What: Detroit Pistons vs. Houston Rockets
Where: Toyota Center Houston, TX
The Detroit Pistons are fighting for their playoff lives following a four-game losing skid that has put them 3.5 games back of the 8 seed Charlotte Hornets. The Pistons now travel to Houston to take on MVP candidate James Harden, former Piston Josh Smith, and the rest of the Rockets Friday night. The Pistons beat the Rockets back in January at the Palace and will be looking for the season sweep. Here’s how they get it done tonight:
1.) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stepped up an scored 28 points in the win back in January and he played Harden pretty well. This is the type of game where Caldwell-Pope excels. When he’s opposite an elite opponent, he tends to turn it up defensively, and offensively he tends to knock down his open looks. Look for KCP to be a big factor in tonight’s game and his play will probably determine whether the Pistons can get a win in this one.
2.) With Houston still missing Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe will have to dominate their match ups with Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones. Drummond had 11 and 16 boards in the January 31st win and Monroe had 19 and 12. If they can do that again, it’ll go a long way in getting the Pistons a much needed W. Drummond and Monroe are better than Motiejunas and Jones and with no Howard in there, they should take advantage of that fact.
3.) Reggie Jackson has struggled shooting so far in Detroit. He’s hitting just 35.3% from the field and with no Howard in the game, I would look for him to try and drive to the hoop more than just take a bunch of contested, off-balanced jump shots. Jackson is the new man to drive Stan Van Gundy’s offense and he has to get it together if the Pistons want to have a chance. He’ll have a tough time against Houston defensive demon Patrick Beverly, but Jackson is quick enough and aggressive enough to make an impact and to get to the rim. If Jackson can get to the rim and give the Rockets some problems, if just gives the Pistons a better chance at winning.
Predilection: Always gotta go with the hometown team. Pistons win this one 97-94. A close one.