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Pistons vs. Grizzlies preview: Drummond and Jackson look to rebound from weak showing in Charlotte

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Motown’s main men face a fresh challenge from Mike Conley and Marc Gasol of 'grit and grind' Memphis.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Between them, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson have been recognized three times as Eastern Conference Player of the Week this season. But after Monday night’s loss to the Hornets, when those two Pistons sputtered to produce only 13 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists, fans were left wondering if their two stars actually stayed home to prepare for Wednesday night's game against the Grizzlies. Seeing as how they only played half a game, they should be rested.

Game Vitals

Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

When: Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 7:30 PM EST

Watch: FSD

Game Analysis

Detroit has already played six back-to-backs this season, so they have no reason to feel sympathy for a Memphis squad that entertained the Thunder last night at FedEx Forum. This match also marks the Grizzlies’ sixth back-to-back, though they have posted a 4-1 record thus far in the second game – a sign of a savvy veteran team. By comparison, the Pistons are 2-4 in such contests.

Memphis carries the same record as Detroit – 12-10 – after last night’s thunderous loss to Oklahoma City, 125-88. Mario Chalmers came off the bench to lead them with 19 points as Conley was held scoreless (0-7 with six assists). After being embarrassed at home, the Pistons should expect even a tired Grizzlies team to be hungry to vindicate themselves.

Considering that both their offense and defense are rated 25th, and that their point differential is – 4.7, Memphis is fortunate to be sitting at sixth in the Worstern Conference standings. The leaky defense is the biggest surprise, because they were second best in the NBA last year. This problem could become more severe if center Marc Gasol misses tonight’s game because of a sprained ankle he suffered versus the Thunder.

At .304 percent, the Grizzlies remain one the least effective three-point shooting teams. But they are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Detroit at the foul line, where their .837 mark tops everyone. Gasol lead the scoring with 16.1 points per game, and Conley contributes 14.7 ppg and 6.2 assists. Among the supporting cast, 34-year-old Zach Randolph’s 13.7 ppg and 8.6 rpg are significantly down from 2014-15.

Detroit has won its past five home games and is 8-2 at The Palace. The loss to Charlotte dipped them to tenth in the Eastern Conference. Their strength is a starting line-up that averages 75.4 points of the 98.3 the team averages per game. The weakness is the bench, which relies on rookie Stanley Johnson (8.2 ppg) for most of its offensive output.

The weak three-point accuracy (.318 percent) remains an offensive concern along with the bottom dwelling free throw shooting (.653 percent). The defense is rated sixth best, however, which has helped the Pistons contest most of their games. Their point differential is + .5.

Lineup Projection

Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond

Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Jeff Green, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

Injured/In Doubt

Pistons: Brandon Jennings (Achilles – out for three weeks), Jodie Meeks (foot - out for 10 weeks)

Grizzlies: Jordan Adams (right knee soreness), Marc Gasol (sprained ankle - questionable), Jarell Martin (broken foot), Brandan Wright (knee injury-questionable)

Key Matchup

Reggie Jackson versus Mike Conley

Jackson (19.3 ppg and 6.3 apg) is the engine for Detroit’s attack, and he will face a solid defender in Conley. If he can consistently penetrate the paint off the pick-and-roll with Drummond, the Pistons offense will hum on all cylinders. Conley is not usually a major scoring threat, but historically he has been Memphis’ most consistent three-point shooter.

Last Time We Met

March 17, 2015 at The Palace, Pistons won 105-95

Jackson scored 23 points and dished out 20 dimes to lead Detroit to victory, halting a 10-game slide. Anthony Tolliver scored 15 in his first start, as Greg Monroe was held out with a knee injury suffered in practice. Caldwell-Pope tossed in 21 points. Green led the Grizzlies with 21 points; Conley missed the action due to an injury. This game was the turning point in Jackson’s fortunes as a Piston.

Score Prediction

Pistons 96, Grizzlies 92

Community Question

Will Jackson and Drummond both register a double-double tonight?