The Detroit Pistons already caught lightning in a bottle once when they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers by 15 points just over a week ago. If they’re going to take down the defending champs for a second time, they’ll have to catch an entire thunderstorm in an eye dropper.
The Lakers haven’t dropped a game since they lost in the Motor City, having taken down the Celtics, Hawks and Nuggets consecutively, with their most impressive win coming on Thursday night when they dismantled Denver by 21 points. Detroit on the other hand hasn’t won a game so far on its West Coast road trip. They’ve lost their last three games and are coming off a 17-point loss to the Phoenix Suns last night.
When: Saturday, February 6, 10:00 p.m. EST
Where: The Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
The Lakers were without Anthony Davis for the first go around, but not tonight - their All-Star big man is back in the lineup, which can only mean bad things for Mason Plumlee and company.
Not only has Davis been an offensive behemoth this season, with a healthy 21.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, he’s also a nightmare on the defensive side of the floor. He’s averaging nearly two blocks per game, which is good for fifth in the NBA, and anchoring the league’s best defense. The Lakers are only allowing 104.4 points per 100 possessions, which is nearly two points per 100 possessions better than last year’s Lakers team that went onto to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. In other words, there’s a near 0% probability that Plumlee will match his 17-point, 10-board performance that he had when these teams last matched up.
And while Anthony Davis and MVP frontrunner LeBron James deserve a TON of praise, their new and improved supporting cast may be the one of the most important factors for this team’s success so far this season, and a major reason as to why many think they’ll win a second straight championship. In the offseason, they added both the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and the runner-up, in Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder. Those two have combined to average 27.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. They’ve both filled their roles perfectly, Schroder as the secondary ball-handler and offense initiator behind James, and Harrell as the small-ball center that’s prime to pop off for 20 points and 10 boards any random night where he’s got a favorable match-up.
They also have a couple of vets that provide the necessary spacing for LBJ and AD to operate. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (#PayThatMan) is shooting an impressive 48% from three, while Alex Caruso is shooting 46% from beyond the long line. And while they’re only hitting a combined three threes per game, their improved shooting has lead to more aggressive closeouts from opposing defenses, which leads to a more spread out floor and allows this Lakers offense to continue to hum.
Detroit Pistons (5-17)
Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Mason Plumlee
Los Angeles Lakers (17-6)
Dennis Schroder, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol