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Pistons vs. Nets preview: Detroit’s defense faces serious test against James Harden and Kyrie Irving-led Nets

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Brooklyn Nets: Offensive Juggernauts, Defensive MyPillows

Los Angeles Clippers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons recently wrapped up a grueling four-game West Coast road trip, where they matched up against some of the best teams the Western Conference has to offer. They went 0-4 away from Little Caesars Arena, and they’ll have no reprieve on Tuesday night, as they welcome the James Harden and Kyrie Irving-led Brooklyn Nets to the Motor City.

Brooklyn will be without Kevin Durant for the second straight game due to NBA COVID protocols, although initial reports have stated that Durant has continued to test negative over the past few days. Luckily for the Nets, they should have Kyrie Irving back in the lineup after he missed Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers with a right finger sprain.

The good news for Detroit is that the Nets have recently hit a rough patch. They’ve lost three of their last four games, and are just 4-6 on the road so far this season. And even though it’s unlikely, the Pistons may be able to take advantage against the struggling Nets. Detroit, this season, has found a way to play their best ball against the cream of the crop of the NBA, especially when those top teams have been without one of their All-Stars (see Lakers, Sixers games).

Game Vitals

When: Tuesday, February 8, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

Analysis

The Brooklyn Nets; offensive juggernauts, defensive MyPillows. It’s truly remarkable that the Nets have been able to play winning basketball while seemingly not caring at all about the defensive side of the floor. They’ve allowed a league-worst 119.3 points per 100 possessions over their last 15 games, and are coming off a five-game stretch in which their opponents have scored an average of 128.2 points per game.

What’s most surprising is this strategy may be by design. You DO win games by outscoring your opponents, after all.

And boy do they have scoring. Over that same 15 game stretch, they’ve boasted the league’s second best offense, having averaged 119.5 points per 100 possessions, which is good (?) for a +0.2 net rating. James Harden and Kyrie Irving have averaged a collective 51.6 points per game this season, and even though they’ll be without Durant, both Harden and Irving are capable of singlehandedly winning a game on their own.

Will this “I can barely scare more than you” tactic lead to a long playoff run? Remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a strategy that can work against a 5-18 Pistons team that has the 27th ranked offense in the NBA.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (5-18):
Delon Wright, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Blake Griffin, Mason Plumlee

Brooklyn Nets (14-11):
Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris, Jeff Green, DeAndre Jordan