Monday night features another contest between two teams bound for the lottery who cannot wait for the season to end. However, both teams have picked their play up over the last week with Philadelphia earning victories over Washington and Cleveland after a dreadful three-game losing streak, and the Pistons entering play with a three-game winning streak themselves. The teams split their earlier two meetings this season, with both games taking place in Philadelphia. Greg Monroe has been a force down low for Detroit in those contests, averaging 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds against the Sixers. Philadelphia countered with strong backcourt play, as Jrue Holiday averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 assists in those two meetings.
With trade deadline acquisition Jose Calderon missing in action with a strained right triceps, the Pistons have reverted to a Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey backcourt. Despite the loss of Calderon, the Pistons have received a shot in the arm from the return from injury by promising rookie Andre Drummond eight games ago. Drummond has averaged 11.6 points (on 67.8% shooting) and 8.9 rebounds since re-joining the team on the court. He is the type of athletic shot-blocker and rebounder that the Sixers could sorely use.
Keys to the Game:
- Pressure the ball. Detroit has the 5th-highest turnover rate in the league, an area that will only be further weakened by Calderon’s absence. The jury is still out on Brandon Knight’s viability as a true point guard, and his 13.73% turnover rate is well above the league average. Try to force him into live ball turnovers to get some easy points in transition.
- Pack the paint. The injured Calderon is the best three point shooter on the Detroit roster. With head coach Lawrence Frank now starting Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond together in the front court, the Pistons have major spacing issues in the half court. Double down when the ball enters the paint and force Detroit to win the game from the outside.
Despite Philadelphia playing good ball over the last two games, winning on the road on the second game of a back-to-back is a tough task for anyone. Detroit has a formidable front line, which has given Philadelphia difficulties in the past. The Sixers stay in the game but ultimately go down at the hands of the Pistons.