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Pistons vs. Jazz preview: Another late game in the West

The Pistons West Coast swing continues into Utah, who the Pistons upset last week.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If you decided to deprive yourself of some sleep on Wednesday night, you witnessed a miraculous comeback against the Sacramento Kings. Overcoming a 10 point deficit in under 3 minutes is almost unheard of, but the Pistons managed to do that.

The last time they played the Jazz, the Pistons had another unheard of comeback when they overcame a 22 point 2nd half deficit to shock the Utah Jazz.

That loss has caused the Jazz to go into a bit of a spiral, as they have lost 3 of their last 4 games since that game. The Jazz will try to get back on track, although they will have to do it without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, who is in concussion protocol.

Game Vitals

Where: Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, UT
When: Friday, Jan. 21 at 9:00 PM EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (+13.5)

Analysis

The Pistons have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team over the last 11 games. They are 6-5, but have the lowest Net Rating in the league over that stretch of -9.4. Basically, when they lose, they are losing BADLY. But when they win, they are miraculously doing like they did against the Kings on Wednesday and the Jazz last time these two teams faced each other.

It is hard to tell if the Pistons are putting it together or just getting really lucky. Young teams are very fickle, and the Pistons in January have proven that.

The last time the Pistons and Jazz faced each other, the Jazz were without Rudy Gobert, and you saw the impact that had on their defense. The Pistons scored 126 points and shot 19-of-37 (!) from 3-point range.

The Jazz should have Gobert back tonight, but as mentioned above, will be without Donovan Mitchell. While Rudy Gobert has proven slightly more valuable simply due to how much worse their defense is without him, the Jazz have their offense built around Mitchell, so we will likely see a lower scoring game out of both teams.

Cade Cunningham was absolutely incredible against the Jazz the last time these teams played. He tied his career high with 29 points, but most of his production came in the 2nd half when the Pistons flipped the switch. However, since that game, with the exception of the game against the Suns in which he was tossed, Cade Cunningham has struggled.

He is fouling a lot more which is messing with his rhythm and playing time. Luckily, he will not have to deal with Donovan Mitchell tonight, which should help keep his fouls in check a bit. The Jazz are still a very formidable team without Mitchell as they have shooters across the roster and a solid team defense. They will definitely be more motivated to keep their foot on the gas after what happened the last time they played the Pistons.

Expect to see a heavy dose of Jordan Clarkson off the bench to make up for Mitchell’s absense. The Pistons will also have to contend with Rudy Gobert up front. I already mentioned his presence on defense, but the Pistons struggled with Hasan Whiteside in the last game because of the Pistons undersized front court. Gobert is a far better player than Hassan Whiteside on both ends. The return of Kelly Olynyk and his bigger size should definitely help a bit.

The Pistons proved they can beat the Jazz, even if the Jazz weren’t at full strength. With the Jazz once again not at full strength, this is a winnable game.

Lineups

Utah Jazz (29-16): Mike Conley, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, Rudy Gobert

Detroit Pistons (11-33): Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Day

Should the Pistons move Kelly Olynyk to the starting lineup and possibly risk winning a few more games or keep things how they are?