Sixers @ Detroit Preview: a new beginning

Fresh off his all-star game performance, forward Andre Iguodala will try to help the Sixers end their 5 game losing streak. Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Typically, one would say the Detroit Pistons, even on the road, represent a team the Sixers should be able to bounce back against and right the ship. The Sixers have dominated the 11-24 Pistons in their two previous meetings, winning by an average of 22 points per game while holding the Pistons to 35.5% from the field in those two contests.

But with the way the Sixers have played of late, the opponent hardly matters, particularly when playing on the road. The Sixers have lost 4 in a row on the road and are 7-8 on the season away from the Wells Fargo Center.

It doesn't help that the Pistons are playing better ball as of late, winning 7 of their last 11 games, albeit against against either bad teams (Sacramento, New Jersey, Milwaukee, New Orleans) or teams that are playing bad (Boston). In particularly, rookie guard Brandon Knight has been playing better of late, averaging 18.8 points per game on 48% from the field while averaging 3 made three pointers per game over the last 4 games. Knight and Greg Monroe (who just dropped 30/14 on the Raptors before the break) will be at the center of the Sixers defensive attention tonight.

Injury front

Spencer Hawes will be out at least two more weeks with his strained Achilles injury after meeting with a specialist in California. Hawes has missed 19 of the Sixers last 21 games. On the year, the Sixers are 8-12 when Hawes doesn't play.

On the positive side, it appears that Elton Brand will give it a go tonight, as he practiced yesterday without a splint or tape on the right thumb that kept him out of the previous two games before the All-Star break.

Scouting report

Two individual matchups will be key tonight: Jrue Holiday defending the Brandon Knight pick and roll and Elton Brand (?) defending Greg Monroe in the post.

On the season, Jrue has been very good defending the pick and roll, although that number has been coming down of late. He has also helped hold Knight to 9.5 points on 28.1% shooting with nearly as many turnovers as assists in the first two games. Not that Jrue has done all that much on the offensive end himself during those two games, but if he makes Knight into a non-factor that takes away a major option in an already struggling offensive team.

As for Monroe, that's a little tougher of a matchup for the Sixers. While the Sixers have held Monroe to 40% from the field, the big man has gotten made 10 free throws in the two games against the Sixers and is putting up impressive averages of 19 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game against the Sixers. He is the only player on the Pistons averaging more than 11 points per game against the Sixers this season.

The final key will be keeping the Pistons off the offensive glass. something struggled with somewhat during the last game as they gave up 14 offensive rebounds on 55 missed shots for the Pistons. The main Pistons to watch out for in that regard have been Greg Monroe (13.8% ORB%), Jason Maxiell (10.8%) and Jonas Jerebko (8.8%). Those three combined for 11 of the Pistons 14 offensive rebounds during these two teams last encounter.

Game thread will be up later tonight.

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