The Pistons find themselves on a mini losing streak, dropping their last two games in a heart-breaker against the Memphis Grizzlies and in an old-fashioned whooping against the San Antonio Spurs (the final score doesn't quite do it justice).
As we've discussed, the Playoff situation in the Eastern Conference is just too crowded for many of these losing streaks to happen. As of Saturday, the Pistons find themselves with only a half-game lead over the eight seed Celtics and a one-game lead over the Orlando Magic.
Perhaps the most significant shortcoming over the last two games has been defense at the point guard position. Against the Spurs, Tony Parker went wherever he wanted, got whatever he wanted, and ultimately did whatever he wanted. Neither Reggie Jackson or Brandon Jennings had any answers. Thirty-points in thirty-one minutes from Parker was just too much for the Pistons to overcome. And Parker is averaging just thirteen points per game, the lowest average since his rookie season. Ouch.
Against Memphis, Mario Chalmers, who is averaging only eleven points per game as a Grizzly, torched Detroit for twenty-five points and eight assists, including the heart-breaking game winner. Ouch, again.
And oh by the way, the Pistons face Stephen Curry on Saturday, who just happens to play point guard for a Warriors team that might be among the best in NBA history.
As my friend mophatt1 recently asked, who's going to step up?
On the night of Ben Wallace's jersey retirement, the Pistons could certainly use the hard-nosed, hard work defense that characterized Big Ben's tenure(s) in Detroit.
Keys to the Game
Figure out defense at the point guard position: Obviously, the odds of completely shutting down Steph Curry are slim, but the Pistons proved that they could at least make things difficult for him. Going all the way back to November 9, 2015, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope held Curry to twenty-two points on 39% shooting, which is about as good as can be done right now. If I were SVG, KCP would cover Curry from start to finish. When Curry sits, KCP sits. When Curry subs in, KCP subs in. And if Curry can overcome KCP's relentless defense, then tip of the hat for being that good.
Tap into the excitement of the crowd: I'm usually pretty skeptical about "intangibles," but the Pistons are in a unique situation on Saturday. Ben Wallace's jersey will be raised to the rafters in honor of everything he accomplished with and for the Pistons, and the crowd will surely be electric. Ride the wave of adrenaline that's sure to follow and channel some of that Ben Wallace hard work and passion. The Pistons will need every ounce of both.
Make Curry penetrate: There's no question that Curry is a phenom with the basketball, but the overwhelming majority of his shot attempts - nearly 70% - come from outside ten feet. Although he's certainly a capable finisher, he prefers to pull up when he senses even the slightest bit of space between him and the defender. Easier said that done, of course, but the Pistons should try to force Curry off the three-point line and hope that Drummond can frustrate his shooting and passing in the paint.
Of the Going to Work Pistons, should Ben Wallace's jersey be the first to be retired?