Two Central Division rivals, currently trending in the wrong direction, meet up Monday night at the United Center, in search of a much-needed win. The Detroit Pistons need to get back to .500 against the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls have lost their last three games in dramatic fashion: Giving up a 21 point lead to the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on national television, followed by another national television loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, followed by a blowout loss to the Bucks where they only managed to score 69 points at home.
However, the fact that the wheels on the Bulls have momentarily fallen off is the only positive Detroit can take into this game. The Pistons have played an equally uninspired brand of basketball, getting blown out in back-to-back games. The second blowout, a 105-90 shellacking at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, resulted in a player-only meeting immediately after the game.
If the Pistons are to get back on track, beating a team that could very well be vying for a playoff spot/positioning would be a nice start.
When: December 19th, 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: The United Center, Chicago, IL
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Detroit’s stagnant offense has been one of the major culprits in their losses as of late. With Reggie Jackson’s return, so has returned some of the tendencies that made the Pistons offense unwatchable at times. The lack of ball movement, player movement, and consistent perimeter shooting has been a toxic brew for Detroit.
The stats from the last five games tell the story:
Detroit Offense Last 5 games:
28th: pace (91.91 possessions per 48 minutes)
27th: field goals attempted (81.4)
26th: points per game (97.8) and assist percentage (54.3 percent)
25th: rebounds per game (41.2), assists per game (20.0) and percentage of points off turnovers (12.5 percent)
23rd: fast break points (9.2 percent)
The Pistons offense has been painstakingly slow and sloppy as of late. It’s clear that this team is still re-integrating Reggie Jackson and his style of play, and one would hope that with every game under his belt, the closer he’ll be back to 100 percent and have this team back to a more efficient offense. The Pistons are going to need it because their schedule gets a lot tougher in the coming week; after this game they have a rough homestand against Memphis, Cleveland, Golden State, and Milwaukee.
We know that fast-paced offense typically starts off with a rebound, but every Piston not named Andre Drummond is failing to rebound well. This is not good; it means the team cannot create easy looks at the cup or force the defense to collapse in transition. Although Detroit will never be the Houston Rockets or Golden State Warriors, with their top-10 defense, talented starting line-up, and fast-paced backup point guard leading the second unit, they should at least be able to play at a faster pace and get easier buckets in transition. When Detroit plays at a faster tempo (starting with a great defensive effort), they tend to win, and win big in doing so.
Luckily for Detroit, Chicago boasts one of the worst offensive groups in the entire NBA. Chicago ranks 23rd in points per game (101.1), 29th in effective field goal percentage (46.5 percent), 27th in true shooting percentage (51.6 percent) and dead last in both three points attempted (19.6 percent) and three point field goal percentage (30.3 percent).
Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond
Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez
If Detroit is to escape the United Center with a win, they’ll need to capitalize on the Bulls inefficient offense, and push the pace against an older team. The Pistons are hopefully going to be re-energized after their player-only meeting, and one would expect that they’ll bring newfound intensity into Chicago, resulting in a win for the guys in red and blue.
Some question the effectiveness of player-only meetings, but with these meetings it at least shows that the players are accepting accountability for their role in the team’s overall poor performance. This should bode well for Detroit.
Detroit 104, Chicago 97
What immediate changes (if any) are you expecting to see following the Pistons player-only meeting?