The Detroit Pistons are off to their best start this decade and look to keep it going when they host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. Detroit’s 7-3 start marks its best season-opening 10-game stretch since posting the same record in 2008-09.
Indiana routinely has handled the Pistons lately, winning the last six meetings - including all four last season. The Pacers are limping into Detroit with a three-game losing streak after suffering a 117-112 home loss against New Orleans on Tuesday to drop one game below .500. “We have to do a better job when teams make adjustments,” Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo told reporters after the setback. “We kind of withered away in the second half. And as a leader, I have to make sure we’re ready to play in both halves, so this one’s on me.” Forward Tobias Harris has helped fuel Detroit’s strong start with a team-best 19.1 points and is shooting 45.9 percent from 3-point range, well above last year’s mark of 34.7.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, FSN Detroit
ABOUT THE PACERS (5-6): Indiana had no answers on how to slow New Orleans big men Anthony Davis (37 points) and DeMarcus Cousins (32), but its offensive fade was just as troublesome. The Pacers blistered the Pelicans for 75 first-half points while building a 14-point lead and then scored just 37 in the second half during a collapse that frustrated coach Nate McMillan. “We needed to be the aggressors in the second half and we came out flat,” McMillan told reporters. “Our guards have to establish the tempo, and that’s fair to say both ways. When teams are making a run, I only have so many timeouts. This is where we are. We have to grow, and this can’t continue.”
ABOUT THE PISTONS (7-3): Standout center Andre Drummond has recorded seven double-doubles and collected at least 12 rebounds in each game while averaging 14 points and 14.7 boards. The 24-year-old also has improved his free-throw shooting (75 percent compared to 38.6 last season) and passing (2.7 assists to 1.1), and the transformation pleases tough-to-impress coach Stan Van Gundy. “I just want his mentality to stay even keel,” Van Gundy told reporters while discussing the fact Drummond recorded 16 points, 19 rebounds, four assists and three steals in Saturday’s 108-99 victory over Sacramento. “I saw a big step forward in terms of his maturity the other night, and if he stays with that and he’s playing a lot harder on a more consistent basis, I thought that was really, really good.”
1. Indiana’s four victories over the Pistons last season were by an average of 14.5 points.
2. Pacers PF Domantas Sabonis (calf) sat out Tuesday and is unlikely to play against the Pistons.
3. Detroit SF Stanley Johnson (hip) is questionable to play Wednesday, while PF Jon Leuer (ankle) could miss his third straight game.
PREDICTION: Pistons 109, Pacers 99