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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans hope to take advantage of plummeting Detroit Pistons

New Orleans faces a Detroit team that has lost 13 of their last 17 games. They should win....right?

Detroit Pistons v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Time to take care of business.

The New Orleans Pelicans suffered a horrendous beat down at the hands of the Boston Celtics on what Nancy Lieberman referred to as a “scheduled loss.” The Pelicans just finished playing their sixth game in eight days.

Now, they face their seventh game in ten days. Luckily for them, it comes at the hands of a Detroit Pistons team that has lost 11 of their last 14 games. During that time, they have posted the worst defensive rating and second worst net rating (-8.6).

They’re bad, and unfortunately for the Pistons, reinforcements are not on their way. Six-time All-Star Blake Griffin recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is likely lost for the season.

Better still, after facing the Celtics minus Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Kenrich Williams, Zion Williamson and Derrick Favors, the Pelicans look primed for a bit of a boost.

If there was one take-away from the Celtics loss, the Pelicans need Favors back in the lineup for the remainder of the season.

Favors has missed 17 games to dreadful result. The Pelicans are 4-13 when he’s been unavailable, and 6-22 overall when he’s appeared in fewer than 23 minutes.

The Pelicans have managed to stay in the hunt for the eighth seed despite all of this, winning eight of their last 12 games. They may ultimately get the chance to face the Lakers in the NBA’s first round if they can catch whoever is occupying that spot. (As of today, it’s the Memphis Grizzlies.)

The dream would be to squeeze into sixth and face off with some version of Denver, Utah or Houston, but that seems highly unlikely — even with the Pelicans’ remaining strength of schedule and eventual return of you-know-who. The Pelicans trail that current placeholder by nine wins with 42 games left to play.

Anyway, we’re off track. The Pistons. The Pelicans should beat them.

Detroit has been horrendous over the past month and they rank in the bottom ten in nearly every category over the course of the season. One strength? Scoring in the paint. They are eighth best in the league at 49 points per game and the Boston Celtics showed us all that without Derrick Favors, making your way to the rim is easier than a late-night drive across the Causeway. Because of this rate of scoring, the Pistons are also eighth in effective field goal percentage.

The good news is that Andre Drummond is closer to a cape-swirling bull fighter than a rim protector, allowing an NBA fifth-worst 51 points per game in the paint as part of the Pistons’ D.

The Pistons do allow just 11 made threes per game, but that has more to do with their pace (22nd) and willingness to give up layups than anything else.

Derrick Rose

Rose has been on fire as of late, averaging over 20 points per game over his last 15 contests on a remarkably efficient 49.6 percent shooting. If Jrue Holiday can return for this contest, he can go a long way toward limiting Rose’s explosiveness both in the mid-range and at the basket.

Markieff Morris and Bruce Brown have averaged a perfectly symmetrical 11.3 points over the past four weeks, though Morris does much of his damage from deep (38.5 percent on 5.9 attempts per game).

And then there’s Christian Wood.

The Pelicans inexplicably released Wood this past summer after a strong finish to the 2018-19 season. Many Pelicans’ fans were hoping to see him return following what had been a pretty depressing season.

Now, he’s been unleashed in Detroit averaging per-36 numbers of 18.5 points and 15.3 rebounds per 36 over his last 15 games. Just Saturday night, the big fella put in 17 and 14 against the Chicago Bulls on 8/12 shooting.

Prepare for a big night from Rose, Wood, and Andre Drummond, who is averaging 17.6 points and 15.8 rebounds per game on the season. 15th overall pick Sekou Doumbouya is suddenly seeing starter-like minutes, but don’t expect for the rookie to move the needle much outside of a highlight or two.

Keys to victory

  • Push the pace
  • Attack the paint
  • Limit D-Rose and Christian Wood

Let’s geaux, Pels!

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (14-26) at Detroit Pistons (14-26)

Where: Little Caesars Arena - Detroit, MI

When: Monday, January 13th, 2019 6:00 PM CST