The Detroit Pistons’ record hasn’t been above .500 since a November 5 loss to the Indiana Pacers, and the first week of December will not present too many opportunities to change that. Detroit faces a tough four-game stretch this week with the first three contests on the road.
The Pistons will start the week with back-to-back games against the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks before ending the weekend with a trip to the United Center to take on the Chicago Bulls and a home rematch against the NBA‘s reigning champs.
The Heat present obvious matchup problems for the Pistons. LeBron James is tough for any team to deal with, but even if he weren’t going to play this week, the Pistons would still have problems defending Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen. The Heat can move the ball and score efficiently – something the Pistons have shown no ability to stop so far this season. Both games could end up being long nights for Pistons fans.
On the flip-side of things, the last time Detroit played Milwaukee the game was a complete blowout from the start. The Bucks are having a disastrous season, notching only three wins entering this week’s play. Brandon Jennings should be motivated to show up his former team again, and Detroit’s returning core knows Brandon Knight well enough to exploit his poor decision making. Furthermore, with Larry Sanders out of their lineup for at least a few more weeks, the Pistons’ bigs should be able to take advantage of Milwaukee’s weak front line. This should be an easy win.
Chicago lost former-MVP Derrick Rose for the season, but they are still a strong team. The Bulls won 45 games without him last year, and an incredibly weak Eastern Conference leaves little reason to believe they can’t do it again this season. Chicago didn’t have Rose in the lineup the last time these two teams met, and the Pistons lost by 20 points on their home floor. Tom Thibodeau is one of the greatest minds in the game, and his players pride themselves on strong defense. With the Pistons’ offensive problems, the Bulls could easily take advantage of their miscues and slowly build a substantial lead on Detroit as the game matures.
That being said, this is a winnable game for Detroit. Without Rose, the Bulls’ roster isn’t vastly superior to theirs. Chicago has more depth, speed and experience, but if the Pistons can get some shots to fall and gain the advantage on the boards, they should be able to put themselves in a position to steal this one. Chances are Maurice Cheeks and his staff won’t out-coach their rivals, but the Pistons have a higher ceiling than a Rose-less Chicago team does. If they play up to the higher end of their potential, the Pistons could squeak out a win on the Bulls’ home court.
The Pistons should come out of this week with at least one more win under their belt, but expecting more than a (2-2) record for the week will be asking for a small miracle. If they can at least keep it close against Miami and pull off victories against Chicago and Milwaukee, the Pistons can claim a productive week of progress. However, if they drop a game against either the Bulls or Bucks it could be a clear indication that things probably won’t be improving in Motown anytime soon.