While the Detroit Pistons are chasing the 76ers for the playoffs, Miami Heat were no help last night, falling to the Sixers 103-97. Hopefully, the Sixers took enough out of them for the Pistons to handle them on the back-to-back. Detroit, on the other hand, is trying to scrap its way back into the playoff chase - even after the Blake Griffin trade, 538 only gives them a 37 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Any city with three casinos downtown doesn’t particularly care about the odds, though.
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
When: Feb 3, 7:00 p.m. EST
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
Odds: Detroit -1.0
Miami is hot (oh god I can’t believe I typed that), going 10-6 in their last 16 games, which has propelled them all the way up to No. 4 in the East. Their strength is in their depth - Goran Dragic is their all-star, Hassan Whiteside is really good, but Erik Spolestra has the likes of Wayne Ellington, Justise Winslow, and Tyler Johnson ready to go at all times.
Rookie Bam Adebayo, in particular is a bolt of energy off the bench for the Heat, giving them the ability to compete defensively despite the team being undersized when Hassan Whiteside isn’t on the court. Adebayo versus Reed (or Moreland) is a nice undercard to the usual Andre Drummond - Hassan Whiteside bouts.
Detroit will have to play better when Blake Griffin is not on the floor to match Miami’s depth. In Griffin’s first game, he was an impact player for the Pistons, with a plus/minus of +23 in his 35 minutes. The Pistons, however, won the game by only two points - and needed every drop of Blake’s playmaking ability to do so.
One guy the Pistons will need more from moving forward is Luke Kennard. Kennard, shooting 43/42/86 on the year, has only shot 30/28/87 in his last five games. The first time these two teams played at LCA, it was Kennard’s “breakout” game, where he scored 14 points and closed the game for Detroit. Post-Griffin-Trade, with only Reggie Bullock ahead of him in the rotation, the Pistons really need Luke to rediscover the form he had earlier this year - starting against a team he’s already had success against.
Ish Smith, Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond
Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside
Detroit 104, Miami 100