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Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic preview: Enough of the slow starts, please

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Pistons seek to end a five-game skid tonight in Orlando.

Orlando Magic v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons head to the Sunshine State with the straightforward objective of scoring more points than the 4-6 Orlando Magic. Doing so would end the current five-game losing streak that soured the pleasant 4-0 Pistons start to the season.

Game Vitals

When: November 7th, 2018 @ 7 p.m.
Where: Amway Center; Orlando, Florida
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, League Pass

Analysis

The last time Orlando hosted Detroit was early-March of 2018. Detroit came out flat (shocking, I know) despite a playoff berth dangling right in front of their faces. The (then) 19-43 Magic left the court with a 115 - 106 OT win. With zero sense of urgency, the Pistons would go on to lose seven of their next eight games which slammed the door shut on any post-season daydreaming.

Before the season started, I pegged the Pistons at between 44-46 wins, which means I expected them to lose between 36-38 times during the six-month season. Losing happens and it’s something that should be expected from a sub-.500 team.

But.

If the Pistons impose their basketball-will, tonight’s tilt becomes a very winnable road game. Again, I’ve already baked 35+ losses into the season and off-nights are part of the human element. All I ask of our Pistons is to not waste my fucking time. Another ho-hum Pistons start to the game is going to leave a bad taste in this source-less contributor’s mouth. I’ll never get those two-and-half hours back from early March and I’m not keen on flushing another two-and-half hours down the drain tonight. You (Pistons) don’t think I have anything else better to do? I mean, I don’t, but that’s not the point!

Fellas, take care of business.

Orlando has been in a perpetual rebuilding loop since Dwight Howard took his act to Hollywood in 2012 but they’ve acquired some nice pieces with all those high-end draft picks. OK, one nice and bounce-y piece in Aaron Gordon and two fun, but too-early-to-tell pieces in Mo Bamba and Jonathan Issac.

Gordon torched Blake Griffin and the Pistons during that SMH March game to the tune of 27 effortless points:

He is, by far, their most dynamic scorer and still evolving. Gordon registers buckets from anywhere on the court and does it evenly with 35-percent his field goal attempts coming at the rim, 33-percent from mid-range, and 33-percent from beyond the arc.

Nikola Vucevic has enjoyed an unspectacular yet rock-solid career since finding his way to Orlando via the previously mentioned 2012 Dwight Howard trade. In two games last year against Detroit, Vucevic scored 22 and 24 points while establishing himself as a certifiable headache for Andre Drummond, and in turn, me.

Vucevic gobbles up as many mid-range looks as the defense will allow this season. Expect a shot if Drummond is slow to defend:

The true seven-footer also owns a knack for setting himself up after screening for his teammates which derives from a traditional on-ball pick-and-pop or from an off-ball screen such as:

The Pistons can afford to lose the whereabouts of Vucevic.

At 52-percent on the young season, Vucevic has been a low-volume legitimate threat from three-point territory. All of his long-ball looks have been above the break and after setting a screen or as the trailer:

Again, don’t lose sight of this man.

The more I write, the more I’m talking myself out of a Pistons win. I hate watching when they’re supposed to win and this seems to be one of those nights. Fingers crossed.

Lineups

Detroit: Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown, Glenn Robinson III, Blake Griffin, ANdre Drummond

Orlando: D.J Augustin, Wesley Iwundu (*checks Google*, yep he’s a real player), Evan Fournier (*did not Google*), Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic

It’d be nice if we saw a return of Reggie Bullock tonight. Stay tuned to the GameThread for up-to-date lineups

Detroit Pistons 104

Orlando Magic 100