The struggling Brooklyn Nets (3-9) return home Sunday afternoon for a strange 2 pm start time against the equally struggling Detroit Pistons (4-8). The Nets have lost 7 or their last 8 games after their embarrassing 30-point blowout in Minnesota on Friday. The Pistons have lost 3 out of 4, but their only win against the Knicks, which shouldn’t count because the Knicks are also terrible. If for some reason you want to pass on watching the Jets or Giants, both of whose games are important and interfere with this Nets game, get ready to watch some bad, bad basketball.
I thought the Pistons had one of the better offseasons in the NBA, but it sure hasn’t worked out so far. The paint is clogged on offense with 3 big guys, causing Detroit to be towards the bottom of the league in field goal % and dead last in both 3-point % and free throw %. The Josh Smith addition has been a disaster so far and Chauncey Billups hasn’t helped Brandon Jennings really improve his game.
This team seems like the perfect cure for the Brooklyn Nets, who are desperate for a win. Despite being 3-9, they are somehow only 3 games out of the division lead behind the 6-7 Raptors. That’s right, every team in the division is under .500, so the Nets still have a chance to win the division even though they really don’t deserve it.
Injuries: For the Nets, Deron Williams is definitely missing the game. We haven’t heard from the other injured players yet, but it is pretty unlikely that Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, or Jason Terry will play. For Detroit, Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum, and Charlie Villanueva all missed their last game and none are expected to play today. This could leave the Pistons with a pretty shallow backcourt.
Shaun Livingston vs. Brandon Jennings. Advantage: Livingston
Jennings has not gotten off to a good start as a Piston, shooting his lowest percentage and averaging his least points per game since his rookie year. He is also shooting his free throws at under 70%, which is very concerning for a career 81% shooter. He is slightly undersized, even as a point guard, and I like Livingston’s height advantage in this matchup. With the paint very crowded, Livingston should be able to get a good share of mid-range jump shots.
Joe Johnson vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Advantage: Johnson
With the injuries in the Pistons’ backcourt, Caldwell-Pope will likely start today. He has had a rough rookie year so far, averaging 7 ppg while shooting under 35%. He is also not great defensively and is 2 inches shorter than Joe Johnson. Joe should get a lot of open looks in this game.
Paul Pierce vs. Josh Smith. Advantage: Uhhhmmm
Coming into this season, this would be a pretty compelling matchup, but the way both these guys have been playing, this is sure to be very ugly. Josh Smith was benched in Detroit’s last game after skipping a practice and responded by 0-7 from the field for 0 points. He hasn’t had a double-digit rebound game yet as a Piston and is also shooting his worst percentage ever, 40%. On top of that, he is taking over FIVE 3’s per game, where he is shooting under 30%. But Paul Pierce isn’t much better. He has looked distracted in the Nets’ last 5 or 6 games and doesn’t really seem like he wants to be here. These two might combine to shoot under 30% today.
Kevin Garnett vs. Greg Monroe. Advantage: Monroe
Monroe is the most consistent Piston, averaging around 15 points and 9 rebounds per game. He is the type of player who could cause Kevin Garnett a lot of problems as we have seen this year. If Garnett doesn’t start playing better soon, he might as well just retire now and not wait until the end of the season.
Reggie Evans vs. Andre Drummond. Advantage: Drummond
Drummond is one of the most talented young players in the league and is averaging a double-double of 12 and 12 this year. However, this will be one of Reggie Evans’s rare matchups against a player who is a worse foul shooter than he is. Drummond is shooting TWENTY FOUR percent from the line this year. If I am the Nets, I will foul him whenever he even thinks about going up for a shot.
Bold prediction: Both of these teams will shoot under 40%. This game is gonna be really, really ugly.
Score prediction: Nets 82, Pistons 78. The Nets have to win eventually, right? Today they are playing against a team in turmoil who is 4-8 and they are at home. Even if the Nets don’t win, this one should at least be close-ish.