After a tough loss to Phoenix on Monday night, the Dallas Mavericks will venture to get back into the win column tonight against the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons come to town fourth in the Eastern Conference, sitting four games over .500 with a record of 17–13. 1 They come to the American Airlines Center winners of their last three, two of which occurred on the road against Atlanta and Indiana. Detroit has had somewhat of an up-and-down season that is primarily defined by streaks. Prior to their current three-game win streak, the Pistons were losers of 7 straight. They picked up their first win of December in Atlanta on December 14th. Before the 105–91 victory in Atlanta, the Pistons last win came on November 29th against the Mavs most recent foe, the Phoenix Suns 131–107.
The Pistons are winners of two straight road games and are 8–8 on the road this season. Of the sixteen road games so far this season, the Pistons are 4–2 against Western Conference teams away from Little Caesars Arena. Detroit has won three consecutive games on the road against the Mavericks and went 2–0 against Dallas last season.
Let’s run through three things to watch for before the Mavericks and Pistons tip off at 7:30 p.m. CST tonight.
Both teams enter Wednesday nights contest with notable players currently on the injury report. The Pistons starting shooting guard and former Texas Longhorn, Avery Bradley, will miss tonight’s game with a right groin strain. The Mavericks prized rookie point guard, Dennis Smith. Jr. is “optimistically” questionable with a left hip strain. Both players are very impactful pieces to their respective teams.
The Mavericks are currently 1–7 when playing without Dennis Smith, Jr. Smith has missed his last six games due to that left hip strain injury. If the young rookie is unable to suit up tonight — look for Yogi Ferrell to continue to start in his place.
With Bradley out, the Pistons have turned to their rookie guard from Duke, Luke Kennard. Kennard is currently averaging 6.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.6 steals in 16.5 minutes per game. Kennard posted career highs in both points (14) and minutes (28) back in early November against the Miami Heat. The 6’5 200-pound rookie shooting guard can space to the floor and plays fundamentally sound basketball. Kennard will start, but it would be surprising to see him play more than 20 minutes. Langston Galloway should see somewhere between 20–25 minutes at the shooting guard position. He is shooting 39.6 percent from long range on four attempts per game.
Corralling Andre Drummond
The Mavericks will have their hands full against Detroit’s 6’11 280 pound center Andre Drummond. Drummond is averaging 13.9 points, 14.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 32.9 minutes per game. Drummond had relatively quiet games for his standards against the Mavericks last season averaging just 6 points and 14 rebounds in the two wins against Dallas.
Tonight’s matchup against Drummond will be an intriguing one for the Mavericks. It’ll be fascinating to see how Rick Carlisle and the Mavs staff decide to defend the bruising big man. It’s crucial that the Mavericks gang rebound tonight. The Pistons run a ton of 1–5 pick-and-rolls. Will the Mavericks risk starting Dirk on Drummond and have him run through a ringer of pick-and-rolls early and often throughout tonight’s game? This matchup is one to watch for tonight. Expect Salah Mejri to get a shot at defending Drummond.
Defending the 3 Point Line
The Mavericks rank 12th in the NBA in opponents 3-point field goal percentage allowing their opponents to shoot 36.1 percent. The Pistons enter the game 5th in the NBA at 38.3 percent from behind the arc. During Sunday’s 114–110 win over Orlando, Detroit tied a franchise high with 17 made three-pointers. The Pistons had five players attempt 5 or more three-pointers. Tobias Harris was 3 of 5 from a distance and is shooting 44 percent on the season which ranks 13th in the NBA.
The Pistons have seen some reassuring advances from behind the three-point this season compared to last. Last season 24 percent of their shots were three-pointers, and they made 34 percent of those shots. This season, they’ve turned long two-point attempts into three-pointers — attempting 31 percent of their shots from behind the 3-point line making 38 percent of those shots. These kinds of adjustments in a team shot profile go a long way in shaping a better overall product out on the court.
Dennis Smith Jr.’s availability along with minimizing production from Drummond and defending the three-point line will go a long way in determining if the Mavericks come up victorious against Detroit. Tonight’s game tips off at 7:30 p.m. CST and can be seen locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
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