Pistons and Rockets tilt

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (23-35) at Houston Rockets (39-19)
  • Date: March 1, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons will be on the road tonight to take on what might be a Houston Rockets team flying under the radar.

The Rockets are currently seeded fifth in the Western Conference standings, and it would appear that not much is expected from them in terms of big picture. On a recent episode of the Dan LeBatard show, Steve Kerr offered the opinion that Houston simply did not have what it takes to win the title this year.

Those aren’t necessarily harsh words given that the list of teams with a legitimate shot at capturing the Larry O’Brien trophy is fairly small. It’s worth noting that the TNT analyst also mentioned he felt Houston could potentially get to the Western Conference finals.

That is still an accomplishment in itself, and it says a lot about the type of team Houston has. Kevin McHale’s group is just about five games out of the top spot in west, and within striking distance of getting home court advantage in the first-two rounds of the playoffs.

The Rockets were defeated in their most recent contest by the Los Angeles Clippers, but still won eight of 10 games in February. Their success last month was due to the stellar play of James Harden and Dwight Howard.

Harden averaged 27.9 points and 5.3 assists per game in February on 47.7 percent field-goal shooting. An argument could be made that Howard has actually been better. He is on pace to play the second-least amount of minutes per game of his career, and yet, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year has been a handful.

Last month, Howard produced 22.8 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game on a sizzling 65.5 percent shooting from the floor. What’s more, he posted a plus-minus rating of plus-16.

As the Pistons can attest, Howard is a terror on the interior. When Detroit hosted Houston in December, the former Orlando Magic player dropped 35 points and 19 rebounds at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Howard was simply unstoppable in the low-post area where he tortured the Pistons’ frontline. Have a look at exhibit A:

He added a few more damaging moves. Have a look:

It’s worth noting that Houston struggled through the early portion of the season to find ways to get the ball to Howard on the move. Whether in the pick-and-roll or through lobs, Rockets players simply could not complete pinpoint passes to the big man, and it resulted in turnovers.

Houston has since improved on this front and is a bit more judicious when attempting to deliver the ball to the center. Thus, the Rockets might play things a little different tonight against Detroit.

Still, in the event their offense gets a bit out of sync, they will have the threat of the post-up to throw at Detroit.

Read about the Rockets

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Tags: Houston Rockets THN-HOU