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Bulls vs. Pistons preview: Playoff positioning on the line as Pistons host Bulls

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With a win against Chicago, the Pistons would move into a seventh place tie in the Eastern Conference.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A win against the Chicago Bulls would put Detroit at 31-32 on the year and move the Pistons into a seventh place tie alongside our Windy City rival.

The Indiana Pacers, sitting at 32-30 and in the sixth seed, host the Pistons Wednesday.

So, yeah, it should a fun couple days.

Game Vitals

When: March 6th at 7:30

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Game Analysis

The Pistons and Bulls split their two games earlier this year with each team winning at home and also play again later this month.

Tonight, though, the Bulls might have a different look than you remember:

  • Both Dwyane Wade(strained left quadriceps) and Rajon Rondo(sprained ankle) are ailing and questionable.
  • They moved Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to Oklahoma City at the trade deadline.
  • The roles of Paul Zipser, Cristiano Felicio, Denzel Valentine and Cameron Payne (from OKC) have all increased.

The one constant remains Jimmy Butler.

Since the All Star break, though, Butler has (relatively) struggled averaging a shade over 17 points a game on 38 percent shooting.

In their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers over the weekend, the Bulls All Star forward registered seven shots - for the entire game.

Clippers’ defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute made the night one soon to forget as he hounded Butler for all 94 feet:

Butler is a physical player and uses his strength to create shots when shots aren’t typically there. Above, Mbah a Moute absorbs the Butler contact on the jump stop but doesn’t give an inch. By doing so, Butler is forced to take highly contested fade-a-way.

Like all teams, the Bulls incorporate a high pick and roll into their offense and below is an example of how to successfully defend a Butler led PNR:

LMAM funnels Butler to his help in DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin covers the rolling Robin Lopez. This leaves Butler with two options: Bobby Portis in the corner or another contested jump shot.

(On a complete side note, I know the Clippers are annoying but their PNR defense is outstanding. If I had one wish, I wouldn’t wish for millions of dollars. Nope, I’d wish for Andre Drummond to defend the PNR like DeAndre Jordan.)

****

After tonight, there are 19 games remaining on the schedule and after all the drama and complaining, the Pistons have a chance to not only make the playoffs but draw an encouraging match-up (encouraging = anyone but Cleveland).

I want to get excited about this team.

But I can’t until there is an ounce of consistency.

I want to tell people to give them a chance.

But I can’t until there is an ounce of consistency.

I want to watch meaningful Detroit basketball in April.

But I can’t until there is an ounce of consistency.

A favorable outcome tonight and Wednesday’s game in Indiana would go a long way in the consistency department.

Projected Lineups

Chicago

Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine, Robin Lopez, Jimmy Butler, Bobby Portis

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Jon Leuer, Marcus Morris

Prediction

The win is there for the taking. There are no travel excuses, everyone is relatively healthy and they’re at home.

Bulls 98, Pistons 109