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Game preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Detroit Pistons

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The Spurs will look to snap a two-game losing streak when they face Stan Van Gundy's Pistons.

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Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs Detroit Pistons

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Date: 11/11/16, Time: 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

It's year three of the Stan Van Gundy era in Detroit. After making the playoffs last season -- and pushing the Cavaliers harder than the 4-0 series result suggests -- this was supposed to be the year in which the Pistons were going to break out and emerge early on as a second tier team in the East. Instead, Reggie Jackson missed the start of the season and that prediction feel apart. Now they are 4-4 and in the middle of a four-game West coast road trip that has seen them drop games to the Clippers and Suns already.

Detroit is clearly in survival mode. They are at .500 largely thanks to their fifth-ranked defense. Without Jackson to create, their attack lacks bite. Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris have stepped up in Jackson's absence, but they are better served as secondary options. The season is young but the Pistons -- which play four of the next five games on the road -- need to find a way to get a couple of quality wins soon. If they don't they might find themselves in an early hole on a suddenly competitive Eastern conference.

San Antonio's circumstances don't look so dire, but another home loss would have many reaching for the panic button. The Spurs have dropped the last two, both at home, against the Clippers and the Rockets. A decisive victory over the Pistons would go a long way towards easing some concerns about the struggles at the AT&T Center and helping the players regain confidence as they gear up for a rematch with Houston on the second game of a back-to-back on Saturday.

Welcome back, Boban!

Boban Marjanovic wanted to stay in San Antonio so badly that Gregg Popovich famously had to talk him out of it. He finally listened to reason and took a three-year, $21 million offer from the Pistons. He's not getting a ton of playing time but he has secured what might be his only big NBA contract and is on an organization that loves him almost as much as San Antonio did.

"Look, he is just a great person," Stan Van Gundy told Tom Osborn of the Express News. "He is going to be loved wherever he goes. And here's the thing, people talk about his size and everything else, but if he was my size, he would be a beloved person with that personality."

It's great to hear Boban is adjusting well to his new team and I expect him to get a warm welcome from the crowd. I was a little scared for him for a while because, as we've seen with Aron Baynes, Detroit can change a man.

Oh, who am I kidding. I miss the Big Banger too. Not Beno, though.

Parker back?

Tony has missed the last three games nursing a knee injury he suffered in opening night. The Spurs have him listed as questionable for Friday's game. It's unclear if he'll make his return then or if Pop will hold him out for the SEGABABA on Saturday against the Rockets. If he's ready to go, the Spurs sure could use him against Detroit.

It's not his production that the Spurs are missing, but his floor game. Parker has been bad when he's suited up, averaging five points and four assists on 33 percent shooting. Patty Mills has filled in admirably for him and Nicolas Laprovittola has done a solid job sopping up some minutes off the bench. Yet without Parker the offense seems to lack balance.

Without another ball handler next to him, Kawhi Leonard takes on too big a role. At this point Kawhi is more of a scorer than a playmaker and he's never had to handle floor general duties. As a result, he pulls the offense to himself too much. In the past three games he's taken 19 field goals on average. That's too many, and his efficiency has suffered for it. Hopefully if Parker returns, that will allow Leonard to take a slightly smaller role on offense.

Pau and LaMarcus will have their hands full

Pau Gasol only got 13 minutes of run against the Rockets, as Mike D'Antoni opted to go without a center for long stretches. The Pistons won't likely do that, as they have Drummond starting and our old friends Aron Baynes and Boban Marjanovic backing him up. The question then is, will Pau be able to handle the athleticism and physicality of Detroit's centers?

He did well when it came to keeping DeAndre Jordan and Rudy Gobert off the offensive glass, so there's reason to be optimistic. Drummond is another animal altogether, though. Pau will have to always have his body on the league's premier rebounder and try to use his length to prevent lobs.

As for Aldrdige, he'll be matched up with Tobias Harris. Harris is having a career year in terms of efficiency. He's connecting on 40 percent of his three-pointers, which means Aldridge will have to honor that shot and won't be able to help much on Drummond. He will also have to be under control on closeouts, because Harris can put the ball on the floor and has the athleticism to finish inside.

Fortunately, Aldridge should be able to use his length to shoot over Harris on the other end. The Spurs need LaMarcus to win that matchup. If he does, they should be able to get the win and snap their losing streak.

vs

Pistons logo

San Antonio Spurs

(Record: 5-3)

Detroit Pistons

(Record: 4-4)

November 11, 2016

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:30 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Starters

Patty Mills*

PG

Ish Smith

Danny Green

SG

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Marcus Morris

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Tobias Harris

Pau Gasol

C

Andre Drummond


*If Tony Parker is out.

Vegas line: Spurs by 8.

Game prediction: Spurs by 11.

For the Pistons fans' perspective, visit Detroit Bad Boys

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

As always, PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. But if you're not able to log in here, you can try the Fanvana app which helps connect sports fans and was created by a fellow Spurs fan. Check out the free app on iOS or Android to discover other Spurs fans and join the live chatter for tonight's game. You can follow PtR's tweet stream directly on Fanvana as the game unfolds.