Pistons look to close road trip with a bang

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (9-10) at Chicago Bulls (8-9)
  • Date: December 7, 2013
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons have won three straight games overall and claimed back-to-back victories on the road. They will go into tonight’s matchup with the Chicago Bulls looking to reach the .500 mark with a win.

That would certainly help them climb the ranks of what is a completely putrid Eastern Conference. Indeed, the Pistons have a chance at finishing the season as the third seed in the east.

However, for all of their potential, the Pistons were built in a rather strange fashion that is somewhat reminiscent of the Sacramento Kings. The Kings have a multitude of individual players that are intriguing talents, but that do not necessarily fit alongside each other.

Grantland’s Bill Simmons took it a step further:

As the self-proclaimed Body Language Doctor, I was obviously excited for a moody lefty with poor shot selection who occasionally clashes with his teammates (Smith) to join forces with a moody lefty with poor shot selection who occasionally clashes with his teammates (Brandon Jennings). But it’s been rockier than even the Body Language Doctor expected. Mo Cheeks has that “mom with three young kids who just had too much sugar” look on his face at all times. If you started a 12-man “Which Two Teammates Would Have To Be Separated In The Huddle” fantasy draft, and the entire first round were taken up by “Boogie Cousins vs. (fill in 12 consecutive teammates),” then the first pick of the second round would be either “Josh vs. Jennings” or “Kyrie vs. Dion.”

Although humorous, this is not exactly news for Pistons fans. But it is incredibly relevant tonight heading into the contest against the Bulls. In their first head-to-head matchup of the season, Chicago took Detroit to task.

The Bulls held the Pistons to 44.2 percent shooting from the field at the Palace of Auburn Hills. That figure seems incredibly respectable until we dig in further into the numbers.

The Pistons took an ungodly amount of contested long-range 2-point shots and actually connected on a great amount of them. NBA.com tells us that Mo Cheeks’ unit hit 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) of their mid-range jumpers in their lone contest versus the Bulls.

That figure is simply not sustainable given that those shots were well contested. Detroit relied on running a lot of two-man action on the wings and it resulted in either Brandon Jennings taking a low-percentage shot or one of the big people taking a tough jumper.

Also, when the Pistons interior players got within proximity of the basket, they saw the outstretched arms of Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson. Both players are great defenders and they force misses by contesting shots with great fervor.

The Pistons converted decent amount of shots at the basket and again, they were by their own standards lights out from mid-range. Despite all that, they only scored 79 points against the Bulls.

Further exacerbating issues, Chicago’s offense was quite efficient on that night despite the lack of creativity in their sets. The Bulls simply relied on swinging the ball from one side to the next and using cross screens.

That consistently produced high-percentage shots and resulted in a night where they hit 53.2 percent of their shots. There is no other way around it: Detroit must defend far better tonight at the United Center.

The Pistons’ offense will probably struggle tonight once more unless they manufacture a plethora of turnovers. That will allow Detroit to get out on the break where their athleticism is practically unparalleled. That gives them an opportunity to avoid executing in their half-court offense.

The Bulls probably win this contest if it ends up being a slow grind out game given that Detroit will be launching long contested jumpers again. If the Pistons speed things up though, they have a chance at taking this one and ending the road trip with a bang.

Read about the Bulls

Bulls by the Horns.

Tags: Chicago Bulls THN-CHI

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