Opponent: Detroit Pistons
Starting Lineup: Bruce Brown-Tony Snell-Luke Kennard-Markieff Morris-Andre Drummond
Second Unit: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk-Langston Galloway-Christian Wood-Thon Maker
Leading Scorer: Drummond (21.9 PPG)
Leading Rebounder: Drummond (18.6 PPG)
Leading Assists: Kennard (4.2 APG)
Biggest Challenge: Drummond, AGAIN
Okay, I am just as tired of typing this as you are reading it, but Drummond is still putting up a monster year at 21.9 PPG, 18.6 RPG and 3.1 APG. His assists are the most shocking, as he is assisting on more than double the number of scores as he did last year. Those playmaking skills are going to be on high demand tonight with Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose and Tim Frazier out with injuries. Point Drummond will be unleashed!
Biggest Advantage: Injuries (?!?!) and playmaking
This is a wild thing to type because the Indiana Pacers are one of the most depleted teams in the NBA right now, but they have the depth to counter that to a degree. The Pistons don’t. Without all three of their natural point guards, they have little to no playmaking on their offense. Kennard and Brown will be playing de-facto point guard with Drummond holding a lot of the playmaking duties. That’s not ideal, and it is something the Pacers can take advantage of.
The X-Factor: Wood
The Pistons’ second unit, which has potential to be one of the best in the league when the roster is fully healthy (Kennard, Rose and Morris is a great bench trio), is as depleted as they come. Wood, who had a career game against the Pacers last time scoring 19 points with 12 rebounds, is possibly the team’s best option off the bench. If Myles Turner remains out with his ankle injury (he’s questionable), then that may open the door for another big game from Wood. Can someone on the Pacers’ bench hold him?
The Pistons are a tough matchup for the Pacers, which was evident from their early season wins, but not with this roster. They have no true point guards available, and their best player, Blake Griffin, remains out. This is a big game for the Pacers for tiebreaker purposes, as a win keeps a 2-2 season tie with the Pistons in play. Limiting Drummond remains the biggest issue for the Pacers, but expect big games from some of Indiana’s wings who will be matched up against inferior Pistons who don’t normally get the playing time they will receive tonight.