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Pistons vs. Hawks preview: Offensive improvements needed as Detroit faces league’s worst

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

After the Detroit Pistons suffered their first loss of the Blake Griffin era, they’ll look to refocus and take advantage of their upcoming favorable schedule. The Pistons couldn’t have asked for a better opponent following Friday night’s defeat to the LA Clippers, as they visit the (17-39) Atlanta Hawks, who currently hold the league’s worst record.

They’ll play the Hawks two times in their next three games. Detroit currently sits at 2-0 on the year, and they’ll wrap up the season series on Wednesday night back at Little Caesars Arena.

Game Vitals

When: Sunday, 3:30 P.M. EST

Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

Watch: FSND +, NBA League Pass

Odds: Detroit -3.5

Analysis

While the Hawks aren’t exactly in win-now mode, one shouldn’t expect them to lie down and accept defeat. They’ve won three of their last seven games, taking out the Timberwolves (playoff team), the Knicks (vying for playoffs) and they’ve recently dismantled the Grizzlies by 26 points, a team Detroit only managed to beat by two when they last matched up.

With that being said, Detroit is clearly in win-now mode, and has enough talent on this roster to where this game SHOULD be a win for the road team. And although Detroit has won five of their last six games, including four of five with Blake Griffin in the line-up, there is plenty of areas that need to be improved if the Pistons are to be taken seriously in the Eastern Conference.

While the Pistons offense has drastically improved with the addition of Blake Griffin, ranking 10th in the league over their last five games (109.3 offensive rating), they need to continue to move the ball, and more importantly move bodies, especially when games are tight. As SVG noted...

Below you’ll see a clip from the fourth quarter of the Clippers game, where Blake Griffin cleared out one side of the floor for a running hook. The other Pistons, not a part of the play.

This play only could have lead to only two results, Blake Griffin either makes the shot, or he misses and the Clippers get the ball. Detroit had no shot at nabbing an offensive rebound, and no one was in position to receive a pass from Griffin if he decided to bail on the attempt.

Once again, you’ll notice Blake Griffin in an iso-situation, with the paint clearly clogged.

The Clippers defense feels no pressure to play help-D (since the Pistons aren’t moving or looking to space), they stick to their guys, and are in clear position to nab the defensive rebound if/when Griffin misses the shot.

It’s clear that this Detroit Pistons team is a better team than two weeks ago, but they need to improve an at-times stagnant offense, if they’re going to continue to pile up wins. Tonight’s game against the league’s worst team is the perfect platform for Detroit to work on elements of the offense, and hopefully inject some movement, making life easier for all.

Prediction

Pistons right the ship.

Detroit 109, Atlanta 101