In this young 2019-20 NBA season, the 14-7 Indiana Pacers and 8-14 Detroit Pistons have already played each other three times. Detroit won the first two matchups by nine and two points, respectively, then Indiana won the third matchup by six points.
Today the two teams will finish up their season series in Detroit by playing their fourth contest against each other (7 p.m. ET Friday).
Are the Pistons a bad matchup for the Pacers, or were the two Detroit wins flukes? Let’s discuss some major considerations that will play a role in deciding the outcome of the game. Then, as usual, we will conclude this preview with USAbetting’s Indiana Pacers vs Detroit Pistons predictions.
Is Pacers’ Bench Ready to Step Up Again?
For all the Pacers’ success this season, the team’s bench has been somewhat uneven. Indiana features mostly defensive-minded players or pure spot-up shooters on its bench. Justin Holiday, Aaron Holiday, T.J. McConnell, Doug McDermott, Edmund Sumner and T.J. Leaf have all had their moments, but none of them has been a consistent two-way presence for the reserve unit.
Case in point: in the Pacers’ two early losses to the Pistons, their bench had just 16 and 18 points on true-shooting percentages of 34.8 and 47.4, respectively, in the contests. In Indiana’s win, the reserves exploded for 51 points on a 76.1 true-shooting percentage.
In particular, I am looking for two or more of the Pacers’ reserves to provide a major positive impact in this game. Maybe it is McConnell’s slithery penetration, Aaron Holiday’s stingy defense or lights-out shooting from Doug McDermott. If none of those things happen, the Pistons should win.
Will Christian Wood Play Another Energetic Game Off the Bench?
It is pretty puzzling that Wood has never found a consistent rotation role in the NBA until this year. For his career, the 24-year-old big man is averaging 20 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes on a 61.6 true-shooting percentage. He is good at avoiding fouls, too.
Issues with Wood have apparently stemmed from his poor defensive awareness and maturity in the past. However, he and the Pistons have been a good match. Wood has played double-digit minutes in nine straight games, averaging an impressive 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds off the bench in those contests. He had 28 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Indiana has an interesting big man rotation where it likes to start both of its main post players (Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis) together, then stagger their minutes for the rest of the game so that one is on the floor at all times. The Pistons also have a strong tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Then Wood comes in to provide an energy lift for the squad.
Wood should be in good position to play another strong game, either against a tired starting big man from the Pacers or against an undersized frontcourt player that isn’t Turner or Sabonis.
Can Tony Snell Play a Solid Two-Way Game Against T.J. Warren?
When you think of the top scorers in the Eastern Conference, you probably think of guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal, Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker, established All-Star players who can lead an offense.
The Pacers’ Warren isn’t quite at the level of those guys, but his volume and efficiency as of late has him playing like an All-Star, at least as a scorer. Warren is averaging 22 points in 32.3 minutes per game on a true-shooting percentage of 72.1 in his last six contests, five of which were Indiana wins.
The Pistons will likely start Tony Snell across from Warren. He does very little outside of playing solid wing defense and hitting the occasional three-pointer. However, if Detroit is to win this game, he will have to play both of those roles against a difficult counterpart who has been excellent as of late.
Our Preview’s Indiana Pacers vs Detroit Pistons Predictions & Betting Picks
I do actually think the Pistons match up pretty well against the Pacers. Detroit has a big, strong frontcourt that can help neutralize the Pacers’ strong starting big man duo. The Pistons have versatile defensive-minded wings in Bruce Brown and Tony Snell who may not fare well against the league’s superstars, but they can hold their own against solid players like Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb.
The Pistons are 8-14, but they have an even point differential, which shows that they are better than they seem. The rivalry aspect of this game and the fact that the first three games of this season series have been somewhat surprising should mean the Pistons will play hard to win the season series. The Pacers will play hard to prove that the Pistons’ two earlier wins were flukes. Here are the Indiana Pacers vs Detroit Pistons predictions for this preview:
- The Pacers are favored by 2.5 points with the leading sports betting sites for USA players. I would recommend putting money on the Pistons +2.5pts @ best odds of -107 with BetOnline. It is -110 with Bovada and the others.
- Because of the motivations for these teams in this NBA game, I expect a lot of effort on defense, leading to a somewhat low-scoring game. Take the under 211.5 total points @ -110 with Bookmaker. It is under 211pts with the rest.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.