Tonight the Pistons (34-37) travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls (33-38). The game is a 8:00 EST tip off.
Detroit: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Harris, Morris, Drummond.
Chicago: Rondo, Butler, Zipser, Mirotic, Lopez.
The Pistons enter this game after a demoralizing buzzer beater loss to the lowly Nets last night. The loss was especially painful because Detroit is currently the ninth seed in the eastern conference playoff picture, so the would miss the playoffs if they started today. The Pistons are only a game behind Miami for the eighth seed and three games back from having sole possession of the sixth seed. Blowing games can teams like the Nets is completely unexeptable at this point in the season. Luckily, Detroit has a chance to make up for it in their final eleven games.
Over their final eleven games this year the Pistons play seven teams whose record is .500 or below (starting with the Bulls tonight). Of those teams this schedule includes three games against teams who are fighting the Pistons for a playoff spot. Those games are at Chicago (the tenth seed) tonight, home vs Miami (the eighth seed) on the 28th, and at Milwaukee on the 31st. All three of these are must win games if the Pistons want a playoff birth this year.
This game, much like last nights game, feels very winnable for the Pistons. Dwayne Wade is out for the rest of the year, so the only major scoring threat for the Bulls is Jimmy Butler. Chicago has been on a steady decline since the trading deadline, falling from the seventh seed to the tenth in that time. Bottom line, Chicago just doesn’t have the talent (on paper) to beat the Pistons.
With that said, Detroit will still probably make this a close game. It’s on the road, where they’ve been bad this year, and the second game of a back to back, where they’ve also been bad this year, so there is a pretty good chance the Pistons struggle tonight. I keep hoping that this team will wake up and find a desperation to win games, but I keep getting disappointed. If they don’t find the fire they need tonight, the start of their final playoff push, I don’t think they’re going to.
Key match up.
Chicago is just running out of players who can score at this point in the year. That’s why they can’t let Butler go off tonight. If the Pistons keep him in check then they should win.
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