The Detroit Pistons are embarking on a new four-game road trip after a brief pit stop in Detroit to get smacked around 88-73 by the suddenly socially conscious Miami Heat. This trip starts in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks, and then sees the team visit Washington, Cleveland and Chicago. 0-4? 2-2? It all starts tonight.
Game Tips Off at 7:30P.M. EST
Detroit Pistons: 16 - 31 (4 - 19 road)
New York Knicks: 23 - 25 (14 - 10 home)
The Pistons are looking to avoid a season sweep by the Knicks, who haven't gone undefeated against Detroit in a season since 1995-96. Unfortunately, the Pistons will once again be without starting shooting guard Rodney Stuckey, who continues to nurse a toe injury. The closest thing to an update I have is this Tweet sent yesterday from Keith Langlois:
Stuckey won't play tonight (left toe), but MRI was negative and LFrank says he's optimistic he'll be back at some point during 4-game trip.— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) March 23, 2012
UPDATE: Not only is Stuckey out, but Will Bynum is out for the game as well, reportedly battling a virus. That means Walker D. Russell is the only guard off the bench.
They also run into a Knicks team that is playing its best ball all season, as the team has responded well since the resignation of Mike D'Antoni. It seems interim coach, and former Pistons assistant, Mike Woodson knows that the offense needs to run through Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudamire, #Linsanity be damned.
The Knicks were 5-0 under Woodson until last night when they shot just over 36 percent from the floor in a 96-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday. Those games featured a similarly high-powered offense but a much stingier defense than in the latter days of the Dantoni era. But good defense is not totally foreign to the Knicks, thanks in large part to Tyson Chandler. For the season, the Knicks rank sixth in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
Keys to the Game:
Big Game Ben Gordon -- Yes, Gordon struggled against the Heat, but the Pistons really have no choice but to give Gordon every opportunity to find his stroke again. He won't have as difficult a defensive assignment and Chandler is going to shut down the paint so the Pistons will need someone to hit an ample number of jumpers. Maybe some of that purpose he always plays with when visiting Boston will rub off in New York.
Don't bail them out -- The Knicks have a suspect offense and the last thing the Pistons should do is allow them to isolate, create contact and get easy points at the free-throw line. New York has pedestrian numbers from 3-point range and shooting outside the paint in general so the Pistons need to play sound defense and use their feet not their hands. The Knicks attempt 25 free throws per game. If the Pistons can cut that number to the 15-20 range they could have a chance.
Feed the Moose -- Greg Monroe rarely has two subpar games in a row. He stunk against Miami on Friday, tallying five points, six rebounds and three turnovers in 23 minutes. Well, both teams are working on back-to-backs and Monroe had a pretty light load last night so hopefully he can go off tonight.
Jeremy Shu-How Lin -- Simply put, Jeremy Lin is a good player. But the last thing I want to see on my television tonight is him scoring 25+ points with 10+ assists and for the commentators to gush about Lin. I'm over it. Let's move on.
Question of the Game:
Who has a better night in the backcourt -- Ben Gordon or Brandon Knight?