For the third of four this year against the Hawks, the Pistons are in my current hometown of Atlanta, where they have not won since before I moved here four years ago. (I think that means I need to move back to Michigan, right?)
The Pistons have split the two games this lockout shortened season back in Auburn Hills. Detroit won the last meeting on March 9 thanks to a late make by the veteran leader Tayshaun Prince for an 86-85 win.
A Pistons win tonight matches their longest winning streak of the season: four.
Game Tips at 7:30 p.m. ET; Hawks -8.5
The Pistons are really winning. As I said in last night's recap, they've won 17 of their last 31 games, a winning percentage that would put them in the No. 7 spot this year if sustained over the course of the season. One of those wins includes beating these Atlanta Hawks, who are currently jockeying for home court in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Atlanta has lost three of their last five, but they appear to be in pretty good position in at least establishing home court with the sideshow going on in Orlando. They're currently tied with the Magic for the No. 5 spot and are just 1.5 games back of the Indiana Pacers for third place.
The Hawks have Josh Smith and we wish we had Josh Smith. At the All-Star break he was arguably not worthy of a spot on the East team, like Moose was, in my opinion, but he's stepped it up and is coming off a rather monstrous March. The Pistons have done a pretty good job on Smith this season, though; he's just 14-for-35 from the floor and the Pistons' front court has managed big games (Maxiell had 19 and 12 in the win last month -- actually, he has exactly 19 in his last three games against Atlanta and is averaging 11 rebounds).
Atlanta will hopefully be a welcome sight for Brandon Knight, who has been horrible his last five games (38-percent shooting, ZERO FTA, 17 assists and 16 turnovers). Knight's only 8-for-23 against the Hawks this year, but he did have one of his better games this season with 20 points, eight assists and no turnovers in the overtime loss.
Keys to the game:
Feed the Moose: Moose has 34 shots in the first two games against the Hawks and presents match up problems for Zaza. This has been a running theme all season, feed him.
BENCH: The Pistons are on the back-end of a back-to-back home-and-away. The bench could play a huge role in this game.
Stop the unreasonably rich Joe Johnson: He went off in the first game for 30 points and stands the reason the Pistons blew it.
Questions of the game:
1) Would you welcome Isiah back to the Pistons organization in some capacity? Go here to answer that question.
2) Not taking into consideration money, who would you rather have -- Ben Gordon or Kirk Hinrich?
3) Will Maxiell eat any of Smith's babies?