Anthony Davis has never witnessed his team lose to the Detroit Pistons, and in his most recent meeting, he was a maestro: 39 points, 13 rebounds, 8 blocks and 3 steals. Since AD's arrival in New Orleans, the franchise is a perfect 6-0 against the team from Motown. The last organizational loss came back during the strike-shortened season, an 89-87 defeat in the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Despite the good fortune, the Pistons are a vastly different team this season -- they're on pace to notch more wins than losses since the 2007-08 campaign. Although Stan Van Gundy took over last season, he wasn't able to make enough headway due to the roster he was handed from the Joe Dumars' era, specifically needing to find minutes for the combination of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith. Two of the three players have left and SVG's system is shining again, similar to the product he guided during his days as head coach of the Orlando Magic.
The Pelicans will be without Eric Gordon, but Jrue Holiday will finally re-join the starting lineup. I've been clamoring for more minutes for the Davis-Evans-Holiday trio since discovering it's a pot of gold. For whatever reason, Alvin Gentry hasn't cared to give this 3-man lineup more than a combined 150 minutes this season. Seriously, this oversight deserves an appropriate WTF!
Anyways, what's done is done. Gentry now needs to concern himself with rotations and specifically the 2nd unit. Norris Cole has been a dumpster fire in 2015-16, so the thought of handing him the keys to dominate the ball for about 12 minutes a game is positively terrifying. Somehow, the coaching staff has to get through to him to run the offense and not settle for too many long two's.
Keys to Victory
- Surrender FTA's, not FGA's to Andre Drummond. Against the Houston Rockets Wednesday night, Drummond tallied 36 free throw attempts; however, a significant number of them were taken right out of halftime. Bernie Bickerstaff ordered K.J. McDaniels to commit 5 fouls, all within the first ten seconds of the third quarter to put the Pistons in the bonus. In the first 3 minutes, Drummond had 16 FTA's but connected on just 5. Houston went on a 17-5 run to turn a 9-point deficit into a 3-point lead. SVG removed him from the game, but the Pistons wound up beating the Rockets. Regardless, the Pelicans need to remember to foul Drummond when necessary. More times than not, they'll notch another possession without a change in the score.
- Control the glass. The Pistons are the best offensive rebounding team in the league, but I'm going to be focused on the defensive glass. Rockets are 4-13 when they collect less defensive rebounds; the Pelicans are 3-22 when they do the same. Expect Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca to see plenty of minutes battling (and fouling) Drummond, but it'll be vital they also attempt to dominate the defensive glass.
- Limit Reggie Jackson. Before Wednesday's slate of games, the Pistons had lost 12 of 17 games in which Jackson scored 18 points or less. There is no question Alvin Gentry needs to have Jrue Holiday hound him for as long as possible.