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Pistons vs. Timberwolves preview: Detroit looks to end losing streak to Minnesota

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Retribution must be had.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons will look to end their nine game losing streak vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday at The Palace.  The Pistons got revenge against the Denver Nuggets after their season-opener loss, and will look to do the same to the western strugglers, who are on a two-game win streak with Rick Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic all back and healthy.

Game Vitals

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI

When: Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, 6PM EST

Watch: FSD

Exceptionally Australian Analysis

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate.

Analysis Fit For DBB Royalty

Believe it or not, the Wolves are actually in form.  They've won their last two matches, against decent opposition.  Both games were decided by a solitary point, and victories over both Miami (102-101) and Memphis (90-89) have lifted Minnesota to 10 wins for the season.  They were expected to be in a rebuilding process, but I doubt many expected them to be this bad.  They have the second worst record in the league, ahead of the Knicks only because they have played one less game.  Lose, and they fall to a winning percentage of .186 at 10-41.

Minnesota has been a fanbase deprived of success pretty much since the Big Ticket left town in 2007, and actually haven't even made the playoffs since 2004, the longest active streak in the entire NBA, with 10 seasons of early endings (Detroit have the third longest active drought at 5 seasons, with Sacramento second at 8).  This is the longest drought in franchise history, and the third longest playoff drought in NBA history, tied with the Dallas Mavericks who didn't make the playoffs between 1990/91 and 1999/00.  For reference, the Los Angeles Clippers have the longest drought in history, stretching 15 seasons between 1976/77 and 1990/91, while Golden State comes in second at 12 between 1994/95 and 2005/06.  The reason I bring these up is because, well, considering the state of the team and the usual length of a rebuilding process, plus the uber-competitive nature of the West, I can easily see this drought surpassing Golden State's mark of 12.  They're pretty much guaranteed to hit number 11 this year, but T'wolves fans can take solace in a young core of Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad which appears to be very solid and entertaining.

The Pistons come into this matchup on the back of a relatively comfortable 98-88 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.  While Denver made a few runs throughout the match, the Pistons appeared comfortable, and the lead grew to over 20 in the second half before settling at 10 by full time.  The antlered behemoth of Greg Monroe dominated the game and finished with a double 21, while D.J. Augustin added 22 and 11 assists.  Over the last seven games, these two have played starring roles for a Detroit squad looking to climb the Eastern Conference ladder and claw its way into a surprisingly gettable playoff spot.  Over the aforementioned seven game span, which started the first game without Brandon Jennings, Monroe has averaged 18 points and nearly 13 rebounds a game, while Augustin has produced a siimilar performance to his Chicago resurrection last season, averaging 20.4 points and 9 assists over that span.

However, while our point guard play and interior presence have been consistent, our wing play has lacked badly.  Our assortment of small forwards can't defend, and their shotmaking ability is too inconsistent.  Kyle Singler scored 2 points against Denver in 28 minutes, shooting 1-7 and 0-5 on threes.  Caron Butler didn't fare much better, going 2-7 including 1-6 from three on his way to 5 points in 20 minutes.  That's 48 combined minutes from Kyle Singler and Butler, the whole game from the SF slot, and they combined for a measly 7 points on 3-14 shooting, including 1-11 from three.  It's not like they add a whole lot apart from shooting either, as they combined for 4 rebounds (3 for Singler) and 3 assists.  I know it's rare for both options at the same position to have equally horrific games, but this highlights the need for an upgrade at the SF slot in either the draft or free agency if the team is serious at a playoff push in the years to come.*

*See community question

Last Time We Met

Oct. 30, 2014, MIN won 97-91 (season series 1-0 MIN)

We opened the season with a back-to-back in Denver and Minnesota, and it really showed this game.  The lethargy was on show from the very start, and it took a late Caron Butler rally to restore respectability to the scoreline.  Butler scored 24, a game high, while Augustin added 20 and Drummond recorded his first double double of the season with 11 and 12 rebounds.  Thaddeus Young led the Wolves with 19 points.

Players To Watch

Pistons: D.J. Augustin

D.J. has averaged crazy numbers since Jennings went down with his injury, so look for him to continue his hot form tonight.  However, he has been prone to the occasional dud, and he'll need to be strong defensively against a bigger point guard in the 6'4" Ricky Rubio.

Wolves: Andrew Wiggins

Just watch Singler and Butler try and guard him.

Connections

-- Pistons F Anthony Tolliver played for Minnesota from 2010-12

-- Pistons F Caron Butler played with Wolves G Mo Williams for LA Clippers in 2011-12

-- Pistons G Jodie Meeks played with Wolves F Thaddeus Young in Philadelphia from 2010-12

-- Wolves coach and prez. of basketball operations Flip Saunders was the coach of Detroit from 2005-08

-- Wolves G Lorenzo Brown was on Detroit's training camp roster and was practically begging to be signed by Detroit whilst playing for D-League affiliate Grand Rapids

-- Wolves F Chase Budinger was drafted by Detroit 44th overall in 2009 and traded to Houston on draft day

-- Wolves F Glenn Robinson III played collegiately at Michigan from 2012-14

Score Prediction

Detroit has had a day's rest and not had to travel, unlike last time against these guys.

Detroit 115 - 98 Minnesota

Lineup Prediction

Pistons: Augustin, Caldwell-Pope, Singler, Monroe, Drummond

Wolves: Rubio, Martin, Wiggins, Young, Pekovic

Injured/In Doubt

Pistons: Jennings (Achilles - :'( )

Wolves: Hummel (hand), Muhammad (oblique)

Community Question

Should the Pistons pick up the option on Caron Butler's contract for next season?