The Detroit Pistons have taken advantage of their franchise-record nine-game homestand, which ends tonight against the Dallas Mavericks. The Pistons are 6-2 and have beaten every team not named the Atlanta Hawks, including the surging Hornets and Thunder.
The Mavericks have been in a bit of a funk lately, losing 10 of 14, but have won their last two games, beating the Nuggets and Knicks. And while the Pistons have built themselves a little breathing room in the playoff race, the Mavs sit at the very edge, just a half-game up on the ninth-place Rockets. That makes Dallas both hungry and dangerous, and Detroit cannot afford to overlook their opponent.
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan
When: Friday, April 1, 2016, 7:30 p.m. EST
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, 105.1 FM
Defense is a foreign concept to both of these teams, especially lately. While Detroit has been giving up an embarrassing 108.2 points per 100 possessions since March 3, somehow Dallas has been even worse with a 109.1 mark that ranks better than only the Nets, Grizzlies and Blazers.
Dirk Nowitzki can still be deadly on offense, but he is getting torched more than ever on defense as the talent of his supporting cast has been whittled down and can no longer hide some of his deficiencies. And while their guards are still dangerous (even the enigma that is J.J. Barea), they can't stop penetration and it leads to a scrambling defense that inevitably can't account for every shooter or driver, and thus an easy bucket for the opposition.
That could mean a big night for Reggie Jackson, who has been struggling during the team's homestand. And if recent history is any indication, Drummond could have a big night as well. In the past two seasons, Drummond has had games of 25 points and 17 rebounds, six points and 19 rebounds and 19 points and 24 rebounds. The Pistons are also 2-1 in those matchups, including March 9 when the Pistons won a hard-fought 102-96 game in Dallas.
Ironically, the Mav who has struggled most during the team's modest two-game winning streak has been Nowitzki. He is 9-of-40 shooting, but he played well in the first meeting with Detroit (25 and 10).
Marcus Morris vs. Wesley Matthews
With Chandler Parsons out of the lineup, Dallas has gone with a two-point guard attack and slid Matthews to the small forward spot. Matthews has been on fire from 3-point range in the six games without Parsons, hitting 51 percent on nearly eight attempts per game.
Morris, meanwhile, definitely has the size advantage to attempt to punish Matthews on the block and should net a sizeable rebound advantage as well. Morris is also no slouch from deep lately, connecting on 54 percent of his attempts in the past six contests while also hitting 56.7 percent from the field overall.
tl;dr -- get the damn ball to Marcus Morris tonight.
Last Time We Met
Pistons win 102-96, March 9, 2016
Detroit gutted out the victory behind some electric offense from Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris as well as a dominant showing from Drummond. The spark, however, was Steve Blake, who had a great fourth quarter to seal the victory for Detroit. Dallas kept it close thanks to a vintage Dirk showing and a 25-point burst from Parsons.
A not-close game.
Rick Carlise recently admitted he read Mavs Moneyball. Do you think Stan Van Gundy ever reads DBB?