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Pistons vs. Clippers preview: Detroit tries to steal one from one of West's best

The Pistons play early on MLK Day looking to beat a good team -- a really good team.


Detroit Pistons: (17-23, 7-13 home)
Los Angeles Clippers: (28-14, 10-11 road)
Tip off: 1 p.m. ET

The Pistons have won three of four but have done little to inspire confidence lately. Their wins have come against mediocre teams and they have piled up losses recently against teams with losing records. Detroit has had the second easiest schedule in its last 10 games and has a paltry 3-7 record to show for it while being outscored by a stupefying 10.4 points per game behind only the Magic and Bucks in the same span.

The Situation

So is there any reason to hope? Well, sure. Josh Smith looked like a player who might single-handedly lose the game against the Wizards in the first half, going 0-for-6. But he turned things around in the second half, shooting 8-for-11 and scoring 20 points. Likewise, the team actually played some legitimate team defense in the second half against the Wizards, led by KCP limiting the dangerous Bradley Beal on the perimeter and the team as a whole actually looking like it had a clue. The game also featured strong outings from Rodney Stuckey (20 points), Kyle Singler (14 points) and double-doubles from Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.

Alas, these Clippers are not the Wizards even though they are missing Chris Paul. LA has won five of seven since their point guard went down led by an underrated Blake Griffin, who has rounded out his game nicely in the past year, including some nice passing that is coming to the forefront with Paul out. Darren Collison has replaced Paul in the starting lineup, and the offseason target of many at DBB who wanted to explore buy-low options has played remarkably well, averaging 15 points, 6.7 assists, 2 turnovers and shooting 55.1 percent.

Keys to the Game

Moose's minutes: Monroe notched a double-double against the Wizards in just 31 minutes and only seven shots. More minutes, more touches, please. The less I see of Moose the closer I come to fearing/accepting the inevitable.

Big-man communication: The Clips give up rebounds and points in the paint because other than DeAndre Jordan they play really small and Blake Griffin isn't that great of a rebounder. Advantage Pistons. That being said, Jordan is a force unto himself, leading the league in rebounds per game. Drummond, Monroe and Smith will need to seal off the paint and not allow Jordan to convert any easy opportunities. Speaking of easy opportunities, both Jordan and Griffin excel at cutting into the lane whenever they are given the slightest opening. This could spell trouble for Drummond and Monroe particularly, who communicate and react poorly in the painted area.

3-point shooting: Surprisingly, the Clippers are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league despite having built their roster specifically to bolster it's long-range shooting. Just about everyone on the team is having one of their worst season from 3, including offseason additions JJ Redick and Jared Dudley. But the Pistons have the remarkable ability to be the miracle cure for every team's shooting woes.

Question of the Game

Martin Luther King Jr. is most celebrated for his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963. But did you know he delivered an even longer "I have a dream" refrain, the most celebrated portion of the speech, two months earlier, June 23 at Cobo Hall in Detroit? Read and hear the entire speech here.

And so I go back to the South not in despair. I go back to the South not with a feeling that we are caught in a dark dungeon that will never lead to a way out. I go back believing that the new day is coming. And so this afternoon, I have a dream. (Go ahead) It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day, right down in Georgia and Mississippi and Alabama, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to live together as brothers.

I have a dream this afternoon (I have a dream) that one day, [Applause] one day little white children and little Negro children will be able to join hands as brothers and sisters.

I have a dream this afternoon that one day, [Applause] that one day men will no longer burn down houses and the church of God simply because people want to be free.

I have a dream this afternoon (I have a dream) that there will be a day that we will no longer face the atrocities that Emmett Till had to face or Medgar Evers had to face, that all men can live with dignity.

I have a dream this afternoon (Yeah) that my four little children, that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin. [Applause]

I have a dream this afternoon that one day right here in Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere that their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job. [Applause] (That's right)

Yes, I have a dream this afternoon that one day in this land the words of Amos will become real and "justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I have a dream this evening that one day we will recognize the words of Jefferson that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I have a dream this afternoon. [Applause]

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and "every valley shall be exalted, and every hill shall be made low; the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places plain; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." [Applause]

I have a dream this afternoon that the brotherhood of man will become a reality in this day.