The Pistons have gotten closer and closer to picking up their first win of the 2012-13 season, only to fall in the last minutes of games. They will get another opportunity to put a ‘1’ in the win column tonight against the 76ers; tipoff for that game is at 7 p.m.
Philadelphia is a middle-of-the-pack squad in the suddenly wide-open Atlantic Divison with a 4-3 record, and they’re coming off a 105-96 defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks. Jrue Holiday, the team’s point guard and most-likely franchise player, had a solid scoring game with 25 points, but his decision-making with the ball led to just six assists and eight turnovers. His defense also failed him, as the Bucks’ star Brandon Jennings burned them for 33 points, eight assists, five rebounds, four steals and even two blocks.
For the Pistons to reverse their downward spiral against the 76ers, there are several matchups and statistics that Detroit will have to exploit.
- Rebounding: Philadelphia is 12th in the league in rebounding at 42.9 per game, but only four players are averaging more than six boards a game (Thaddeus Young, Dorell Wright, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes). The Pistons frontcourt, from small forward to center, is longer, more athletic, and more active than this and should be expected to show up. Philadelphia’s starting center for the game tonight is Lavoy allen, a 6’9” forward averaging just 3.1 rebounds in 2012. With Andrew Bynum and Kwame Brown out with injuries, Detroit must command the rebounds on both ends of the floor.
- Defensive guard play: Being the team’s floor leader, Holiday will have the ball in his hands most of the game. He can be dangerous with it (9 assists/game) but he has also shown he is just as likely to make poor decisions (6 turnovers/game). Rodney Stuckey is out with flu-like symptoms, and Kyle Singler will take his starting spot – it’ll be up to him, Brandon Knight and Will Bynum to force the issue with Holiday. No one else besides Holiday and Turner (3.6) is averaging more than three assists a game, so forcing the 76ers’ backcourt into rushed decisions is crucial.
- Precise, calculated offense: The 76ers are averaging nearly nine steals a game (8.86) due to their lanky forwards who can get into passing lanes, but they’re only averaging five blocks a game – the underachieving Hawes leads them with 1.29. If the Pistons can make solid passes and protect the ball at the hoop, they’ll neutralize Philadelphia’s ability to swipe passes and exploit their lack of shot-blocking inside – two essential keys to beating this team.
All in all, this is a game that is very much winnable. Philadelphia hasn’t been overly impressive this season, and they’re coming off back-to-back home losses in which they’ve been outscored by an average of 15.5 points. Their wing players are solid, but with a starting frontcourt of Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young, the Pistons big men – all of them – should have big games tonight.