The struggle continues. The Brooklyn Nets were unable to pull off the upset and lost their third straight game, a 95-91 decision to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. Brooklyn has lost six out of their last eight games and find themselves sliding in the standings. The Nets haven't been able to do anything against teams above .500, and luckily for them, they won't face any until they December 30 when they travel to Chicago to conclude 2014.
Speaking of struggle, the Detroit Pistons will be the opponents this Sunday evening. If it weren't for the Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit would be the consensus pick for worst team in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons have underachieved this season and at 5-22, they have the third worst record in the league this season. They lost their last game, a 110-100 final to the Eastern Conference leading Toronto Raptors. The Pistons have lost 12 straight games at home (three straight overall) and any hopes of them competing for a playoff spot look to be a pipe dream.
We can add Deron Williams to the list. Williams had to leave the game on Friday with a calf injury and is listed as doubtful for this contest. Brook Lopez is still dealing with his back injury and is also doubtful. Both are hoping to return next week.
Nothing to report for the Pistons.
Where to follow the game
On television, head over to the YES Network. For the radio listeners, with the New York Giants and St. Louis Rams playing on Sunday afternoon, WFAN 101.9 will be occupied (side note: check out sister sites Big Blue View and Turf Show Times for coverage on that game). Tip off is scheduled for a bit after 3 PM.
What's happened with these teams?
Offensive Rebounding Rate
Free Throw Rate
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage
The Nets won the first meeting 102-90 back on November first.
Remember when Stan Van Gundy called the Nets a bush league organization? Funny how time flies.
Here's a name we can throw on the trade mill: Isaiah Thomas. The crew at Detroit Bad Boys takes a look and sees if there's a match between the Pistons and Suns. And speaking of the rumor mill, we've got Deron Williams to the Sacramento Kings rumors. The trading deadline is on February 19 so watch this space.
Ever since Brook Lopez went down with his back injury, Mason Plumlee's game has picked up. Since December eighth (the first game Lopez missed), Plumlee has averaged around 15 points, nine rebounds and one block a game while shooting 57 percent from the field. In the offseason, Plumlee spoke of looking to expand his range on offense, but only two of his last 74 field goal attempts have come from outside of the restricted area. He's still a terrible free throw shooter, but he's managed to contribute despite that. Plumlee and Kevin Garnett will be matched up with the frontcourt duo of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Drummond hasn't been able to build upon his successful first two seasons. He's still one of the league's best rebounders, but has been unable to avoid foul trouble and hasn't shot as well near the rim as he did in his first two seasons. Monroe has been coming off of the bench recently and has been one of their better players. What hurts the Pistons tag team of big men is the lack of shooters around them. Only one person is shooting above 40 percent from three point range (Kyle Singler) and that makes it incredibly difficult for them to get clean looks on the inside.
Year two of the Josh Smith Experience has proven to be just as lousy as year one. In the preseason, Van Gundy mentioned the possibility of Smith coming off of the bench, but he's started every game. Smith has rewarded that faith by having the worst season of his life. He's shooting a career low 39.5 percent from the field and career worst 46.7 percent from the free throw line. To his credit, he has cut down on the rate in which he's attempting three pointers. Detroit is 11.6 points per 100 possessions worse when Smith is on the court. Altogether, his win shares per 48 minutes is zero. That's not a typo. Zero. Smith will try to slow down Joe Johnson. With Lopez and Williams out, the offense will be flowing through him. Johnson's post up ability will be thwarted by Smith's size and length. Where Johnson can have a big impact is on the perimeter. He's made 15 three pointers in the five games since coming back from a stomach virus. This is a game in which Johnson might need to play 40+ minutes in order for Brooklyn to win.
Player to watch: Brandon Jennings
Yeah, it hasn't been pretty for the former lottery pick. In his second season with Detroit, he still hasn't been able to shoot above 40 percent from the field (he's only done it once in his career). Making matters even worse, Jennings is shooting a career low 32.4 percent from three point range. He's been the butt of everyone's jokes since Detroit's loss to Dallas when...
told you it wasn't pretty. With Jennings, Smith, and an underachieving roster, there isn't much to look forward to if you're a Pistons fan.
Assuming Williams is out, look for Jarrett Jack to get the start. Jack has been cold in recent games, but has the potential to hold it down for Williams in this game. Jack isn't a scorer so look for him to set Johnson and the slumping Bojan Bogdanovic up at every opportunity. As for Jennings, he's not an awful passer, but he might be better off looking for his own shot.
From the Vault
Even when the Pistons were finished as a contending team, they still managed to hassle the Chicago Bulls.
More reading: Detroit Bad Boys