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Pistons vs. Mavericks: When will the losing stop? Probably not tonight

Greg Monroe and Charlie Villanueva expected back. Lawrence Frank still out.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons are 17 games under .500 but only four games under at home. The Mavericks, meanwhile, have only 10 road wins. And somehow I have zero confidence that the Pistons will be able to pull out a victory. They just haven't looked like a functional basketball team in quite a while.

Detroit Pistons: 23-40 (15-19 home)
Dallas Mavericks: 27-33 (10-21 road)
Detroit Pistons tickets

The Situation

Greg Monroe missed his first game ever due to injury. But luckily for the team (unless you're a tanking advocate), their multi-talented big man is expected back tonight. Charlie Villanueva is also expected to suit up tonight. Lawrence Frank will miss another game dealing with a personal family matter and Brian Hill will once again coach in his absence.

Their opponent, the Mavericks, have slim playoff hopes but are in the hunt enough to bring maximum effort tonight even against the dregs of the NBA. As a team the Mavs still have a functional offense but their old, slow defense, especially down low, has held them back all season.

They have a deep team but Shawn Marion has been the only one to play consistently tough defense. Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, et al., can no longer really rebound adequately enough. Still, with only Greg Monroe as a serious threat down low and Detroit's perimeter play spotty at best, the Mavs should still be able to contain the Pistons.

Keys to the Game

Greg Monroe: The big man has the skills to dominate any defender the Maverick's throw at him. We'll see what he is ready to bring to the table in his first game back. Even if he does have a monster game, however, it might not be enough.

Knight vs. Mayo: The Mavs are susceptible to perimeter players with range. Brandon Knight can sometimes change the entire game when his shot is falling. But when he struggles he really struggles. Mayo, meanwhile, is coming off a very nice 13-point, 12-assist game against Houston. My only hope is that Mayo struggles enough to eliminate him from contention as a possible future Piston.

Jose Calderon: 15 assists, less than four turnovers, please. If I have to see an ass-whipping at least let me enough some serious point guard play. He should be able to win his matchup with both former Piston Mike James, Darren Collison or Derek Fisher.

Question of the Game

How many more victories for the Detroit Pistons this season?