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Pistons vs. Bulls Preview: No time to mope as Detroit enters playoff-style game

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At least Detroit probably won’t have to play against another Lopez.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

The game that got away, well, the two games that got away, were both played against the Brooklyn Nets. During last night’s contest, it appeared that only a few players decided to show up in what was a must-win game against the league’s worst team. Things did not go Detroit’s way.

Brook Lopez hit a running jumper as time expired, sending the should-be-ashamed-Pistons back to the airport to catch a flight to Chicago for another must-win game against the struggling Chicago Bulls.

Detroit is now a full game back from the No. 8 seed Miami Heat, and 1.5 games back from the Milwaukee Bucks. Chicago is currently one game back from Detroit. The playoff implications in this game are palpable.

Game Vitals

When: March 22nd at 8:00 p.m. EST

Where: The United Center, Chicago, Illinois

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

It’s no secret that the Pistons are awful on the second game of a back-to-back. They’re not just awful, they’re actually the NBA’s worst in that category. This season Detroit boasts a 3-10 record, good for a 23.1 percent win percentage, and are averaging a double digit loss (-10.3) on the second game of a back-to-back.

The Chicago Bulls will also be playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but they are one of the better teams while playing on no rest. Chicago is currently tied for 10th in that category, boasting an 8-7 record. Although they are averaging a net loss (-3.3) in these games.

Last night, Chicago squandered a double-digit fourth quarter lead, eventually losing to the Toronto Raptors in overtime, ending the NBA’s strangest losing streak. There were certainly some fireworks in that game, as Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka exchanged fisticuffs following a slight shove from the latter.

In case you haven’t seen the fight yet, well, here you go!

What does this fight mean for the Pistons? In all likelihood, Robin Lopez will be suspended for tonight’s game (and possibly for more games after that). That is good news for Detroit - Not only will it help the Pistons forget the Lopez family all together, but Robin Lopez has caused headaches for Andre Drummond in previous games. He is currently three points better per game in games against Detroit (13.3 compared to 10.3 ppg), and boasts a plus/minus of 10 in those games (compared to -0.3 for the entire season).

Chicago will also be without Dwyane Wade, who injured his elbow last week and will miss the remainder of the regular season. Wade also missed the last meeting against the Pistons with an unrelated injury, and it showed. Jimmy Butler ran out of gas in the second half and couldn’t generate enough offense down the stretch for Chicago.

Detroit will have a rested Reggie Jackson (benched for entire fourth quarter), Stanley Johnson (DNP- CD), and Andre Drummond (did not play most of fourth quarter) to hopefully inject some life into the fatigued Pistons, although you never know if that will actually be the case.

Reggie Jackson had perhaps his best game of the season the last time these two teams played, going for 14-fourth quarter points to absolutely carry the Pistons. Perhaps a rested Reggie can replicate that feat, and get the Pistons closer to the playoffs.

And, if you wanted to standings-watch a little bit, Milwaukee plays the last game of their 6-game road trip tonight against Sacramento on a back-to-back. If you’re still up, root for the kids out in Sacramento - the Pistons could use the help.

Projected Lineups

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond

Chicago

Rajon Rondo, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, Paul Zipser, Cristiano Felicio

Prediction

The embarrassing loss to the Brooklyn Nets should, SHOULD, inspire elevated play, but it’s more likely that the Bulls struggle to contain Andre without Lopez.

Detroit 102, Chicago 97