San Antonio Spurs @ Detroit PistonsThe Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
February 10, 2014, 6:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
The San Antonio Spurs continue the yearly Rodeo Road Trip with a contest against the Detroit Pistons. The Spurs started the road trip with back-to-back wins before falling to Brooklyn without the Big 3. They rebounded on Saturday night with a win against Charlotte, as Patty Mills lit up the Bobcats late to help rally the team to a victory. The All-Star break is approaching, but San Antonio has a few more games before reaching that much-needed break.
The next game up is against a disappointing but dangerous Detroit Pistons team. Detroit made some splashes over the offseason and was pegged a surprise contender out of the Eastern Conference by many pundits. Over halfway through the season, it looks like Detroit may not even make the playoffs. That's a far cry from the expectations when forward Josh Smith was signed to a big offseason contract. Smith hasn't been disappointing, but his signing hasn't turned in to wins.
Growing tired of their losing ways, the front office recently relieved head coach Mo Cheeks of his duties. Tonight's game against the Spurs will be the first for their interim coach, John Loyer.
The Pistons had hoped that pairing Smith with Greg Monroe would give Detroit one of the better front-courts in the league with Andre Drummond at center. They were expected to be one of the better rebounding and defensive teams in the East, but that hasn't played out this season. Detroit is coming off a win against Denver, but has been wildly inconsistent throughout the season and a lot of it has to do with a lack of depth and an abundance of injuries. In that win against Denver, the Pistons only had one player, Rodney Stuckey, score off of the bench. In fact, only three players logged minutes off of the bench in that game as guys like Charlie Villanueva and Chauncey Billups missed the game.
For all the talk about Smith joining the Pistons this summer, point guard Brandon Jennings has been the bright spot for the team, leading the team with 17.7 points and 8.2 assists a game to go along with a 17.3 PER. After coming over from the Milwaukee Bucks, Jennings has remained one of the more dangerous point guards in the league. His issue remains his consistency from the perimeter and his inability to shut down opposing point guards on the defensive end.
Smith has been effective from his small forward role, but he hasn't produced as much offensively as I think Detroit expected. The Pistons needed him to become a 20-10 guy each night out and he has not turned into that this year despite averaging the second-most points on the team with 16.1 a night. With Drummond and Monroe clogging the lane for much of the night, Smith hasn't been used on the block as much as he was in Atlanta and his overall game has suffered from being forced away from the basket by design. His rebounding numbers have dropped and it feels like Smith has settled on offense way too much this season.
Drummond, while still very raw as an offensive player, is one of the better rim protectors and rebounders in basketball. There aren't a lot of guys like him left in the league and the throwback feel to his game has helped Detroit be one of the better rebounding teams in the league. They're seventh in the league in rebounding, but the also 25th in points allowed per game. Combine that with pedestrian numbers on the offensive end and it is easy to see why Detroit has been deemed a disappointment by so many basketball observers this season.
Neither team is at full strength entering this matchup, but the Spurs still have more bench weapons. Detroit should have some success on the glass and Jennings will be able to cause issues with his ability to penetrate, but Detroit has holes in its game that San Antonio should be able to exploit because of experience and depth.
Matchup to watch: The Pistons do create some interesting mismatches because of their size in the front court. This may be a game where San Antonio really misses Kawhi Leonard on the defensive end. The trio of Tiago Splitter, Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw will need to play a lot of tough minutes for San Antonio to not get hurt on the glass because the only way the Pistons can win this game is by creating second chance opportunities on the offensive boards.
John Loyer (Interim)
Pistons perspective can be found here: Detroit Bad Boys
Game Prediction: Spurs by 8.
Line in Vegas: Spurs by 3 1/2.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.
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