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Pistons vs. Pacers preview: Detroit looks to split home-and-home with Indiana

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Detroit most solve the Domantas Sabonis problem if it wants to win

Detroit Pistons v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons were pretty handily outclassed by the Indiana Pacers on Monday night because of myriad issues — but the biggest one was named Damontas Sabonis. The young Pacers big man scored 18 points and had 12 rebounds. Sabonis has owned the Pistons all season to the tune of 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 73.5 percent from the floor. It’s a problem.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

Analysis

At this point in the season, it’s less the games that matter and instead focus turns on the Magic Number. What is the number to ensure the Pistons make the playoffs? That number is currently three. That means that any combination of Detroit wins and Orlando Magic losses get the Pistons one step closer to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the Magic play the lowly New York Knicks while the Pistons are stuck playing the very good Indiana Pacers. If Detroit manages to steal one away the magic number becomes two. If Orlando also chokes away its game the number becomes just one.

For Detroit to actually win, however, it needs to do a much better job against the Pacers than it did Monday night. The team is likely still going to be without Blake Griffin and probably also without Luke Kennard who are nursing ankle and foot issues, respectively.

That means the game largely rests on the extremely broad shoulders of Andre Drummond. Drummond must do a much better job defensively in trying to contain both Sabonis and Myles Turner.

The Pacers scored 52 points in the paint and Sabonis and Turner combined for 36 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks.

It can’t all be on Dre, of course, but with Griffin down and Thon Maker’s limited physique, coach Dwane Casey turned to Zaza Pachulia and Jon Leuer for 17 truly dreadful minutes off the bench.

The two combined to go 0-of-2 from the floor with an assist, rebound, turnover and four personal fouls (good job, Zaza). That’s not going to get it done.

Projected Lineups

Detroit (38-37)

Reggie Jackson, Wayne Ellington, Bruce Brown, Blake Griffin (hopefully), Andre Drummond

Indiana (46-32)

Cory Joseph, Tyreke Evans, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner

Question of the game

How easy is it to hack Twitter and manipulate polling data? Asking for a friend.