeem themselves. The Kings are also in the midst of a nine-game homestand—the longest in franchise history.

Outside of the Monroe vs. Cousins matchup, there is another matchup that is really intriguing. Stuckey vs. Tyreke Evans—who in a lot of ways are similar players, will be fun to watch tonight. Stuckey is playing the best ball of his career and is in the middle of a great stretch over the past 10 games—averaging 19.2 points on 47.4 percent shooting. He has looked poised and under control this season. Evans, on the other hand, has had questions about him so far in his career about whether he’s a point guard or shooting guard (sound familiar?), but on the surface, his numbers are solid once again this year. Also, he’s one of only five players in NBA history to average at least 18 points, five assists and five rebounds through age 22 while playing at least 100 games. Not bad, huh? Tom Ziller of pointed this out here.

Look out for Isaiah Thomas. The 5’9’’ rookie has surprised a lot of people with his play so far and has really come on strong for the Kings. He can be very dangerous (Dammit, Joe could have drafted him. And his name is Isaiah Thomas!)

Keys to the game:

Feed the Moose: Even though the Pistons have beaten the Kings before with Monroe being ineffective, I would love to see him step up and outshine Cousins this time around. And plus, coming off a game in which he struggled against Al Jefferson, it would be nice to get him back on track. Get him some hoops early on to give him confidence.

Rebound the ball: The Kings average 43.2 rebounds per game, which ranks ninth in the league.

Finish the game: The last two road games for the Pistons, they played really well against the Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz. But down the stretch of both, they completely fell apart. I expect a close game tonight—let’s see if the Pistons can learn from their mistakes and get a W.

Question of the Game:

With the trade deadline tomorrow, will this be the final game for someone in a Pistons uniform?

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