Wolves at Pistons
5:00 pm CST
The Wolves will spend their New Year's Eve in Detroit facing off against a Pistons team that sits at 17-15, which in past years would place them squarely in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but this season they sit 10th in the conference.
Still, they are a much improved team, with a top 10 defense and terrific rebounding on both sides of the ball. With the Wolves coming off a win last night at home, followed by travel, finding the energy to keep up with the Pistons on the boards is going to be vital if the Wolves are to be in this one.
They are led by Andre Drummond, who is having a fantastic season anchoring the Pistons defense, dominating the glass, and posting up offensively. He's a very large and strong human for whom the Wolves simply might not have an answer. In the first match up of these teams, the Wolves controlled Drummond fairly well early and got him in foul trouble, but he dominated in the 2nd half and finished with 21 and 11 (on 10-13 from the field) in 29 minutes. He only took two free throws, his major weakness, as the Wolves chose not to play hack-an-Andre. We'll see if that changes tonight.
On the perimeter, Reggie Jackson is proving worth the investment they made in him so far, carrying a 30% usage rate with reasonable efficiency while leading the team in assists by a wide margin. He's a ball dominant point guard who has been let loose to run the offense for Stan Van Gundy. The Pistons are not a great three point shooting team, with only Jackson and Ersan Ilyasova over 34% among their regular shooters, but they aren't shy about spacing the floor and hoisting them up there.
The free throw line will be another key. The Pistons do a great job of defending without fouling, while free throws are a huge part of the Wolves' offense. How the game gets called will be very important. Meanwhile, the Pistons don't shoot a lot of free throws themselves, and Drummond, their most frequent free throw shooter by far, is shooting a shocking 38% from the line this season.
The Wolves have been awful in the 2nd game of back to back situations recently (of course they've been pretty awful in most situations), and it would be good for them to overcome that and find a way to get back to back wins.
It would be a nice way to ring in the New Year.
Our blogging buddies for the evening are over at Detroit Bad Boys. Be excellent.
No pics gifs links to illegal streams.
Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.