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Pistons vs. Jazz Preview: Desperate teams duel for needed win

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Flashback to late January 2018, the Utah Jazz found themselves 19-28 as the All-Star break approached, en route to another lottery pick in the upcoming draft. They weren’t good; they weren’t supposed to be good, having lost their franchise darling Gordon Hayward to the Celtics in free agency that past summer. The club’s momentum took a seemingly devastating hit.

They then went on a historic run, rattling off twenty nine wins in their final thirty five games, due to the emergence of their rookie sensation, Donovan Mitchell, and league leading defense - anchored by the 2017-18 DPOY, Rudy Gobert. The Jazz put the entire league on notice, and weren’t going to surprise anyone moving forward.

This year, the Jazz are supposed to be good, and at this point, sitting at 19-20 - 12th in the Western Conference, they are not. They’re not going to be able to replicate such a herculean comeback this year, but they shouldn’t need such an effort to make the playoffs. They’re currently 2.5 games back from the eighth seeded LA Lakers, and much like the Pistons, if they want to make the playoffs this year, it’s time to start winning some games.

Game Vitals

When: Saturday, 7:00 P.M. EST

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI

Watch: FSN Detroit, NBA League Pass

Analysis

The good news for the Pistons, the Jazz will be playing in their second game of a back to back, having freshly torched the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. The bad news for Detroit, the Jazz still possess one of the league’s best defenses, allowing just 105.5 points per 100 possessions.

And unless you’ve been watching (listening?) to the Pistons Bird Box style, you may have noticed that Detroit’s offense is about as electric as a pound of coal. The Pistons only manage to score 105.8 points per 100 possessions, ranking ahead of offensive juggernauts like the Bulls, Hawks, Suns, Magic, Cavs and Grizzlies. They also boast the leagues worst true shooting percentage at 52.9%.

If a team would like to improve their shooting percentage, one simple fix might be to allow and encourage their best shooters to shoot more often. Luke Kennard is a player who Detroit desperately needs to be more aggressive in looking for his own shot. There’s been too many instances this season where he hesitates to let it fly from beyond the arc, allowing opposing defenses to reset.

And what better way to calm (or flare) the nerves of all of the 2017 Draft revisionists, then by launching as many shots as possible against the guy you’ll be compared to for the rest of your career?! But really though, if Detroit wants to win more games, Bullock and Kennard are going to need to shoot more than a combined 16 times a game, which is their season average.

Speaking of the Spida, he’s having a cool start to his season, really cool, like ice cold. He’s looked more like Kobe Bryant on his farewell tour than the next Dwyane Wade, averaging 20 points per game, with a sub .500 true shooting percentage. He’s hit just 29% of his three point attempts, and is turning over the ball 2.7 times a night. He’ll have to play better if the Jazz are going to wake from their nap in time to make the postseason.

The Jazz are about as strapped for playmaking as the Pistons are. If Mitchell isn’t humming, they rely on the play of Ricky Rubio, or an injection shot from Dante Exum - but guys like Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert aren’t the type of players to single-handedly take over games, they need dribble penetration to find favorable situations.

Malignant offenses vs. above-average defenses. Let’s get it!

Starting Lineups

Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown Jr., Reggie Bullock, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert

Prediction

This game won’t be a fun watch, but hell, Pistons games aren’t supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to make you cringe, and think existential thoughts.

Pistons 100, Jazz 104

Community Question

More shot attempts, (Luke+Reggie B) or Donovan Mitchell?