Looks like the Detroit Pistons still have some work to do. But they’ve overcome the NBA odds in four of their last five games, and on Friday, they face the Atlanta Hawks, who are 1-3 ATS in their last four.
Jason’s record as of Nov. 20: 9-6 ATS
Profit: plus-4.43 units
In the Year 2000… Joe Dumars took over President of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons. They started the season 4-8 and ended up missing the playoffs at 32-50. One year later, the Pistons were 50-32. Three years later, they were NBA champions. All good things happen to those who wait.
Stan Van Gundy has time to wait. He’s the new PBO and the head coach as well, signing a fat five-year, $35-million contract to rebuild Detroit in his own image. Van Gundy knows it’ll take some time; the Pistons may be off to a 3-9 start (4-8 ATS), but they’re getting a little better every day, and they’ll carry a 4-1 ATS streak into Friday’s matchup (7:30 p.m. ET) against the Atlanta Hawks. Detroit is a 6.5-point road dog on the NBA odds board, up from +6 in early trading.
As they stand right now, the 2014-15 Pistons look a lot like the pre-Gundy version. There’s still that logjam in the frontcourt, with Josh Smith (11.7 PER) miscast as a small forward alongside Greg Monroe (19.5 PER) and Andre Drummond (10.8 PER), who’s been a black hole on offense thus far. However, all three gentlemen are playing solid defense – the Pistons are a respectable No. 13 in defensive efficiency (103.2 points allowed per 100 possessions) as we go to press.
As for that No. 27-ranked offense (97.5 points/100), Detroit supporters can at least point to the improved shooting of point guard Brandon Jennings (22.9 PER), who’s off to a hot start at 44.2 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from behind the arc. Eventually, offseason addition Jodie Meeks will make his debut at shooting guard and give the Pistons the floor spacing they need. Until then, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (8.2 PER) will have to do, and he’s showing some improvement as a sophomore, as well.
The Pistons set the bar pretty low this year by losing their first three games in a row, and they dropped the cash in each of their first seven games. However, Monroe missed the start of the season because of a suspension, further delaying the team’s development. Detroit’s sneaky betting value is also enhanced by all those narrow losses, including Wednesday’s 88-86 defeat at the hands of the Phoenix Suns (–2.5 away). Just keep choppin’ wood.
We’ve already made some good money off the Hawks (5-5 SU, 4-6 ATS) this year. They’ve been using a three-guard lineup with newcomer Thabo Sefolosha (plus-1.6 DBPM) acting as a defensive buffer for Jeff Teague (17.7 PER) and the ridiculous Kyle Korver (51.7 percent from downtown). But Atlanta still needs more defense. At press time, the Hawks were just No. 23 in defensive efficiency (106.5), essentially cancelling out all the good stuff from their No. 12-ranked offense (105.1).
Atlanta has also lost back-to-back games going into Friday’s contest. Horror of horrors, the Hawks lost 114-109 to the Los Angeles Lakers (+8.5) on Tuesday – their first loss at home in five games. This was after falling behind by as much as 43 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers (–7 at home) in Saturday’s 127-94 walkover. The Hawks clearly could use DeMarre Carroll (plus-1.1 DBPM last year) back at small forward; he’s due to return from a groin injury that cost him the past four games, which covers Atlanta’s 1-3 ATS mini-slump. But we’ll take Detroit for our NBA pick; plus the points here. Groin injuries are no fun. Not even a little bit.
The Five Stars
Market Bias: ATL
Betting Line Value: DET
Verdict: 1-star pick on DET
Free NBA Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Pistons +7 (–107) at 5Dimes