Following last Wednesday's game against the Magic, the Mavs were riding high, having put up 120+ in three straight, all wins.
Boy, what a difference a week can make.
Dallas will host Detroit this Wednesday, and things are going to start to get really ugly fast if they don't show some signs of life against the Pistons. The Mavs have lost three in a row, and all in varying degrees of embarrassment, from letting Rajon Rondo and a mess of a Kings' squad steal one, to a pair of head-shaking miscues that cost them an overtime game in Denver, to the final insult of DeAndre Jordan dunking all over their home court in Monday's blowout against the Clippers.
I cautioned against overreacting to the offensive fireworks the Mavs put on lesser teams last week, and I'll caution against doomsday predictions now, but sufficed to say Dallas is going in the wrong direction and the Pistons are hardly pushovers.
What have the Pistons done lately?
Much like the Mavs, Detroit is a bit up and down in their play, though that seems more forgivable considering the youth and inexperience on their roster. After being blown out against the lowly Knicks Sunday, the Pistons flew home and promptly crushed February's hottest team, the Blazers. The Pistons have beaten a lot of good teams this year, but they're still on the bubble in the East playoff picture, a half game back from Chicago for the 8th and final seed. Detroit tried to be very active as buyers at the trade deadline, so it would appear that they are all in for the postseason push.
What will be the biggest matchup?
Dallas got a long look at DeAndre Jordan Monday, and against Detroit they'll face a similar presence in Andre Drummond, a dominant shot-blocker, rebounder and dunker who, chances are, we'll see the "hack-a" strategy employed against at some point (Dre is 6 for his last 27 from the free throw line, good for 22 percent). That means that Zaza Pachulia -- whose minutes have evaporated the last nine games after being a workhorse for most of the season -- will have to play some kind of role in this one, because otherwise Dallas does not have a lot of size to throw at Drummond. Unless you're cool with watching David Lee try to box him out.
What stat might surprise you about Detroit?
They are second to last in the league in assist rate (thanks Lakers!), so you probably won't be seeing a lot of crisp ball movement going around. One of Stan Van Gundy's most notable contributions has been trying to feed Drummond in the post in a role similar to the one Dwight Howard had under Van Gundy in Orlando. The results haven't been too good; Drummond is enough of a physical freak to score, though it has sapped a big portion of his offensive efficiency and at times kills the Piston's flow at that end. More to the point, those Drummond post-ups are largely responsible for the Pistons' low assist total, as Drummond is 56 out of 58 qualified centers in individual assist rate (which also means he's 334th out of 336 players overall).
How to watch
Tip-off starts at 8:30 Eastern Time, 7:30 CT. You can watch on Fox Sports Southwest or on League Pass via your streaming device. So...let's go Mavs?