How about those Pistons!!! 4.5 games off a playoff spot with a 9-23 record. That, my friends, is the Eastern Conference in a nutshell. Unfortunately, the viewership of this game may be diminished thanks to the Detroit Lions' crucial playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys. Not much of a football fan, but I do follow the Lions for Detroit reasons, despite having no ties to the city, and I hope Justin Verlander can score lots of goals and help the team to victory (right?).
Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Mi
When: 6PM EST, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Exceptionally Detailed Analysis
Well, the Pistons have been riding the hot hand, and coupled with some favorable circumstances and matchups, have built a four-game winning streak, tied for the longest active streak in the NBA with Portland and Dallas. Brandon Jennings provided the swag, finishing with 29 points in the 97-81 win over New York. While the final scoreline indicates a 16 point margin, not small by any means, the reality is that the Pistons lambasted the hapless Knicks, and at one point were up 33 before a meaningless J.R. Smith run late restored an inkling of respectability, before the MSG crowd booed off the team, who were missing numerous key players such as Carmelo Anthony, Tim Hardaway Jr., Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert.
The Pistons are hot from deep, and this form is unsustainable. In the PSE, the team has hit 54 threes at a 44-percent clip, thanks to hot shooting from the likes of Jennings, Jodie Meeks and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The three-point barrage can be attributed to more space thanks to a traditional power forward in Monroe, and more perimeter threats, meaning that teams can no longer simply aggressively double a player knowing there is a negative standing on the three point line. This means more room and more open shots.
Sacramento won their last game 110-107, struggling to put away Minnesota, who have now lost 10 straight. DeMarcus Cousins had 19 and 7 rebounds while Derrick Williams added 17. The Kings have struggled recently, since firing head coach Mike Malone, due to an ownership with an inflated opinion of its basketball knowledge, and a GM who is nothing more than a marionette. Cousins has reverted back to frustrated sulking and the Kings, who had a promising start to the season, are now in danger of falling out of the playoff race in a tough Western Conference.
Players To Watch
Pistons: Greg Monroe
Greg has been amazingly average in the PSE (or Tolliverse, if you follow rookie Spencer Dinwiddie on Twitter). His shot hasn't fallen and his percentages have suffered, although it hasn't affected the team too much. If he can establish dominance early against probably the Kings' weakest position, then he can repeat his performance from the first matchup at the Sleep Train Arena.
Josh Smith DeMarcus Cousins
Boogie didn't play last time these two teams met, and since that time, both teams have deviated separate trajectories. Whether Cousins can overcome the deficit by himself we don't know, but his presence will surely help.
Last Time We Met
Dec.13, 2014 (PPSE [pre post Smith era]). The Pistons won 95-90 in Sacramento, with Josh Smith turning in a fantastic 21 point, 13 rebound performance, and Greg Monroe top scored with 24. Rudy Gay led the Kings with 20 points.
- Pistons F Caron Butler played with Kings F Reggie Evans for the Clippers in 2011-12
- Pistons C Andre Drummond played with Kings F Rudy Gay and C DeMarcus Cousins on the Team USA, gold-winning FIBA World Cup squad
- Pistons G D.J. Augustin played with Kings C Ryan Hollins for the Bobcats in 2008-09
- Kings G Ray McCallum Jr. was born in Detroit and played collegiately at Detroit-Mercy from 2010-13
- Kings G Nik Stauskas played collegiately at Michigan from 2012-14
- Kings asst. coach Corliss Williamson played 266 games for the Pistons from 2001-04, winning 6th Man of the Year in 2002 and the NBA Championship in 2004
I see no reason why the swag train has to stop now.
Pistons 104, Kings 90
Pistons: $WAG, Pope, Lebron-Stopper, Moose, Spare Tire Penguin
Kings: Collison, McLemore, Gay, Williams, Cousins
Kings: Casspi (knee), Moreland (shoulder), Sessions (back)
How fabulous are Anthony Tolliver's long socks, on a scale of 1 to MFMP.