Detroit are the form team of the NBA right now. They were able to do the near impossible and go into Oracle Arena and beat the Warriors after beating the Clippers the night before. Avery Bradley (23 points) and Reggie Jackson (22 points, five assists) led the way while big man Andre Drummond dominated the boards, chipping in with 18 rebounds. They were able to capitalize off the Warriors’ 25 turnovers by scoring 33 points and were perfect from the charity stripe. While they allowed Golden State to shoot 57% from the field they beat them at their own game by shooting 44% from the perimeter.
The Lakers were mediocre in their most recent outing against the Jazz, managing just 81 points. No player contributed more than 16 points (Brandon Ingram) and rookie Lonzo Ball was especially poor, going 30% from the field and turning ball over five times. He wasn’t the only culprit with big men Larry Nance Jr, Brook Lopez and Julius Randle all turning it over four times each. They’ll need to take care of the ball much better to get close against Detroit.
Three keys to the game
Finding a scorer – The Lakers have struggled to find a legitimate scorer so far this season. While Ball’s passing has been solid, the man who should be their main scoring presence, Lopez, has had only a true shooting percentage of 49%. To utilize the talents of Ball they need to surround him with lineups that can shoot.
Minutes load – Stanley Johnson and Drummond both played 40 minutes against the Warriors. Luckily, they have a night off before heading to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers but coach Stan Van Gundy will have to be wary of how he manages his players. Ball has averaged 35 minutes per game for the Lakers but with the recent return of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope should help take the load off the young rookie.
Big man rotation – The Lakers have a glut of bigs on their roster and none of them really stand out in terms of elite skill set. Nance is a good energy guy and solid around the rim, Randle likes having the ball in his hands while the veteran Lopez is a flat out scorer, despite his struggles so far this season. There’s also Andrew Bogut, who is a solid performer and locker room presence. Luke Walton is going to continue to have a tough time finding the right rotation that utilizes his front court to the best of their abilities.
Matchup to watch
Andre Drummond vs Brook Lopez – Drummond’s strength lies in his rebounding ability while Lopez has never been strong in that area. Look for Drummond to bully the Lakers big man and get his team extra possessions. Lopez will need to start nailing his 3-point shots to force Drummond out of his comfort zone under the rim. It’s a battle of two guys with contrasting games; both will have a huge effect on their team’s success.
Detroit Pistons projected starting lineup
PG – Reggie Jackson | SG – Avery Bradley | SF – Stanley Johnson | PF – Tobias Harris | C – Andre Drummond
Los Angeles Lakers projected starting lineup
PG – Lonzo Ball | SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | SF – Brandon Ingram | PF – Julius Randle | C – Brook Lopez
Ball was benched in crunch time against the Jazz in their most recent loss. After his poor opening game he responded with a dominant performance against the Suns. Look for him to respond in type against the Pistons. He may even flirt with a triple double if he and his teammates hit their shots.
The Pistons go into the game as four-point favorites following their scintillating recent form. If they continue to play how they did against the Clippers and Warriors, the Lakers don’t stand a chance. But, I sense an upset. The Lakers have shown more character this season and Ball will likley be back to his best here. The Lakers with a +4.0 head start seems like the right play.
Ball leads the Lakers to an upset win over the in-form Pistons. The young Lakers squad proves too much as the long west coast road trip finally starts to take its toll on Detroit.
Catch this one on NBA TV, Spectrum Sports Network and Fox Sports Detroit. Tip off is at 10:30 pm ET at Staples Center.
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