Since San Antonio's Gregg Popovich took over as the team's head coach in 1996, the Detroit Pistons have had 10 head coaches in that span. It will soon be 11 with whomever the team hires for the full-time gig after Coach Maurice Cheeks was surprisingly fired Sunday. To make it even more unusual, the Pistons enter Monday's game against the Spurs on a two-game winning streak. San Antonio opened as a 4.5-point favorite on NBA odds with a total of 207.5, by far the highest of any game Monday.
Dumars Next In Motown?
Frankly, GM Joe Dumars deserves the gate as the Pistons (22-27-1 ATS, 35-15 O/U) have been pretty much a disaster since winning the 2004 NBA Finals -- the only team of this era to do so without a superstar -- and losing in the championship the following season. The team hasn't finished with a winning record since 2007-08 and fairly new owner Tom Gores has mandated a playoff appearance this year or heads will roll. Dumars gave a four-year, $56 million deal to Josh Smith even though he's suited to play power forward and Detroit already has two good young frontcourt players in Greg Monroe -- who might be traded -- and Andre Drummond. The latter was recently benched just 11 seconds into the second half of a loss to Dallas when he blew a pick-and-roll play. Smith, meanwhile, predictably has struggled playing out of position. Yes he's averaging a solid 16.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game but is shooting only 42 percent from the field.
Smith was a monster in the Pistons' two previous wins. He put up 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four blocks in Friday's 111-95 win over Brooklyn and then 30 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in Saturday's 126-109 win over Denver. Point guard Brandon Jennings also got a big new deal from Detroit after the team traded Brandon Knight to Milwaukee for him. Jennings also has disappointed. He can score but that's because he shoots way too much and he certainly turns the ball over too often. Your point guard shouldn't lead the team in shots unless your name is Derrick Rose, but that's what Jennings does for Detroit. Drummond is getting only 9.3 shots per game and he's the future superstar.
The Spurs (24-27 ATS, 29-21-1 O/U at sportsbooks) are in the midst of their nine-game "Rodeo Road Trip" and have started it 3-1 (2-2 ATS). The one loss was in Brooklyn on Thursday -- a game we correctly projected a Nets cover for our basketball picks -- when Tony Parker and Tim Duncan both sat out. Parker was "hurt" while Duncan took a seat in the second of a back-to-back, which is the norm. On Saturday, San Antonio bounced back with a 104-100 win at Charlotte. Parker played but clearly wasn't 100 percent with his back issues. So Patty Mills got a ton of playing time and blew up with a season-high 32 points on 10-for-13 from the field.
The Spurs remain without the injured Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, while both Tiago Splitter and Marco Belinelli sat against Charlotte with minor injuries. Boris Diaw returned after missing the Nets game with an illness. Popovich can be a sports bettors' worst nightmare unless you study his trends on when he might sit guys. With the All-Star break upcoming, Pop could choose to sit more guys in order to get them extra rest.
This is the first of two meetings. Detroit will be San Antonio's first home game back after this long road trip. the teams split last season, each winning at home. The Spurs lost the one game in which Parker played against Detroit. Monroe played really well in the two games, averaging 21.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He's the team's most tradable asset only because Drummond is untouchable. The Cheeks firing could be the first domino in Detroit.
NBA Free Pick: Pistons +4.5. Detroit has covered its past four home games while the Spurs are only 2-6 ATS in their past eight after a win. Yes there's a chance the Pistons players mail it in after the Cheeks firing or it could light a fire. We think the latter as some players likely are going to be happy he's gone. Take the over. It's 8-1 in San Antonio's past nine against teams with a losing record and 6-1 in Detroit's past seven against teams with a winning record.