Setting the Table: Detroit Pistons (Game 61)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 8, 2013 under Previews | Read the First Comment

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Coming off a much-needed victory over the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks (27-33) start a four-game road trip against the Detroit Pistons (23-40). Dallas opens up their road trip against Detroit before facing Minnesota and Milwaukee and closing it out against their in-state rivals, the West-leading San Antonio Spurs.

The Pistons might be without the services of Greg Monroe. He’s nursing a sprained left ankle suffered in practice Tuesday. He missed the team’s game against the New York Knicks earlier in the week. He is considered to be a game-time decision for the game against the Mavericks. Pistons assistant coach Brian Hill will run team tonight in place of Lawrence Frank. Frank is home in New Jersey tending to a family matter.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Pistons.

Series Notes:

Dallas has won nine of the last 11 meetings with Detroit. The Mavericks took the first meeting between the two teams this season, 92-77, at Dallas on Dec. 1, 2012. The Mavericks have now won five straight and nine of the last 11 showdowns with the Pistons in Dallas.

The Mavericks have taken three of the last four road meetings with Detroit. The Mavericks and the Pistons met once in 2011-12 (at Detroit on Jan. 10, 2012) and Dallas recorded a 100-86 win. Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting in the win over Detroit. The .900 field goal percentage was the highest field goal percentage he has recorded in any game in
his career (minimum 10 field goal attempts). The two teams split the 2010-11 season series (1-1), with the home team winning both times (the Pistons snapped a five-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a win at Detroit on Jan. 17, 2011).

Dirk Nowitzki tallied 42 points and 12 rebounds against Detroit on Nov. 23, 2010. The 42 points tied the Dallas series scoring record vs. Detroit (Michael Finley had 42 vs. Detroit on Nov. 27, 2002).

The meeting between the Pistons and the Mavericks on Oct. 30, 2001 not only opened the 2001-02 season, but also marked the first-ever game at American Airlines Center (Dallas won 94-87).

It’s a Small World:

Rick Carlisle began his head coaching career with Detroit and coached the Pistons for two seasons (2001-02 and 2002-03), leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002-03. Carlisle posted a 100-64 (.610) record with Detroit…The Pistons won the Central Division Championship both years he was at the helm. Following his first year as head coach of Detroit (2001-02), Carlisle earned NBA Coach of the Year honors.

Chris Kaman was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., and went on to play his college ball at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Vince Carter played for Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank in New Jersey from 2005-09. Mavericks forward Elton Brand and Pistons forward Corey Maggette were college teammates at Duke during the 1998-99 season. They reached the championship game together that year, but lost to Connecticut. Brand and Maggette went on to play seven seasons together in the NBA as members of the L.A. Clippers from 2001-08. Kaman, who was drafted by the Clippers in 2003, also played five seasons with both Maggette and Brand in Los Angeles from 2003-08.

Mike James was a member of the Pistons’ 2004 NBA championship team. He played in 26 regular season games for Detroit.

Three Keys:

1. Be ready for anything. That key mainly goes to guys like Chris Kaman, Brandan Wright, Elton Brand, Bernard James, Darren Collison and Mike James. Dallas used their 19th different starting lineup of the season against the Houston Rockets. Mike James started at the point, while Brandan Wright started in the middle for Dallas. It’s hard to build continuity with a revolving starting lineup, but the Mavericks have to do what is best to ensure solid starts to games. It could be matchup based or based on performances leading up to the games, but Rick Carlisle will do what he needs to do to put the team in the best position to win.

During the team’s shootaround in Detroit, Carlisle was very matter of fact to reporters in regards to the ever-changing starting lineup. “I’m tired of hearing about 19 starting lineups being a lot,” Carlisle told reporters. “I had 31 one year, so you guys can all go f— yourselves and I mean that in the most endearing way.” Maybe it took some self-reflection time to realize a better approach would work. “As you can tell this year, nothing is permanent,” Carlisle told reporters about the lineup changes. “Nothing is going to be set in stone.”

2. Shoot with efficiency. Dallas shot 54.2 percent (45-of-83) from the field in the win over Houston on Mar. 6. It marked the second time in the last three games (14th time this season) that the Mavericks shot at least 50 percent from the floor (.500, 39-78, at Brooklyn Mar. 1). The Mavericks are 12-2 this season when they shoot 50-plus percent from the field.

3. Protect the paint. The big men will be vital for the Mavericks as the Pistons like to pack it in when it comes to scoring in the paint. Detroit ranks first in the Eastern Conference and third in the NBA in points in the paint per game with 46.0. Last season, the Pistons averaged just 41.4 points in the paint per game.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.