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Pistons vs Pacers preview: These guys again?

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The Pistons and Pacers will finish up their four-game season series before the new year

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers, at 19-14, are no longer a surprise success story. Victor Oladipo is on track to become an All-Star for the first time, they have the sixth (!) best offensive rating (108.7), and the seventh best net rating (+2.6). Nate McMillan, no one’s idea of a great coach, has pushed this collection of underrated kids (Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Oladipo) and properly rated vets (Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young) to the top half of the Eastern Conference.

That said, they are 1-2 against the Pistons, losing the last game a mere 11 days ago despite the Pistons missing Avery Bradley and it being Detroit’s second game of a back-to-back. Reggie Bullock took the assignment of slowing Oladipo, and executed well - Victor had 26 points, but it took 22 shots (and 12 three-point attempts) for him to get there.

Game Vitals:

When: December 26, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena - Detroit, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
Line: DET -2.0

Analysis:

Oladipo has been more of a mortal against the Pistons: He averages 25.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.8 steals on 49/43/79 against the league as a whole, but “only” 22.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and a steal on 35/48/69 against Detroit. Here’s what that looks like graphically:

In this case, red is good. Past performance does not guarantee future results, though, and Bullock and the Pistons will need to keep up that gameplan tonight.

Andre Drummond, on the other hand, is playing better against the Pacers than the rest of the league - he’s averaging 16 points and 16.3 rebounds in games against Indiana, versus a mere 14 points and 14.8 rebounds against the rest of the league. The great folks over at Indy Cornrows are... aware of their deficiencies against Drummond.

Andre’s partner-in-crime Reggie Jackson has been slumping, though. I won’t parade his numbers this month in front of you - suffice to say, they are ugly. Jackson’s hero-ball was unsightly but effective against the New York Knicks in the Pistons’ last game, as he scored seven of his 10 points in the last five minutes of the game. To my lyin’ eyes (or, as Rod Beard would say, according to the MOET Index), Reggie has looked sluggish for almost three weeks now. A confluence of factors (general sluggishness, trying to shoulder more of an offensive load without Avery Bradley, a heavy, difficult schedule, etc) are the likely culprits, but after three full days of rest, Pistons fans should keep their eyes peeled for how Jackson looks and plays.

Lastly, but certainly not least, we might get Round 2 of Stanley Johnson vs. Lance Stephenson tonight:

Projected Lineups:

Detroit Pistons:
Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Reggie Bullock, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond

Indiana Pacers:
Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner

Prediction:

The Pistons take the season series three to one, offering the first of (hopefully) many favorable tiebreaker scenarios.

Pacers 101, Pistons 105