The Detroit Pistons always seem to make games interesting with the Atlanta Hawks. Last time around in December, Will Bynum and the Detroit bench made a comeback in the fourth quarter and fought hard for two overtimes before losing 126-119. The Piston bench had 85 points in that game, the most by a team since 1999.
Despite their 0-8 start to the season, the Pistons have gone 12-14 since Mid-November, and in the Eastern Conference, that pace may have Detroit sneaking into the playoffs. They are only 3 ½ games back currently, but could use a midseason trade to get over the hump, as the Pistons do not perform particularly well in any category. Even for such a big team, with Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell, they are not even in the top ten in rebound rate.
Make no mistake, their offense certainly runs through the bigs. Drummond has not looked like a rookie in limited minutes, with 7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in under 20 minutes a game. Villanueva has been resurgent with a sparkling .573 TS% and .565 eFG% after missing a few games in the beginning of the season, though his defense remains absent. Maxiell has struggled this season, but seemingly steps up his game against the Hawks.
The trio that has played the most minutes, however, is Tayshaun Prince, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight. They also happen to be the three highest scorers on a per game basis. Despite his long tenure in the league, Prince still has enough quickness and length to score in the post and can spot up and knock down threes in the corner. Monroe has blossomed into a classic 90s NBA low post player, with the ability to use both hands on his quick hook and is also an accomplish passer out of the post. Knight has become a strong outside shooter (.414 3P%) but his shooting percentage on two point shots is lower that his 3P% and has struggled with being a pure point guard (1.48:1 assist to turnover ratio).
All in all, the Pistons have a few valuable pieces, such as Kyle Singler returning from an overseas stint, and Will Bynum, who dropped 31 points in the overtime game, that can bite the Hawks if proper attention is not paid. Having two days off to prepare should benefit the Hawks, especially since an area where Atlanta struggles, pick and roll defense, is also an area the Detroit also struggles to run on offense. Stevenson may be held out of today’s game so he can play big minutes tomorrow against the Celtics and Harris and Morrow are still out, so look for John Jenkins to step in for time to heat up. The Hawks should have an athletic advantage at all positions, so remaining disciplined and communicating defensive rotations will be the key to winning the game.
Tip off is just after 7:30 and can be seen locally on Fox SportSouth.