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3 steps to beating the Detroit Pistons

Is Dallas about to start a (gasp) win streak?

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons square off Wednesday night in Dallas, ending a lengthy home stretch. Six of their last seven games have been at home, in fact, and starting Friday that trend will reverse, as Dallas will then play seven of nine on the road.

The Pistons at 13-13 have the much better record than the 6-18 Mavs, but the two clubs are entering Wednesday’s matchup with momentum squarely on the Dallas side. The Mavericks are coming off their best win of the season in a blowout against Denver, while the Pistons suffered the embarrassment of being the rare victim of a Philadelphia 76ers victory (the Sixers are tied with Dallas for the worst record in the NBA) Sunday.

Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy took the blame for the loss, saying that he didn’t prepare his team properly after the team cancelled a gameday morning shootaround due to severe weather in the area. Don’t expect the Pistons to lay another egg after that kind of misstep; they’ll be rested and likely motivated.

So how does Dallas win back-to-back games for just the second time all season?

Win the turnover battle

The Pistons are leading the league in fewest turnovers per game, while Dallas is fifth. The Mavs are impressively also fifth in creating turnovers, so this will be a good strength-on-strength matchup. Dallas committed just nine turnovers against Denver, while forcing 16. When your offense is struggling, that kind of possession swing can be an equalizer. However...

Keep hitting shots

Not exactly a shocking insight, but see what happens when people actually make shots? Dallas went a season best 58 percent from the floor and knocked down 46 percent of their threes to boot. Of the nine players who saw more than five minutes of game action, D-Will was the only guy to not make at least 50 percent of his shot attempts. In other words, it was a total team effort, though the offensive burden will of course land primarily on Williams, as well as Harrison Barnes and the white-hot Wes Matthews, who is quickly reversing the "we let Monta go for this guy?" narrative. (Slightly petty note: Monta went scoreless while Wes poured in 26 in the Mavs’ win against Indiana last week, sooo there’s that...)

Bring the good Salah to the arena

Salah Mejri has been thrown into the fire with Andrew Bogut’s extended absence, and Mejri has occasionally been overmatched against some of the league’s more bruising post players. He picked up four fouls in 11 minutes against DeMarcus Cousins. Andre Drummond is not half as skilled with the ball as Boogie, but he’s a load inside, so Mejri will get tested. Mejri is coming off one of his best games of the year against the Nuggets, where he collected three blocks and a steal in the first few minutes of action. His defensive play making will be needed again.

Wednesday’s game won’t decide anything truly significant, but I think this could be a revealing moment for the future of the team. Are they really ready to try and take a step out of the cellar and into the middle of the pack (to say nothing of the question of whether or not they should), or was that display against Denver an aberration? We’ll find out.

How to watch

Tip-off is 8:30 Eastern Time, 7:30 Central, on FSSW or League Pass.