- Teams: Dallas Mavericks (33-23) at Detroit Pistons (23-32)
- Date: February 22, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
Fresh off a home victory against the Atlanta Hawks, the Detroit Pistons will host the Dallas Mavericks tonight.
Oddly enough, the Pistons are trying to emulate the Mavericks, but have not yet found their exact recipe. Dallas made a few acquisitions in the past offseason to retool and compete for a postseason spot.
The Pistons borrowed the same idea, but their execution was a bit different. Indeed, general manager Joe Dumars signed Josh Smith to a big four-year contract (worth $13.5 million annually) and landed Brandon Jennings with a three-season deal.
Dallas went the same route but offered less money. Mavs management secured Monta Ellis to a three-year deal while Jose Calderon signed for four years per Sham Sports.
The one big difference between the franchises: The Mavericks have a superstar, while the Pistons do not. Dallas brought guys in to play alongside an aging and yet still effective Dirk Nowitzki that seems to have barely lost a step.
Nowitzki is averaging 24.3 points per 36 minutes, and is enjoying the second-best shooting season of his career. The German is converting 49.5 percent of his field goals, 41.7 percent of his treys and a league-leading 91.3 percent from the charity stripe.
Nowitzki’s proficiency form the field allows the Dallas coaching staff to put shooters and ball-handlers around him, and pick teams apart. The Mavericks have the fourth-best offense in the league precisely because they shoot the ball extremely well.
It will be interesting to see how Detroit handles the combination of interior and perimeter punch the Mavs offer given how porous their defense has been in recent years.
On the flip side, the Pistons are still looking for him. The guy that was supposed to put Detroit over the top and turn them into playoff contenders has not yet arrived.
Then, there is Andre Drummond. He is clearly the franchise cornerstone, but Drummond is far too young and raw at this point in his career to carry the team on his back. That leaves newcomers Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.
Both have flashed potential and production on numerous occasions, and yet, their previous teams barely seemed phased by their departures. Put it all together, and we have a team whose best players range from average to good.
Some nights they are great, but most of the time they sit on the fence separating the land of decent and aight. To be fair, a unit comprised of such players can be successful (most recent example is the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets). But it takes the right system and cast of players to accomplish it all.
Dallas is doing just that, albeit with the help of a Hall of Fame forward. The Pistons must simply find their lane, and perhaps tonight will be a step in that direction.