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Pistons vs. Nuggets preview: Didn’t we just do this? Detroit hopes to end trip with win in Denver

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The only way these two teams play again this year would be in the Finals. Any takers?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Denver Nuggets Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit returns the favor and plays the visiting role one week after a 103-86 win over these very same Nuggets in Auburn Hills. It’s fair to say the Pistons have struggled on the road with winnable losses at Brooklyn and Phoenix so an actual winnable win in Denver would feel real nice right about now.

Four games separated the third seed Miami Heat and the eighth seeded Detroit Pistons last year and it’s going to be another close race come April 2017. These are games we need to win - with or without Reggie Jackson - so we don’t look back at the schedule and say “what if?”

Game Vitals

When: November 12, 9 p.m. EST

Where: Pepsi Center; Denver, Colorado

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Game Analysis

19 points and 20 rebounds from Andre Drummond last time these two met. Speaking only for myself, I seem to take those numbers for granted.

19 and 20?!

Those are great raw numbers; All Star, All NBA type of stat line; it’s the reason we love the big fella.

With that said....

In Drummond’s season preview, DBB’s Steve Hinson made note of Dre’s knack of hoisting (bad) shots no matter the circumstance. With that in mind, two plays stuck out to me during that first Denver game.

Both include Drummond making a fantastic defensive effort to ignite a fast break.

In the first play and after the block, Dre grabs the loose ball, looks off Tobias Harris and takes the ball to the hoop. After a (generous) gather step he euro-steps around Emmanuel Mudiay, gets fouled and goes to the line.

I’ll admit, it’s incredible he has the ability to do one of those things let alone all of them but is it the best basketball play?

Want to make life easier? After the loose ball, find a ball handler.

Something like this:

Of course the variables surrounding both plays aren’t exactly the same but it’s a continued example of how Drummond makes his own job harder. Euro-stepping around the opposing point guard? That doesn’t cut it.

A sure sign of basketball adulthood is being focused on the end result rather than how you looked getting there. For every time that euro-step works and ends up on a Vine, there are countless times the ball is turned over or the possession ends with a high degree of difficulty type of shot.

I’m going to assume he doesn’t care but anytime Drummond takes more than three dribbles, I get a little nervous. He certainly has the talent to put the ball on the floor but at what cost?

Until that’s polished, stay in your lane.

19 and 20, though? That’s awesome and we (me) shouldn’t take it for granted.

*****

Benton Harbor’s Wilson Chandler scored a game high 21 points in the first meeting and presents a difficult match-up for Detroit as he can spot up shoot, create his own look or create shots for others.

With a sore hamstring, he’s listed as day-to-day so there is possibility we could catch a break. However, a couple plays caught my eye.

Above, the entire Detroit defense gravitates towards the Jameer Nelson/Ken Faried pick and roll. When Nelson leaves his feet, he finds a wide open Chandler in the weak side corner.

Marcus Morris gets sucked in trying to negate any type of Faried rim run, by the time the ball is passed to Wilson, it’s way too late to recover.

As always, on court personnel matters; the smarter play would be for Jon Leuer to bump Faried and take away the roll. Although he can shoot a little, I’ll take my chances with Juan Hernangomez taking that shot.

*****

Chandler is an athlete that doesn’t shy away from contact. Below, he receives a Nelson pass via pick and roll and takes it directly to the hoop to meet Aron Baynes.

No one likes to meet Aron Baynes.

However, there is no euro-step, no double clutch, no up and under, no nothing except a bucket (cc Andre Drummond).

Lineups

Detroit

Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris

Denver

Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Jokic

Prediction

Calling a game played in Denver “winnable” isn’t a slight towards the Nuggets or the Stiffs but if these Pistons are who we thought they were before the season, it’s a game that SVG and company ought to win.

No one around the league cares about Reggie Jackson being out, the standings won’t differentiate a game played with or without Jackson. The losses at Brooklyn and Phoenix hurt. It’s got to stop and I think it will, especially if:

Detroit 102, Denver 97