The Detroit Pistons (21-17) snapped their two game losing streak this past Saturday versus the Houston Rockets, and are looking to carry momentum from their latest victory into a three game road stretch this week. The Pistons are looking to alleviate their road woes against the New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.
On the season the Pistons are 8-12 away from Little Caesars Arena, including four straight road losses. Needless to say, the Pistons would love to get back on track away from home, and have a good opportunity against three teams that .500 or worse.
The toughest of the three games should be the first, when they take on the Pelicans (19-19) on Monday night. The dynamic big man combo of Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins will provide a tough test for the frontcourt of the Pistons, especially if Andre Drummond misses another game thanks to a rib contusion.
Besides limiting the two All-Star caliber bigs, the Pistons will have to shoot the ball well from deep. Look for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley and Reggie Bullock to do the heavy lifting from behind the arc.
Fans have seen efficient shooting from Bradley and Harris all year long, but since Bullock has came back from injury he has shot 41.9 percent from three point land, and 13.5 points per game in his last 10 games. It has been a very helpful boost, especially since Reggie Jackson’s injury.
After their visit to the bayou, the Pistons will head to Brooklyn on Wednesday. The Nets (15-24) are a team that has been plagued by injuries, and yet they have still been able to remain respectable by treading water without major contributors. A lot of that is thanks to former Piston Spencer Dinwiddie, who has taken over the starting point guard role with D’Angelo Russell injured.
Dinwiddie is averaging 13 points and 6.4 assists, and has shown the ability to hit big shots in clutch moments. His most recent crunch time heroics came against the Minnesota Timberwolves last Wednesday, when he hit a mid-range fadeaway jumper just before time expired.
Hopefully the Pistons will have Drummond back by Wednesday, and if they do, he should dominate the likes of Tyler Zeller, Jahlil Okafor and Jarrett Allen. The second unit should get plenty of run, and I would love to see Luke Kennard and G-League call-up Dwight Buycks get some playmaking opportunities against an inferior opponent.
The final game of the week for the Pistons is Saturday against the Bulls (14-26), who have currently lost four of their last five games. Nikola Mirotic has played well since returning from his jaw injury. In 17 games he has averaged 17.4 points per game, and his ability to stretch the floor tests defenses.
Mirotic, along with rookie Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis can all shoot the ball respectably from deep, and it will be very important that the Pistons push them off the three point line.
This should be another game where the Pistons backcourt can outplay their opponent. Ish Smith is a heedy veteran that should be able to find his own ways to score while setting up others. His ability to push the pace should help guys like Harris, Bradley and Bullock easy buckets.
With the Pistons sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, a game out of the fourth seed, winnable road games always matter. Even the games in January effect the playoff picture by the end of the season.