Game Preview: Pistons Return Home to Host the Magic

After a four game road trip the Detroit Pistons (11-10) return home to play host to the Orlando Magic (8-12). The game has an early start time of 6:00 est for the Sunday game.

The Pistons have won four of their last five games, including three of their most recent four game road trip. All of these wins came against playoff hopeful teams in the Clippers, Hornets, Celtics, and Hawks and three of the wins were by more than double digits. With that in mind, I believe it’s safe to say that the Pistons are really starting to click at this point in the season.Even better news for Pistons fans, they’re expected to get Reggie Jackson back tonight.

Jackson has missed the entire season so far with a knee injury. His nearly 19 points per game and more than six assists per game have been noticeably absent, although his back ups have done a decent job stepping up on most nights. However, RJax is the man who makes this offense go and their is no replacing what he brings to the team. It is unclear if Jackson will start or how many minutes he will get, but I would imagine that coach Van Gundy will want to ease him back into game action.

Even if Jackson only plays 15-20 minutes tonight, the rest of the starters have been playing so well lately that their isn’t any pressure on him to make a major impact in his return. Over the last few games, guys like Caldwell-Pope, Harris and Drummond have been leading a very balanced scoring attack from the Detroit starting unit that we just weren’t seeing on a consistent basis to start the year. It seems like this young core, all of whom are 24 years old or younger, are really starting to jell together. With the return of the teams primary facilitator, it’s fair to expect that this group will continue to improve as Jackson returns to form.

For tonight you can expect the same starting five we’ve seen all year with the exception that Jackson may get the starting nod over Ish Smith. The Pistons lineup will be PG: Smith or Jackson SG: Caldwell-Pope SF: Harris PF: Morris C: Drummond.

On the other side of things you can expect the Magic lineup to be: PG – Payton. SG – Fournier. SF – Gordon. PF – Ibaka. C – Vucevic.

The Magic come in having won only two of their last five, but one of those wins came in San Antonio. The strength of the Magic come in the form of their defense. They rank 3rd in points allowed at 97.3 per game and rank 6th in rebounds per game at 45 per game. Offensively they are lead by Evan Fournier who averages 17.8 points per game. He is the perimeter threat the Magic depend of to open things up in the paint for Ibaka, Payton and Vucevic.  Orlando is a gritty team, just like the Pacers were under head coach Frank Vogel when he was in Indiana. Expect them to come out and play a physical brand of ball tonight.

Other news and notes:

Several guys on the team have a history with the Magic. Stan Van Gundy was their head coach when Dwight Howard and company went to the NBA finals under Van Gundy’s leadership. Tobias Harris also has deep roots in Orlando after spending he last 3.5 yards with the Magic before the Pistons traded for him last season. It was there that he blossomed into an All-Star caliber player, jumping from 5.0 ppg in two yeaRs with the Bucks to 17.3 ppg in his first year in Orlando. Ish Smith also spent some time with the Magic.

Injury report:

There is no major injury news to report for this game. The Magic come in with a healthy roster and should have no injury restrictions. The Pistons still have Reggie Bullock out and he will continue to be on the injury report for the next several months. The only real news of significance is that Reggie Jackson will make his season debut tonight and is finally healthy enough to play.