The Jazz (19-20) face the Detroit Pistons (17-19) tonight in Detroit. Last night, after overcoming a slow start, the Jazz smashed the Cavaliers behind 69 points in the second half, cruising to 26 point win, with 8 players scoring in double digits and no one playing over 32 minutes (and only Rudy/Donovan playing more than 27). Up until yesterday, the Jazz have only won one single game after trailing at halftime (vs Grizzlies, 11/12). In both cases, the Jazz were only down one point at the half - not a good look for long-term consistency. The Jazz were down by 9 points pretty consistently through the second quarter, though Donovan Mitchell‘s good play brought the score close. Breaking this barrier and being able to come back from deficits is something that the Jazz will need to do if they are going to make a second-half push.
Detroit, on the other hand, is a very strange team. Outside of their very studded Griffin-Drummond frontcourt, Detroit lacks talent at the wing and overall depth. In the seventeen games they’ve placed since the beginning of December, they’ve lost to the Hawks, Magic, Hornets (twice), Bucks (twice, by a total of 46 points), Thunder (by 27) and Pacers (by 37). Yet this team’s five wins over the period are over the Grizzlies, Wizards, Timberwolves, Celtics, and Warriors. Suffice it to say that this is a weird team - and yet, because of the East, they’re still in the 8th seed.
When: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 • 5:00 PM MT
Where: Little Caesars Arena • Detroit, MI
TV: AT&T Sports Net-Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Detroit
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone, 97.1 FM The Ticket
Grayson Allen – Ankle – OUT
Ish Smith – Right Groin – OUT
Henry Ellenson – Left Ankle – OUT
Zaza Pachulia – Leg – OUT
What to watch for
The Pistons’ Power Forward Situation
Zaza is out, so they have three people who can play center: Drummond, Leuer, and Griffin. But Leuer and Griffin are normally power forwards, and third-stringer Ellenson is out as well. Stanley Johnson (6’7”) has spent time as a backup power forward, and will look to play several minutes there tonight. As a whole, the Pistons’ shallow bench is why Blake Griffin is in the top ten minutes played per game at 35.8. In spite of the losses, Griffin is still putting up great stat lines, averaging 25p/9r/5a per game, so the Jazz need to tire or foul him out as early as possible to take advantage of the Pistons’ thin bench.
Three Point Shooting
Both teams seem to live and die a bit by the three - the Pistons shoot 29.5% in losses and 36.2% in wins (32.8% overall); the Jazz have a worse differential at 29.7% and 39.4% respectively (34.3% overall). Of note is that the Pistons seem to do a good job of defending the perimeter, allowing 31.7% 3PT to opponents, while the Jazz allow a devastating 36.0% (Stats from BBRef). As the infamous Gregg Popovich stated earlier this season:
Now you look at a stat sheet after a game and the first thing you look at is the threes. If you made threes and the other team didn’t, you win.
Here’s hoping that the Jazz can make their shots and keep up the defense against the Pistons tonight. With that said:
Knock on wood.