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Pistons vs. Pelicans Preview: Perpetual Playoff Picture Paroxysms

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Both the Pistons and the Pelicans are scrapping to stay in the playoff picture

New Orleans Pelicans v Detroit Pistons Photo by B. Sevald/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons have to put a disappointing loss to Atlanta behind them immediately, as they take on the New Orleans Pelicans, who have been struggling to stay aloft without DeMarcus Cousins. Both of these teams need to win to stay in stalking distance of the playoffs - the Pelicans’ recent slide has them only a half-game above the Los Angeles Clippers for the final playoff spot in the West, and the Pistons currently are on the outside looking in the Eastern conference playoff race.

Both of these teams sound like they could use a break, honestly.

Game Vitals:

When: Monday, Feb. 12, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
Odds: Detroit -2.5

Analysis:

After the DeMarcus Cousins injury, the Pelicans made a trade to get Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls to shore up their big man rotation. In four games of Mirotic, the Pelicans are 1-3, losing to Minnesota (acceptable) the suddenly red-hot Utah Jazz (acceptable), and Philadelphia (completely unacceptable from a Detroit perspective). Then, they needed an all-world performance from Anthony Davis and two overtimes to put away the Brooklyn Nets 138-128. The Pels have a defensive rating of 110 and a net rating of -11 in those four games.

Pelicans fans appear to be handling everything well:

Actually, that sounds kind of like what DBB sounds like after the Pistons lose.

For his part, Mirotic is averaging 14 and 9, but slashing 38/26/64 - hardly what the Pelicans were looking for when they surrendered a first-round pick for him. The fit with he and Davis is something to watch - it forces Davis to play up at center most of the time, something he has implied he doesn’t want to do (if he was fine with it, why trade for Boogie and/or carry the Asik/Ajinca big man rotation?). All this, of course, is pointing to the pairing working flawlessly tonight, and Mirotic torching the Pistons for 30 on 7 threes, while I rend my sackcloth and sit in ashes.

Just a normal Monday night.

For the Pistons, Blake Griffin remains the beating heart of everything they’re doing offensively, but that heart has been arrhythmic at times.

When it works, though, it’s a sight the Pistons have not seen in a decade.

Reggie Bullock has been on a tear lately - he was well deserving of that piece from The Athletic Detroit on him. Bullock is currently leading the league in three-point accuracy (45.8 percent) and has been big for the Pistons. Unfortunately, the question has been how involved he will be in the offense in the second half of games.

Depending on your perspective, defenses either key harder on him after halftime, or the Pistons forget he’s on the floor. Either way, Reggie needs some second-half looks, whether that’s the pet DHO or transition threes. He’s been too good to cut out of the offense.

Lastly, I want to swipe this clip from the latest exquisite Close Out from Mike Snyder:

Then, I want to add my own:

A: You should go read the Close Out. Yes, I linked it twice. Go do it, I’ll wait.
B: This is why you don’t give up on 21-year-old wings. Especially when they pair so well with your 21-year-old sniper.

Between Bullock, Stanley, Luke Kennard, and newly-acquired James Ennis III, the Pistons are the deepest they’ve been on the wing since... Tayshaun Prince / Richard Hamilton / Arron Afflalo / The immortal Walter Herrmann?

It’s been a while since the Pistons have been good on the wing, is what I’m trying to say.

Prediction

On a back-to-back, against an All-NBA-level player the Pistons have historically been unable to hinder... I’m still taking the Pistons. Playoffs or bust, people.

Detroit 120, New Orleans 112