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Pistons vs Nets preview: Tiebreaker time

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With a win tonight, the Pistons can seize a playoff tiebreaker over a team behind them in the standings

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Undefeated in March, winners of 12 out their last 15 games, the Detroit Pistons roll into Brooklyn sizzling. The Brooklyn Nets, on the other hand, have slowed after a hot stretch in December and January, going 6-6 in their last 12 games, including losses to the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, and Charlotte Hornets. However, Brooklyn has the rest advantage, and the two games these teams have played (both ALL the way back in October) have been decided by three points or less. It figures to be a close, entertaining match in Brooklyn tonight.

Game Vitals:

When: March 11, 2019, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
Odds: Det +2.0

Analysis:

We all know (or, at least, we have an idea) that the Pistons have had the highest offensive rating in the NBA (120.9) since the All-Star break. However, what we might not expect is that the ostensibly high-scoring, run-and-gun Nets have the fourth-LOWEST ORTG in the NBA after the All-Star Break. Shooting 40 threes a game at only 32 percent, as Brooklyn has done in that time period, will do that to you.

(Also: Good shooters shooting a lot of threes at a low percentage... where have we seen that before?)

Brooklyn’s strength is in the breadth and depth of their guard play; on any given night, All-Star D’Angelo Russell, Noted Pistons Killer Spencer Dinwiddie, Three-Point Contest Winner Joe Harris, Caris LeVert (returned, thankfully, from that horrific-looking leg injury), and even Shabazz Napier can get hot from the outside and force a team to alter its defensive game plan. The good news for the Pistons is that none of those players are notably bigger than their Detroit counterparts - Dinwiddie and Harris have good size at 6’6, but even that’s not in the range of the 6’8, 6’9 perimeter players that Detroit is ill-equipped to defend one-on-one.

The better news for Detroit is that Brooklyn still doesn’t have anyone capable of checking Blake Griffin. Blake has put up stat lines of 26-8-6 and 25-9-4 in the two games against the Nets this season, and Brooklyn is currently starting 210-pound Rodions Kurucs at power forward. Relatively rested after playing only 27 minutes against the Bulls on Sunday, Blake should have the energy to drive whoever’s matched up with him into the paint and score at will.

The Pistons are currently a half-game up on the Nets in the standings, and a win would give Detroit the head-to-head tiebreaker over Brooklyn. Both of these teams are currently projected to be playoff teams, so the tiebreaker is more about positioning than making it in, but having that tiebreaker, and the opportunity to control your playoff destiny, is still important to the Pistons.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit Pistons (34-31):
Reggie Jackson, Wayne Ellington, Bruce Brown Jr., Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Brooklyn Nets (35-33):
D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs, Jarrett Allen

Prediction:

Detroit 115, Brooklyn 109