Scouting Report: Detroit Pistons
The Hawks (34-42) will take on the Pistons (28-49) Tuesday night to make up for their game from February that was cancelled due to ice. The Hawks are coming off back-to-back wins, most recently a dominating 107-88 victory on the road over the Pacers. The Pistons got a win in their last game, beating the Celtics 115-111, but have gone just 5-14 since the beginning of March.
The Pistons’ offense has been inefficient, plagued by spacing issues, and former Hawk Josh Smith has struggled in his role as primary small forward. As a team, the Pistons are the third-worst in the NBA in true shooting percentage at 51.5%, only above the Celtics and Sixers.
Smith, playing the three next to Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, has had to operate further from the basket this season. As a result, he’s taken 64 more three-point attempts this season than in any previous season and is shooting just 26.4% on his 265 attempts and only 41.9% from the field overall.
The Pistons’ other big offseason acquisition was Brandon Jennings, and he too has struggled with efficiency on the offensive end. Jennings is shooting just 37.6% from the field and 34.8% from three-point range. Jennings has struggled with his shot, but he is operating as primary ball-handler for the Pistons and is averaging 7.7 assists per game — a career-high.
The duo of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe have been dominant on the glass, with Drummond averaging 12.9 rebounds per game and Monroe pulling down 9.3 per game. Their size and length inside will be a primary concern for the Hawks, who have struggled at times with teams that are good on the offensive boards. In their victory over the Hawks in Detroit earlier this season, the Pistons had 16 offensive rebounds for 22 second-chance points. In the Hawks victory in Atlanta, the Pistons had 15 offensive boards, but only got 11 second chance points off of them. Keeping the Pistons’ bigs from getting easy put-backs off of offensive rebounds has to be a focal point for the Hawks defense.
On the defensive end, despite having so much size, the Pistons are not a particularly effective defensive unit with a defensive rating of 106.9 (25th in the NBA). Drummond gets a number of blocks due to his length and athleticism but often over-pursues on help defense, opening up the weak side and is easily drawn into the air on pump-fakes. Smith, always an excellent defender in Atlanta, has not found the chemistry with Drummond or Monroe that he shared with Al Horford. Against the Pistons this season, Paul Millsap has averaged 21 points, and has found success in the pick-and-roll game against the Pistons’ bigs.
The Hawks have plenty of motivation headed into this game as their magic number to reach the playoffs is down to three, and they are in excellent form, as they’ve showed in their last two games against the Pacers and Cavs.
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