Detroit Pistons (4-2) @ LA Clippers (5-1)
7:30 p.m. PST
November 7, 2016
The LA Clippers return home after a two-game road trip to host the Detroit Pistons, their first Eastern Conference opponent this season. The Pistons are coming off a 44-38 2015-2016 season, their best in 8 years. They also qualified for the postseason for the first time in 7 years, though they still haven’t won a playoff game since the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals. Detroit is off to a 4-2 start this season, ranking 5th in defensive efficiency.
Despite all of the recent success, one fact still remains for the Pistons: the Clippers have their number. LA has beaten Detroit 10 straight times, the longest active winning streak against any Clippers opponent. The last time the Pistons beat the Clippers was in November 2010, a 113-107 OT win at STAPLES Center. None of the 11 Pistons that played in that game are with the team now, and the Pistons have changed head coaches four times since then.
Now, with all of that said, Detroit head coach Stan Van Gundy is 0-4 vs the Clippers as Pistons head coach, with the most recent loss taking place in overtime last December. Clippers PF Blake Griffin had 34 points on 30 shots in that game, and he’s coming off a season-high 28-point performance in San Antonio. Pistons PG Reggie Jackson also scored 34 points in Detroit’s most recent loss to the Clippers last December, but he is still out due to knee surgery. Ish Smith will start his 7th game of the season. Smith struggled in two starts last season against the Clippers, shooting 26.7 percent from the field in two losses with the 76ers.
Detroit is 0-2 on the road so far this season, but they are coming off a 103-86 home win against the Nuggets. Smith shot poorly in that game (11 points on 5-of-13 FGs, 38.5 percent), but he did have a game-high 8 assists and only 2 turnovers. Pistons C Andre Drummond had 19 points on 6-of-10 FGs (60 percent), 20 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while backup PF Jon Leuer added 15 points on 6-of-10 FGs off the bench. Pistons backup SF Stanley Johnson, a product of Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., had by far his best game of the season against the Nuggets, scoring 12 points on 5-of-7 FGs (71.4 percent) after making only 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) from the field to start the season.
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) November 6, 2016
At some point, the poor free throw shooting of Drummond and Clippers C DeAndre Jordan will come up. Out of all active NBA players that have attempted at least 1,000 career FTs, Drummond (38.2 percent) and Jordan (41.9 percent) are the only ones under 50 percent for their careers. Drummond has actually taken steps to improve his FT shooting, relatively speaking, as he’s at a career-high 48.5 percent this season. But Jordan has gone the other way, making a career-low 28.6 percent this season.
What’s more important for Drummond and Jordan, two of the best rebounders in the league, is that they are both starting at center for top-5 defenses. Detroit opponents are shooting only 41 percent from the field, the 3rd-best defensive mark in the league. The Clippers have been even better, as opponents have shot only 40.9 percent from the field, 2nd-best in the league. Only the Hawks force more turnovers per game than the Clippers, with PG Chris Paul leading the league with 21 steals. LA leads the league in defensive efficiency going into Monday night’s games.
The Clippers return home to host the Pistons tonight, their first interconference game of the season. Which Conference is better this year?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) November 7, 2016