What: Detroit Pistons vs. Denver Nuggets
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
The Detroit Pistons are coming off a loss in Indiana against the Pacers. In this recent stretch of games since the injury of Brandon Jennings, D.J. Augustin has played pretty damn well, and he’s going to have to continue his strong play for the Pistons to bounce back. Augustin, in the six games he’s taken over for Jennings, is averaging around 20 points and 9 assists, and he’s really taken over the leadership role for the Pistons. Here are the three keys to get a win:
1.) The Nuggets are a team that is in a deep, deep rut. They lost to the 76ers and the Celtics, in consecutive games, and the Pistons need to take advantage of their slump. These are two winnable games coming up for the Pistons; starting with this game against Denver, and then Minnesota on Sunday. If Detroit wants to seriously make a run at the playoffs, it has to start with this game against Denver. The Nuggets got the best of the Pistons last time they played, back on opening night in October, but that’s when a certain someone was still on the team, and that certain someone shot them out of the game. This is a new and improved Pistons squad without that certain someone, and this is a game they should win.
2.) I’ve been harping on this all season long; the Pistons have an obvious size advantage with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and they have got to use it! They can use this advantage as a way to dominate the paint, and they can play the inside-out game to set up shooters like Jodie Meeks, Augustin, Kyle Singler, Anthony Tolliver, and Caron Butler. Drummond went for 14 and 14 against Indiana, and Monroe had a so-so offensive game against the Pacers, so it just has to change for the Pistons to be effective.
3.) Defensively, the key is containing Ty Lawson. Lawson can get into the paint with his quickness, and can be a terror for any team trying to guard him. Augustin is an adequate defender, but it’ll take a team effort to stop Lawson. Guys like Drummond, Monroe, and (when he enters the game) Joel Anthony will have to protect the basket. If Lawson gets going, then that opens opportunities for their perimeter players like Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler, because Lawson will be able to set them up. If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can give it a go tonight, it would seriously help the Pistons in defending the perimeter and the 3-point line.
Prediction: Pistons 113 Nuggets 99