Oh how three weeks changes things. On Dec. 22, the Detroit Pistons were 5-23 and only eight-tenths of a percentage point higher than the New York Knicks in the standings. They were seven games out of a playoff spot. On the same day, the New Orleans Pelicans were in eighth place in the Western Conference by two-tenths of a percentage point over the Phoenix Suns. Today, the Pistons are only two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Pelicans are sitting just outside the Western playoff picture, three games behind.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that Detroit has won nine of its 10 games during that span. New Orleans has only won four games out of 10 in that same time span. Those wins were not bad wins. They were against the San Antonio Spurs, the Phoenix Suns (who are ahead of them in the standings for the eighth spot), the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies. However, those wins were all at home and their losses were mostly on the road, and some against bad teams. They lost in Boston, in Charlotte, home against Washington, in San Antonio, in Chicago, and in Indiana.
This is nothing new. The Pelicans have been a bad road team most of the year, and they are actually one of a few teams who do not thrive against Eastern Conference teams. They have played 20 games on the road and have won only six. They have played 12 games against the Eastern Conference and won only four. For all of the defense that Anthony Davis provides, the Pelicans only have a point differential of +0.3. In their last 20 games, they are 8-5 when scoring 100 or more points.
Since Christmas, Detroit has had the third best Defensive Rating in the league. They have the fifth best opponent points per game over that time as well, at 96 points per game.
However, that does not mean that this game will be a walk in the park for the Pistons. Yes, the Pistons are 3-1 at home since Christmas, but they are also 5-14 at home on the year. That MAY have something to do with lack of support prior to Christmas, and that only loss was to the hottest team in the East (and probably the entire NBA), the Atlanta Hawks. Lets hope that the Pistons have a lot of fans supporting them tonight at The Palace.
Last Time We Met
January 24th, 2014 - Pelicans win 103-101.
As a time honored tradition, the Pistons lost to the Pelicans via a fourth quarter collapse. After a furious third quarter that saw the Pistons go on a 30-4 run to come back from six down to end the quarter up by nine, the Pistons let the Pelicans outscore them by 11 in the fourth. It was a tie game until Eric Gordon hit a driving layup with 1.9 seconds left to take the lead. Brandon Jennings decided not to call a timeout and instead heaved a ball from midcourt that was off the mark.
Greg Monroe had an off night with only eight points and 11 rebounds to go with five turnovers in 25 minutes. Andre Drummond had a monster game with 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting to go with 20 rebounds (10 offensive), an assist, a steal and two blocks. Jennings lead the Pistons in scoring with 28 (12 from the free throw line) and seven assists and two steals opposite one turnover. Anthony Davis was "quieted" with 14 points (on 4-for-12 shooting), eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks.
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
When: 7:30 PM ET, January 14th, 2015
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Players to Watch
Pistons: Andre Drummond
Drummond got his customary double-double on Monday with 10 points and 14 rebounds against the Toronto Raptors. However, he and Greg Monroe had a difficult time stopping Jonas Valanciunas who 14 points and six rebounds on 7-for-8 shooting in the first quarter alone. He would finish with 31 points on 14-for-15 shooting and 12 rebounds. Today he will be going up against Omer Asik most of the time, who's not nearly as talented as Valanciunas.
Pelicans: Anthony Davis
Dude is a beast. He is averaging 24.1 points (fourth in the league) on 56-percent shooting. Not to mention he is also grabbing 10.4 rebounds (eleventh in the league), taking 1.5 steals and swatting 2.9 shots (league leader) per game. He is what makes the Pelicans go. Question is, can Greg Monroe contain him?
Without being able to watch the last game they played against each other, I am not sure how much of his containment was due to Monroe, and how much was due to the elite defensive stopper we had at the time (who logged 41 minutes that night). But if the Pistons can contain Davis, they have a very good shot at getting the win.
Pistons: Jennings, Caldwell-Pope, Singler, Monroe, Drummond
Pelicans: Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Dante Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Omer Asik
Pelicans: Holiday (ankle - questionable)
Do you fear the brow?