Instead of facing a top 10 defense as they have four out of the last five games, the Pistons will face a top 10 offense in the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena Wednesday night. The Pistons offense has been getting better as of late, but can they keep up with the Hawks?
Where: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
When: Wednesday, December 23rd, 8:00 PM ET
Watch: FS Detroit
Again, the Pistons play the back end of a back-to-back against a rested team. The Pistons beat the Miami Heat 93-92 on Tuesday evening. Four of the Pistons starters played at least 30 minutes with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope playing 40.
After receiving Player of the Week honors for the second time this season, Reggie Jackson shot an efficient 8-for-16 for 18 points to lead the Pistons. Rookie Stanley Johnson played up to his matchup with Justise Winslow, scoring 14 points (in the first half alone) on 5-for-10 shooting including 4-for-7 from distance. Andre Drummond finished with a lackluster (for him) double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Pistons won the game despite being down by 18 points early in the second quarter. That is the fifth time the Pistons have come back to win a game this year when trailing by at least 10 points. That means in nearly 30-percent of the Pistons' wins this year, they have at one point been losing by 10 points or more. That is already half of their total from last year.
The Pistons may be given that "opportunity" again on Wednesday night as they take on the high-powered Hawks. They are averaging 101.2 points on the season which is actually less than the Pistons. The difference between the Pistons and Hawks is that the Hawks shoot it much more efficiently from everywhere on the floor.
Paul Millsap is the offensive leader of this team scoring 17.8 points per game. However, he is shooting rather inefficiently. He's shooting 2.7 three point attempts per game and only hitting them at 28.4-percent. That is narrowly better than what Josh Smith was doing in Detroit. Difference is that Millsap is a career 33.3-percent shooter from deep, so you still have to watch him.
Jeff Teague is having a very similar year to the one he had last year. Points are slightly down due to shooting the ball less efficiently, but his three-point percentage is the second best of his career. Jackson will have his work cut out for him on the defensive end.
If the Pistons can keep up their three-point shooting from Tuesday night, they should be in good shape to win this. Otherwise, they will need to rely on their defense.
Players to Watch
Pistons: Reggie Jackson
For whatever reason, Jackson's opening season performance left something to be desired. Overall it was not a bad performance offensively (15 points on 4-for-10 shooting, 2-for-4 from distance, with eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and only two turnovers). But defensively, Jackson struggled. The Hawks have two guards who can score, though not very efficiently.
Hawks: Paul Millsap
Millsap always seems to have a good game against the Pistons. He'll be playing against Ersan Ilyasova and occasionally against Andre Drummond. Millsap could abuse Ilyasova down low which could cause Drummond to want to stay in the paint, but it could allow Al Horford to be open for three. And while Horford is not a killer outside, he is taking three attempts per game and hitting them at 31.9-percent. Millsap will likely be the hub of the offense.
Last Time We Met
2015-16 Season Opener - Pistons 106, Hawks 94
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Pistons in scoring with 21 points on very efficient shooting. However, it was Andre Drummond who stole the show with a dominating 18 point, 19 rebound (8 offensive) performance. He actually shot more efficiently from the free throw line (6-for-10) than from the field (6-for-16). All five starters scored 15 or more points. Atlanta was led by Dennis Schroder with 20 points, Paul Millsap with 19 points and Jeff Teague with 18 points. The Pistons won despite shooting 38.5-percent.
Pistons: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Drummond
Hawks: Teague, Korver, Kent Bazemore, Millsap, Horford
Pistons: Jodie Meeks (Ankle)
Hawks: Millsap (Ankle, game-time decision)
Pistons win 111-95
Would a four game Pistons win streak be the best present you get on Christmas morning?