The Detroit Pistons are 25-44 this season overall, they are 10-23 on the road, are 2-8 in their last 10 games, and have lost 5 in a row. Tonight they will play their fourth, and final, game of this road trip. (Tonight will be the third in four, and four in six.) To complicate things they'll be playing the Utah Jazz. Historically the Jazz are 55-32 against the Pistons, and have a 33-10 record in Utah. It's domination. And it doesn't look like it's going to ablate anytime soon because we have Trey Burke -- and they do not.
Sure, Detroit has a very competitive team on paper with Josh Smith (16.5 / 7.1 / 3.3 / 1.4 / 1.5), Brandon Jennings (16.0 / 3.1 / 7.7 / 1.4), Greg Monroe (14.9 / 9.2 / 2.1 / 1.1 / 0.6), and Andre Drummond (13.2 / 12.8 / 0.4 / 1.3 / 1.8). Those are legit, and there are complimentary pieces there that you have to deal with too: Kyle Singler (9.3 / 3.8), Rodney Stuckey (13.4 / 2.3 / 2.0 / 0.8), and Will Bynum (9.0 / 1.8 / 3.9 -- who beat us by himself once). Players aside, there haven't been a lot of wins. Really. They have 2 more wins than we do. Their team is lesser than the sum of their parts.
And as we figured out today on twitter, that's a good baseline to see if the team has good strategy or is a good team, or whatnot. This season this Joe Dumars club is definitely not a good team.
They are middle of the road everywhere on offense and defense, and play at a Top 10 pace. They lead the league in offensive rebounding percentage (re-collecting 30.7% of their misses), and very rarely turn the ball over on offense. They're not that good from outside, they are 29th in %. They also get to the line. So, basically they are our team from three seasons ago. On defense they cause a lot of turn overs, and don't foul a heck of a lot. Also, blocks. Blocks on blocks on blocks.
But even though they have positive things to look at, they are paying way too much for the on court results. They've been without Chauncey Billups and Josh Harrellson for most of the season. And even new assistant coach Rasheed Wallace can't fix everything.
Fans aren't happy. And it kind of starts with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It's insane to blame a rookie who is having an okay season, but in Detroit that's the most reasonable place to start. (Complaining about Joe D, the coaches, the vets and so forth already fall on deaf ears.) Why are they upset about KCP? Basically they're upset because he's not Trey Burke.
Trey Burke isn't leading a world beater -- our team has 2 fewer wins, play worse on offense and defense. Play slower. Also don't kill it from deep. And also kind of rely on offensive rebounds. The Jazz are a bad team. But right now they look like they have a brighter future. And that's a big deal.
For me, much of that future relies on what Trey Burke does. He's a real PG who has a serious resume as a ball player. And he's a national name who played in big games. Sure, the Jazz don't have the names that the Pistons do, but they do have Burke. And Burke will only get better. We can't say the same anymore for Josh Smith or Brandon Jennings.
Tonight the Jazz will be without Alec Burks and Andris Biedrins. So, AB^2 being out makes us have to rely on Burke, Gordon Hayward, and Derrick Favors more. It will be an interesting match-up for each of them. Favors will have to tangle with Drummond, Monroe, and Smith at times during this game. Hayward will have to bring it and have the advantage against Singler, Stuckey, and others. Why? Because I think we see Brandon Jennings come out with a statement. Trey went 20/10 in Detroit, and won the game with ease.
Jennings is a pro and doesn't want to get shown up again.
In a few hours we'll find out who wants this game more. For the Jazz, we shouldn't. The Pistons probably have their bags on the team plane already though. So it maybe doesn't matter what we want. Utah will win tonight.
That's what the data tells me. That's what history shows. And that's what the schedule tells me as well.
So I hope all three of them are wrong tonight.