The Detroit Pistons have lost nine straight games. The Utah Jazz did that as well earlier this season. Sometimes injuries take their toll and bad parts of the schedule become impossible. The Jazz won a game against the San Antonio Spurs to stop the bleeding, avoid losing 10 straight, and turned their season around. Can the Pistons expect to do the same? With 17 games left in 2014-15, currently 7.5 games back of the playoffs, Detroit is probably too far gone to salvage this season. (Yes, I just linked to an Acid House track on a Utah sports website.) The Pistons aren't going to the playoffs, and aren't going to be able to lose enough to get a lot of lotto balls -- but there's one thing they can do: they can break their 10 game losing streak.
And in order to do that they need to beat the Utah Jazz, in Utah.
Historically, the Pistons haven't really been able to do that. Yes, in all-time head to head competition the Jazz are up 56-33. But the Delta Center / ESA has been nearly impregnable to Detroit, where the good guys are a dominating 33-11. The last time Utah lost to Detroit in Utah was last season. But before that, the next most recent loss happened waaay back in 2002. In that two point loss the Jazz, due to suspensions, were forced into starting John Amaechi and Jarron Collins inside.
Tonight the Pistons will be facing Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.
That's just a different level of defense.
But before we scout the Jazz, let's look at what the Pistons have done in their last 10 games.
In their last 10 games the Pistons have won only once, and that game was on February 22nd.
N.B. The advanced stat averages are averages of the values, and not pace adjusted calculations. It's Saturday. I'm taking it easy and did want to do a little less math than normal.
Detroit hasn't been shooting that great, but they've made up for some of it by hitting the offensive glass very well. They don't get to the line, which negates that level of hustle though. They have been horrible on the road, losing all of their road games during this span. Perhaps a little worse for them is that tonight's game against Utah is a schedule loss.
It's the second night of a back to back. It's the third game in four nights. It's also the fourth game in five nights. And it's a game where they are flying back East (Pacific time zone to Mountain time zone) after being in that time zone every day since the 10th. They are road weary and this is the last game of a brutal road trip.
Stan Van Gundy even made a starting line-up change during this period benching Caron Butler, promoting Tayshaun Prince, and then just recently benching Tay and starting Caron again. (The other four starters, Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond have remained the same.)
Is it likely that Detroit is broken, or are they going to finish this road trip with a solid win against a team playing well? Only Detroit can truly answer that. Utah isn't any more or less injured than normal. Alec Burks is out. Ian Clark and Grant Jerrett are both in the NBA-DL. Gordon Hayward has a back sprain, but played in the Jazz' last game, on Thursday. Rudy Gobert hurt his ankle last game, but went through shoot-around and is expected to play.
Detroit will be without starting point guard Brandon Jennings, who is out for the season. Shawne Williams is suspended for one game for his head-butt with Joel Freeland last night. Williams isn't in their normative rotation so it's no biggie. As far as stretch bigs go they already have Anthony Tolliver coming off the bench to stretch the defense.
Greg Monroe is a legit back to the basket big who has several post moves that Derrick Favors currently doesn't have. Andre Drummond just had 16 and 17 last night and he's a young, active big who has the upper body strength to cause Rudy Gobert some problems. Reggie Jackson is a take-charge lead guard who is better than both Trey Burke and Dante Exum combined at this stage. While Caron Butler and Tay are on the downsides of their careers, they know a thing or two that Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood still don't know. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a legit shooting guard who can, ostensibly, make shots. Also they have John Lucas III on their roster.
If the Jazz decided that this is already a win before they step out on the court then they could be in for quite a surprise.
Gotta take Detroit seriously, after all -- we know how desperate a team can be to avoid losing 10 straight games. I'd rather build the Pistons up and have our boys cream them rather than overlook them and drop another home game. The Jazz have lost at home this season to the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, (back when they were bad) Indiana Pacers, and others this season. Don't also lose to the Detroit Pistons.
Get up for this game like you get up for the good teams. Because that's what good teams do.