After a couple of promising performances against the Kings and Nets in losses, the Pistons have been blown out in their last two games by the Jazz and 76ers respectively. The Pistons were not competitive in either game as their defense continues to be a huge problem.
The Pistons will be facing a Hawks team that hasn’t quite taken off to the upper parts of the standings in the Eastern Conference after acquiring Dejounte Murray in the offseason. They come into this game 16-16 with some internal issues that have gotten out to the public recently.
Where: State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA
When: Friday, December 23 at 7:30 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (+9)
The Hawks were expecting to be contending in the Eastern Conference this season after the blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray in the offseason. However, they only sit at 16-16, John Collins is on the trade block, and a feud between Trae Young and Nate McMillan went public.
Some of their recent struggles were due to Dejounte Murray missing a couple weeks with an injury, but when your star player is also feuding with your Head Coach, it is not a recipe for success, even if things get downplayed to the media.
Murray is back now and him and Trae Young form a very good backcourt that fuels the Hawks offensively. The Pistons have the size and defensive chops with Killian Hayes to try to slow down Trae Young, but he gives everybody problems no matter how good of a defender they are. Murray isn’t quite the scoring threat that Young is, but he can create his own shot and get to the basket with the best of them.
In the previous two matchups with the Hawks, Young and Murray combined for 62 and 49 points as the Hawks won both games. And both of those games were played when the Pistons had Cade Cunningham in the lineup who at least had some size to try to slow them down.
It is going to be a tall task defensively for Jaden Ivey to try to slow down Murray. Ivey’s offense has perked up a bit the last few games after hitting the rookie wall, and although he has the athleticism to try to stay in front of Murray, he just doesn’t have the defensive chops to give him problems.
Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart are going to have to be active defensively to protect the rim and try to slow down Young and Murray from getting to the basket.
DeAndre Hunter has become the Hawks number 3 option behind their two-headed monster backcourt as he is averaging a career-high 15.2 points per game. He is also a solid defender who will be tasked with slowing down Bojan Bogdanovic for the Pistons. That hasn’t been an easy task for very many people this season.
As is the key any time you play the Hawks, you have to slow down one of Murray or Young. In the game where Young and Murray only combined for 49 points, it was a 5 point loss for the Pistons. The 62 point game was a 24 point loss.
Even though the Pistons are on a 4 game slide, the Hawks are a beatable team as long as we don’t get the Pistons we got against the Jazz and Sixers.
Atlanta Hawks (16-16): Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, Clint Capela
Detroit Pistons (8-25): Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren
Is the Isaiah Stewart-Jalen Duren frontcourt a frontcourt that can start for a playoff team in the future?