Lost in the sauce of a uniquely terrible game against the Houston Rockets was the inordinately poor performance from rookie Jalen Duren. Despite being the youngest player in the NBA, Duren has really shown himself to be a reliable and productive big man, and with loads of still-untapped potential to boot. His steady presence made his inexplicable no-show against an undermanned, undersized Rockets team even more surprising. He played 24 minutes and collected just five rebounds. It was the first time since Nov. 27 that Duren managed to play more than 20 minutes and not collect at least six rebounds. He was totally out-of-sorts with the Rockets’ five-out offense that relied on Houston’s big men to either bomb away from deep or catch and attack the rim.
Dallas does usually have Christian Wood to contend with, but he is out of action tonight. More good news for Duren is that Dallas plays at one of the league’s slowest paces and is among the league-leaders in fewest passes per game. Chaos ball this is not.
That is because the rely on methodical and usually deadly superstar Luka Doncic, who is planning to give it a go tonight despite being listed as questionable with an ankle sprain. Historically, a questionable star + getting to play the lowly Pistons = a night off, but in a season where everyone can score 50 points in the blink of an eye, I worry what Luka shall bring. But we shall see. Even if Luka has an off night, perhaps that sets the stage for a Spencer Dinwiddie revenge game or a “trade Bojan for us” performance from Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Green and/or Jaden Hardy.
Also, lest we forget, the previous matchup against the Mavericks featured the game of Killian Hayes’ life, including 22 points, eight assists and a dagger pair of threes in overtime. It’d be nice to see Hayes explode again in his new backup role.
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +8.5
Dallas Mavericks (26-25)
Spencer Dinwiddie, Josh Green, Tim Hardaway Jr, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell
Detroit Pistons (13-38)
Jaden Ivey, Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, Jalen Duren