It’s an inter-conference clash down in the Lone Star State. The Detroit Pistons are on the road as they travel to face the sizzling Houston Rockets Thursday night. Detroit won their second straight by trouncing the Suns 115-88 Tuesday night. Houston won their sixth straight and 23rd in the last 24 games as they defeated the Trail Blazers 115-111 on the road Tuesday night. The Pistons have a 71-66 lead in the all-time regular season series between the teams and have taken two straight, including a 108-101 home win in the first meeting this season on January 6.
Detroit Pistons Try for Third Straight Triumph
Detroit won their second straight on this six-game road trip that ends here by routing a hapless Phoenix team that has the league’s worst record. Of course, Detroit had lost three straight, seven of eight, 10 of 12 and 13 of their previous 16 before that, which is why they are 5.5 games behind the Bucks for the final playoff spot with 11 games to go. The Pistons were tied after one quarter, led by six at the half and outscored Phoenix 71-50 in the second half to win going away. Detroit shot 43.7 percent from the floor, hit 15 of 36 three point attempts and forced 19 Phoenix turnovers. The Pistons were led by Blake Griffin, who had 26 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in the win.
The Pistons have been up and down offensively, ranking 26th in scoring offense with 102.9 points per game. Detroit is tied for 18th in rebounding with 43.3 boards per game and are average sharing the ball, ranking 20th in assists with 22.4 per night. The team is 7th in scoring defense as they allow 103.9 points a game. Blake Griffin, who was the centerpiece of a deal consummated with the Clippers on January 29, puts up 21.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. Reggie Jackson adds 14.4 points plus 5.4 assists per contest while Andre Drummond contributes 14.8 points, 15.7 rebounds and 1.65 steals per night. Ish Smith chips in 10.7 points and 4.3 assists per game. James Ennis III, Reggie Bullock (11 points), Anthony Tolliver, Langston Galloway, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Jameer Nelson and Jon Leuer all are key pieces for the Pistons rotation. Jackson injured his ankle against Indiana December 26: he missed 37 games with a Grade 3 sprain before returning against Phoenix March 20. Leuer has been out since October 31 with a sprained ankle: he could be done for the year after surgery. Detroit is tied for 24th in the league by shooting 44.7 percent from the floor. The Pistons are currently tied for 14th in the league in three point field goals with 10.6 per game while ranking tied for 5th by sinking 37.3 percent from downtown.
Houston Rockets Shoot for Seventh Straight Win
Houston is blisteringly hot at the moment with six straight wins and triumphs in 23 of their last 24 games coming in. They snapped Portland’s 13 game win streak with the victory and opened up a four-game lead on the Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference. Houston was tied at the half and down one after three quarters before outscoring Portland 29-24 in the fourth to earn the tough win. The Rockets shot 48.1 percent from the field but drained 19 of their 36 three point attempts to negate a 44-38 rebounding disadvantage. James Harden led Houston with 42 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the win.
The Rockets are above average offensively: they are 2nd in the league with 113.7 points per game. Houston is 17th in rebounding with 43.4 boards per game and 24th with 21.7 assists a night. The Rockets are 11th in scoring defense as they allow 104.8 points per game. James Harden leads the team with 31.2 points per game while grabbing 5.2 boards and dishing out 8.7 assists a night. He missed seven games with a hamstring strain before returning against the Timberwolves January 18. Eric Gordon is putting up 18 points per contest while Clint Capela averages 14.1 points plus 10.9 rebounds a night. PJ Tucker and Ryan Anderson (9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds) each are key secondary options this season. Nene Hilario, Gerald Green, Joe Johnson, Trevor Ariza (11.9 points, 4.5 boards, 1.47 steals), Chris Paul (18.8 points, 7.9 assists, 1.7 steals) and Luc Mbah a Moute are key pieces in the rotation as well. The Rockets are 13th in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 46.3 percent as a team. Houston is 1st in the league with 15.4 threes a night while the team is tied for 10th by shooting 36.7 percent from long range this season.
- Pistons are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
- Pistons are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win
- Pistons are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- Rockets are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS loss
- Rockets are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game
Detroit has won two straight but there’s a quick way to temper the good feelings about that. The wins came against Sacramento and Phoenix, two of the four worst teams in the West, both of whom have been eliminated from playoff contention. Houston is as far from a bottom feeder as you can get as they have the league’s top record. The three-headed backcourt monster of Harden, Paul and Gordon is more than enough to snap the Pistons’ win streak at two.
Pick: Houston Rockets
Detroit is hanging on to faint hopes of a postseason berth but the fact remains that they entered Wednesday 5.5 games behind with 11 games to go. It’s not a good position to be in and the odds are likely that they’ll be on the outside looking in when the postseason gets underway. Houston, on the other hand, has a four game lead for the top spot in the Western Conference and seems poised to earn home court advantage throughout the playoffs. As the saying by Ric Flair goes though, “To be the man, you have to beat…the man.” Right now until dethroned, the Warriors are the man: can the Rockets take the crown?
The under is 4-0 in the Pistons’ last 4 games following an ATS win, 4-0 in their last 4 vs. a team with a winning straight up record, 4-0 in their last 4 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game and 7-1-2 in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Houston has seen the under go 4-0 in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a losing road record and 5-1 in their last six home games. Given that this total will likely be inflated given the Rockets’ ability to score, this one likely falls under the total.