Game Preview: Detroit Pistons host the Minnesota Timberwolves

Nov 20, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) reacts after driving into Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) in the fourth quarter at Target Center. The Pistons win 96-86. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) reacts after driving into Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) in the fourth quarter at Target Center. The Pistons win 96-86. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Detroit Pistons (22-27) look to build on Wednesday night’s win against the Pelicans as they host the Minnesota Timberwolves (19-30) Friday night.

Forty-nine games into the season, the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves are both searching for answers to their disappointing starts to the season.

The young Timberwolves were picked by many at the beginning of the season to make a significant jump and potentially contend for one of the last spots in the Western Conference playoffs. The reasons for optimism were obvious – Karl-Anthony Towns was coming off a Rookie of the Year campaign, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine had shown flashes of brilliance due to their athleticism, and the front office added much-needed depth in the summer.

The Timberwolves’ talent has yet to catch up to their talent, however. More than halfway through the season, the Timberwolves find themselves eleven games under .500 and 2.5 games out of the playoffs (with four teams in front of them).

Must read: The Pistons have a costly pace problem

The Pistons have been similarly disappointing – but have a much easier path to a playoff berth, sitting at ninth in the East currently (and only a half-game behind the Hornets). For the Pistons, though, the reasons for their shortcomings are much more a result of inconsistency than youth.

The Pistons began the season with Reggie Jackson sidelined due to knee tendinitis. Shortly after Jackson came back, starters Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jon Leuer each went down with injuries of their own.  Finally, the Pistons are healthy for the first time all year, as they look to make a strong playoff push similar to what they did at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Tonight, the Pistons look to sweep the season series against the young Timberwolves for the second straight year.

Back on December 9th, the Pistons dominated the Timberwolves in Minnesota, winning every single quarter on the way to a 117-90 win.

The Pistons won back in December largely on the strength of Andre Drummond and outstanding three-point shooting. Drummond tallied 22 points and 22 rebounds.  Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, and Marcus Morris added 56  points on 10-for-18 shooting from three-point land.  It was, in many ways, exactly what Stan Van Gundy envisioned when he put his team together: a strong interior presence surrounded by good shooting.

Must read: Determining Andre Drummond’s role

Since that easy win in December, the Pistons have struggled mightily from behind the arc, shooting just 33.1% on three-point attempts in 24 games. The Pistons have had more success at home (36% on three-point attempts) since that Timberwolves win, however.  They will look to summon both that home success and their recent success against the Timberwolves in a game where they have the opportunity, at least temporarily, to bring themselves into a tie for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.