In the wake of a successful January, that accounted for 7 of 12-total Detroit wins, the visiting Pistons have yet to register a W in the month of February. On the other hand, the Dallas Mavericks have been one of the NBA’s hottest teams since the start of the new year.
Tonight’s matchup marks Detroit’s final game before the NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline on Thursday. While trade talks seemed to have quieted, it is more than likely the Detroit front office will shake the roster up with a move or two.
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +
The hiring of Jason Kidd in the offseason sparked plenty of conversation, mainly negative, around the potential performance of this seasons Dallas Mavericks. Prior to his hiring as Head Coach of the Mavericks, Kidd’s last go round as the ‘top-guy’ ended on a sour note with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018. Since his departure, there have been a slew of stories pertaining to Kidd’s lack of ability to ‘play call’, as well as his abrasive form of communication with players.
With Kidd at the helm, the Mavericks stumbled to a 15-17 record capped off with a 116-120 Christmas Day loss to the Utah Jazz. The high paced, free flowing offense of past seasons had been replaced with Porzingis post ups and mid-range jumpers. To make matter worse, Star-guard Luka Doncic returned to the team not in peak condition and was in and out of the line-up with an ankle injury.
However, since Boxing Day, Dallas have been one of the hottest teams in the association, rattling off 16 wins in 22 games, good enough for the league’s fourth best winning percentage during this span. The Mavericks have turned their fortunes on the back of elite defense, posting a defensive rating of 104.7 (2nd in the league) in the past 6 weeks.
Dallas’ surge up the standings has coincided with franchise centrepiece Luka Doncic ramping up his play. After a summer spent representing his country at the Tokyo Olympics, Doncic started the season slowly (by his lofty standards). Since returning from health and safety protocols, the Slovenian superstar has averaged a triple double, putting up a ridiculous 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, leading the Mavs to a 13-5 since his return on the 2nd of January.
Doncic is partnered with sturdy combo guard, Jalen Brunson in the Mavericks back-court. Brunson is having his best season as a pro, putting up 21 points and 7 assists across a 10-game stretch while Doncic was out with COVID-19. Brunson has been one of the many names mentioned in potential Jerami Grant trade packages. However, it seems the former Villanova product is more likely to be targeted during restricted free agency this offseason.
For Detroit, there is yet to be an offical update on the availability of Cade Cunningham. On this weeks episode of the Detroit Bad Boys Flagship podcast, James Edwards III cited a potential return against the Mavericks, as Cunningham originally hales from Arlington, Texas. It’s expected a large amount of Cunningham’s family and friends will be in attendance for his matchup against his childhood team.
Killian Hayes is a player to keep your eye on tonight, in 8 games as a reserve, the former lottery pick is playing with a new found aggression with his playmaking and drivers into the paint:
In his past 2 games, Killian has converted 5 FGM, something he hadn't achieved prior to last Friday.— Jack Kelly (@jack_kelly_313) February 7, 2022
Since being moved to the bench, Killian has focused on penetrating the paint and looking to finish at the rim.
per @cleantheglass, he's finishing 65% at the rim as a reserve: pic.twitter.com/vZt8rffS6a
Hayes is having by far his most efficient and consistent stretch of the season, posting averages of 7 points and 6 assists in 24 minutes of action.
Detroit Pistons (12-41)
Cade Cunningham, Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart
Dallas Mavericks (31-23)
Jalen Brunson, Luka Doncic. Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell
Question of the Game
With tonights game been the last before the trade deadline, if Jerami Grant is traded, what is your favourite memory of Grant as a Piston?
To get the ball rolling, I’ve always enjoyed Grant’s weakside swats: