If the season were to end today, the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks would be outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff picture. It would take a minor miracle for anything to change for the Knicks in that regard between now and the end of the season in April, but the Pistons are still very much alive in the hunt for the postseason. Entering play Tuesday, Detroit sits just a game and a half behind the Charlotte Hornets for the final playoff spot. Let’s just say the Knicks have a bit of a wider deficit.
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The Pistons nabbed themselves arguably their most impressive win of the season on Monday night when they thrashed the Denver Nuggets at home. Detroit crushed Denver 129-103 in a statement victory over what has been one of the best teams in the league all season. Holding the Nuggets’ potent offense to just 103 points was easily the most impressive aspect of the Pistons’ triumph. Denver has only been held under 100 points twice since the calendar flipped to 2019.
Detroit will look to build on that win tonight when they face the aforementioned Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
The following odds are courtesy of our live odds feed:
|2019 ATS Home||11-16-1||8-14-2|
|2019 ATS Away||12-12-0||13-13-1|
|2019 O/U Home||13-15-0||10-14-0|
|2019 O/U Away||8-14-2||15-12-0|
There was no real reason to expect that kind of an effort from the Pistons last night. Over the weekend, Detroit had let a 25-point lead slip away in a devastating loss to the Clippers at home. It was the largest comeback win in Clippers regular season history, and the fact that the Pistons managed to blow the lead and still lose the game by 10 points made it one of the more brutal losses any team has suffered all season.
So, bouncing back and thumping the Nuggets was something few saw coming. Denver was without a couple of starters in Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap, but that doesn’t take away from what the Pistons were able to accomplish. Detroit shot better than 54 percent from the floor and canned 16 of their 37 looks from beyond the long line. They also impressively assisted on 32 of their 48 makes from the field.
The big man tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond has been making it happen all year for Detroit. Griffin put up a relatively quiet line of 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists last night while Drummond stole the show. Andre bagged 27 points with 12 rebounds and 3 blocks against Nikola Jokic, who has become one of the best defensive bigs in the game.
The duo should have an even easier time of it tonight against a New York frontline that has struggled defensively all season long. In a 115-108 win over the Knicks back in late November, Griffin tallied a game-high 30 points along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds, while Drummond added 6 points and 14 boards of his own. After Drummond dominated last night, I’d be surprised if Griffin didn’t take the reins of the offense in New York tonight.
Detroit has also gotten improved play out of Reggie Jackson of late. Jackson is only averaging 14.6 points and 4.3 assists per game on the year, but over his last 5 games the Boston College product is up to 19.4 points and 6.8 assists in about 33 minutes per game. He is also shooting 40 percent from 3-point range on 7 attempts per game in that span. Whether the Pistons mount a serious playoff push will likely depend on whether Jackson can provide consistent offense as a complement to Griffin and Drummond down the stretch. So far this month, he’s stepped it up.
Last Thursday, the Knicks shocked the NBA world when it was announced that they had decided to trade franchise cornerstone Kristaps Porzingis. The deal largely came out of nowhere, and it signaled that the Knicks may be on the verge of starting yet another rebuild. New York sent Porzingis along with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and a couple of future first-round draft picks.
Smith is the prized asset of the deal for the Knicks, while Jordan and Matthews are veterans on expiring deals. Don’t be surprised if the Knicks find a way to part ways with both experienced players before the deadline. Smith, meanwhile, will serve as the Knicks’ starting point guard. The new Knicks made their debuts over the weekend in what turned out to be a discouraging 96-84 defeat at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies aren’t a good team, either, yet they managed to storm the Big Apple and come away with an easy victory. The loss was the Knicks’ 13th consecutive defeat, which is the longest ongoing streak in the NBA. The defeat also dropped the Knicks to 10-42 on the season, which is now the worst record in the league. So, New York is in the driver’s seat when it comes to draft lottery odds next summer.
Smith struggled in his first game with his new team. The young point guard started and played 26 minutes, finishing with 8 points on just 3-for-9 shooting from the field. He also missed all 3 of his attempts from distance. Smith also chimed in with 6 assists and 3 boards. Jordan logged 12 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes of work, while Matthews scored 5 points off the bench.
It’s going to be interesting to see where New York gets its points these days. Hardaway Jr. is an inefficient chucker, but at least he could score. With no Porzingis and with Emmanuel Mudiay sidelined due to injury, there isn’t anyone currently in the Knicks’ rotation you could label as a go-to scorer. Kevin Knox could be that someday, but he seems to have hit the rookie wall of late. Knox led the team with 17 points against the Grizz, but he shot just 5-for-18 from the field.
New York shot just 37.8 percent from the field and they made just 12 of their 40 tries from beyond the long line in the loss. Things are going to get worse before they get better for this team.
I know the Pistons have been maddeningly inconsistent, but I have a hard time looking at this game and seeing how on earth the Knicks can actually win it. The Knicks are just 4-point underdogs here, which doesn’t look like a big enough spread for a directionless team that has lost 13 straight coming in. The Pistons are nothing special defensively, but where are their points going to come from?
These are the games the Pistons absolutely have to have if they want to be taken seriously in the playoff race. Detroit should be riding high after their demolition of the Nuggets last night, and, most importantly, the starters didn’t have to see extended minutes thanks to the blowout. So, Griffin, Drummond and the rest of the regular rotation options should be fresh heading into this game tonight.
I think the Pistons win this game rather easily. Trusting Detroit to do anything right is a dangerous plan, but this pick is a testament to just how atrocious the Knicks have been lately. Give me Detroit to easily cover the 4-point spread at Madison Square Garden tonight.
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