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Pistons vs. Mavericks Preview: Can Detroit's struggling defense stop Dallas' high-powered offense?

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The Pistons (32-31) and Mavericks (33-31) have nearly identical records and play nearly identical basketball.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons start a four-game road trip this evening in Dallas against the high-powered Mavericks. On the outside looking in, the Pistons do not have much wiggle room to waste winnable opportunities. But will the Pistons' struggling defense be able to handle the Mavericks' offense?

Game Details

When: Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 at 8:30 PM ET

Where: American Airlines Center - Dallas, TX

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Game Analysis

The Pistons and Mavericks have near identical records -- the Pistons are 32-31 and the Mavericks are 33-31. Over the last 10 games, the Mavericks are 4-6 and the Pistons are 5-5. However, the quality of their last 10 games have been very different.

The current combined record for the teams the Mavericks have played over their last 10 games is 272-360, a winning percentage of .430. For the Pistons, those numbers are 314-320, a winning percentage of .495. Half of the Pistons games during that stretch were on the road, but only two of the Mavericks' games were on the road.

Those reasons may also explain why the Mavericks have averaged 113.1 points per game over their last 10 games, second only to the Golden State Warriors. It may also explain why the Pistons have only averaged 100 points per game over their last 10 games, third-lowest in the NBA over their last 10.

The Pistons enter this game with two days of rest. On the season, they are 4-6 when playing on two days rest. Add to that the Mavericks record of 20-16 when they have only a day's rest and record of 19-14 at home. The Pistons also have a 13-20 record on the road, so this is a game that stats say the Pistons should lose.

It seems that the games the Pistons are supposed to lose this year are the ones that they come out and play their best. So, logically, they should win tonight.

They will still be entering this game short-handed with Stanley Johnson, Anthony Tolliver, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jodie Meeks all still out with injuries. But in the time that all of them have been out, the Pistons have been playing some pretty good team ball.  Let's hope that continues tonight.

Last time we met

January 7th, 2015 at Dallas - Pistons 108, Mavericks 95

In the midst of their amazing 12-3 run after the release of Josh Smith, the Pistons walloped the Mavericks in Dallas, ending a six-game losing streak at the American Airlines Center. Most of the main contributors of that win are no longer with the Pistons: Greg "Moose" Monroe - 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting with 18 rebounds and six assists; Brandon "$wag" Jennings - 14 points on 7-18 shooting, with six assists and four rebounds; D.J. Augustin - 26 points on 9-16 shooting including four triples. Andre Drummond chipped in 19 boards but was 3-for-11 from the field. Only five Pistons players who played in that game are still on the team, and only Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Drummond will get any playing time tonight of those five. This win was after the high of beating the San Antonio Spurs on the road; remember that game?

Players to Watch

Pistons: Andre Drummond

If Andre can follow what recent big men have done to the Mavericks, expect a huge game from him. Three games ago, DeMarcus Cousins had a 22 point, 13-rebound performance against the Mavs. The next game, Kenneth Faried had a 25 point, 20 rebound game. And in their last game, they let DeAndre Jordan get 23 points and 20 rebounds (Jordan also hit 11 of 19 free throws; maybe Andre can capture some of that magic too). In other word, Dallas has allowed two of the 12 20-point, 20-rebound games of the season in the last seven days. (Notably, five of the other 10 20-20 games this year belong to Drummond.)

The reason for this rash of insane play from bigs against the Mavericks is due to their centers: Zaza Pachulia and Salah Mejri. Actually, in the game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Pachulia and Mejri played a total of 21 minutes. This means that some combination of Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Powell, David Lee, and (gulp) Charlie Villanueva are having to cover minutes at center.

Is Drummond on your fantasy team?

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki

I love this dude's game. His step-back is nearly unstoppable (though he is shooting the worst percentage of his career outside of his rookie year). Will Tobias Harris be able to keep him in check?

Starting Lineups

Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Morris, Harris, Drummond

Mavericks: Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons, Nowitzki, Pachulia

Injuries

Pistons: Johnson (shoulder), Tolliver (knee), Dinwiddie (ankle), Meeks (foot)

Mavericks: N/A

Community Question

How do you feel about the Pistons chances to take this game and finish this road trip at .500 or better?