Tonight the Pistons (33-34) play host to the Utah Jazz (42-25). The game is a 7:30 EST tip off.
Jazz: Hill, Hood, Hayward, Diaw, Gobert
Pistons: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Harris, Morris, Drummond
The Jazz have quietly become one of the better teams in the western conference. They are currently the fourth seed and lead the northwest division over the Thunder. Utah is led by star forward Gordon Hayward who leads the team in points (22.0) and assists (3.5) per game. For a team that averages less that 101 points per game that makes up a big percent of Utah’s overall scoring. Point guard George Hill is also a big time scorer for the Jazz, averaging 17.4 points per game. Stopping these two will be the Pistons primary focus on defense.
What really makes the Jazz a great team is their defense. They are only allowing 96.6 points per game which is about six points less than the Pistons allow. Utah has strong defenders all over the floor, but their foundation is center Rudy Gobert. He is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker, so points in the paint and second chance looks will be hard to come by tonight for Detroit. This allows perimeter defenders like Hayward to play aggressively on the wing without fear of being burned.
The Pistons are coming off a forgettable loss in Cleveland last night and are looking to bounce back. This is always difficult on the second game of a back to back, especially when the team has to travel. Starting fast and finishing strong will be key for the Pistons to get a win over a very good team in this one. Unfortunately the Pistons have been getting of to terrible starts lately. Even last night when the team was able to score early (which was a nice change) they completely broke down defensively and allowed over 40 points in the first quarter. Detroint nustvplay better early in the game if they’re going to beat good teams.
Key match up
There are actually good match ups all over the floor in this one. Jackson vs Hill will be fun to watch, as will Drummond can Gobert. However l, the most important battle will be between Tobias Harris and Gordon Hayward. Each lead their team in scoring and set teammates up for success. I give the edge to Hayward in this match up because he’s a stronger defensive player and I expect him to make life difficult for Harris tonight. He’s a good enough scorer to beat good defense and that’s exactly what Harris will have to do if the Pistons are going to get the win tonight.
There are no significant injuries for either team.
Featured image: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports