In their last 15 games, the Pistons are 4-11. To make matters worse, a couple of those losses include the Bucks (a couple of nights ago) and the Jazz (without Gordon Hayward). Yet, despite the tailspin, they remain only a game out of 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Pistons start the biggest front court in the NBA with Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. As expected, they're a monster on the offensive glass, leading the league in percentage and total rebounds on that end. But, that's where the positives finish. Their starting unit has an ORtg of 97.8, a 43.8 FG%, a 33.3 3FG% and a 63.3 FT%. In 440 minutes of action, their net rating (ORtg - DRtg) is -6.3.
It's astounding that head coach Maurice Cheeks has stayed with this unit for so long. When the Pistons play a more traditional lineup with Kyle Singler at SF, the team becomes a whole lot better on both ends of the floor. And it doesn't matter much which of their starting bigs sits as all 3 net ratings are well into the positives.
Honestly, if I was a Detroit fan, I'd be outraged. The numbers are that obvious. There are 96 minutes available to keep the Smith-Monroe-Drummond trio happy or for the front office to continue showcasing one of them. Whether it's Cheeks or a directive from Dumars, they are unnecessarily giving a deeply flawed lineup the majority of minutes.
Well, enough about that, as we've got plenty to worry about regarding our own roster. So, what's the best game plan for the Pelicans to notch a win in Detroit and sweep the season series?
- As mentioned, the Pistons are monsters on the offensive glass. Consequently, the old adage applies -- all 5 of our players need to hit the defensive glass. Bigs need to make sure they've got a body on their men and the smalls should look to fill the open parts of the floor.
- Let Josh Smith shoot from anywhere along the perimeter. This was mentioned in our preview last month, but since he still believes he's a threat from outside the rim, dare him to shoot by giving him loads of space.
- Limit the points in the paint. Double the post and force the Pistons to beat you from the perimeter. Hack, slap and foul with all your might if a Piston is staring at an impending dunk or lay-in.