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Pistons vs Rockets game preview: Well, lets try that again

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Detroit plays the second part of their home-and-home with one of the West’s best

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons lost a close one to the Rockets, 126-124, on Wednesday. The triple threat of Chris Paul (20 points, seven assists), Clint Capela (a spoon-fed 27 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks) and MVP James Harden (43 points - aided by 19-19 from the free throw line - nine assists, and four steals) proved too much for the duo of Blake Griffin (37 points - aided by 13-15 at the free throw line - 11 rebounds, four assists) and Andre Drummond (20 points, 11 rebounds). Detroit will get their next crack at Houston tonight, at home - the first game of their season-long six-game homestand over the coming weeks.

Game Vitals:

When: November 23, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: NBA TV (oh no)

Analysis

What caused the Pistons to lose Wednesday night? An inability to recognize when a mismatch is not a mismatch:

Andre Drummond picked up his fourth foul with seven minutes to go in the third quarter, and the Pistons spent the next seven minutes getting Blake Griffin the switch onto James Harden and very little coming out of it. Harden is not always the most attentive defender, but he is known for his engaged and willing defense on post-up plays. The Pistons scored their fewest points of any quarter in the third, and got outscored 37-26 in the period. The game was fairly close otherwise, quarter-by-quarter, but that’s all it can take against a team as proficient as the Rockets.

What could cause the Pistons to lose tonight? An alignment between the shots they want teams to take and the shots teams want to take against them:

This is the textbook definition of the kind of shot drop coverage wants to elicit - a mid-range jumper, with the opposing big sealed and unable to get the rebound. Unfortunately, the guy TAKING the shot is Chris Paul, who has quite literally made a living off of that shot his entire career.

I complained about this in the latest DBB Podcast (from two weeks ago, my shame is immeasurable) - yes, the short time period between games in an NBA season doesn’t lend itself well to changing up your defensive scheme game-to-game, but you can’t let one of the best point guards in the league shoot his pet shot and expect to win, either.

Detroit isn’t favored in this game, nor should they be. Houston is a superior team, rounding into shape after the (unfortunate? disastrous? well-intentioned?) Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams experiments. But the Pistons can win this game by limiting the quality of the looks they want teams to take, and by not pushing on the door clearly marked “Pull.”

Of course, this game IS on NBA TV, so they’re due to lose in embarrassing fashion, coloring conventional national opinion about them for another few weeks. Reminder: It could be worse. It could ALWAYS be worse.

Lineups:

Detroit (8-7):
Reggie Jackson, Reggie Bullock, Glenn Robinson III, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Houston (9-7):
Chris Paul, James Harden, James Ennis III, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela

Community Question:

How much weight have you gained in the last 36 hours?