The Detroit Pistons are experiencing one of their worst stretches of the season, but their upcoming schedule could spark a turnaround.
The Pistons look to get back on track Tuesday when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers—the first of four consecutive opponents well below .500.
Detroit (19-12) has dropped four of its last five games, including a 106-89 defeat to Chicago on Saturday when it shot a season-low 34.8 percent (31-for-89). Richard Hamilton, the Pistons leading scorer, had 27 points and is averaging 31.6 over the last five games—8.8 more than his season average—but forwards Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace were held to eight points apiece.
Prince is third in scoring at 14.9 ppg and Wallace is fourth at 12.2 ppg.
Detroit’s offense also has struggled without second-leading scorer Chauncey Billups, who is expected to miss his fourth straight game Tuesday with a strained right calf. Billups is averaging 18.0 points and a team-best 8.1 assists this season.
“We missed Chauncey out there,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “Chauncey is one of the best post feeders in the league. We didn’t find ways to get our big guys the ball. We did some things and adjusted and we got some open shots but we didn’t knock them down.”
The Pistons have had little problem hitting their shots against Philadelphia (9-24) as they have won four consecutive matchups and nine of the last 10. Prince recorded 25 points and six assists while Wallace had 21 points and 11 rebounds in a 97-87 win over the 76ers on Nov. 21.
Following this matchup, Detroit faces Charlotte, Atlanta and Boston with those four teams boasting a combined 40-89 record.
“These next couple are definitely win-able games,” Hamilton said. “But we’ve got to play better than we played (Saturday).”
The Pistons are concluding a three-game road swing against a Philadelphia squad playing at home for the first time since Dec. 23. The 76ers went 2-5 on a season-high seven-game road trip, losing the finale to Minnesota on Friday, 104-102, on Kevin Garnett’s buzzer-beater in overtime.
“We got down nine points in the fourth quarter with like 3 or 4 minutes left, and we fought our way back, giving ourselves a chance to win the game,” said Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks, whose squad is the only team in the last 50 years to play 22 of its first 33 games of the season on the road. “So, the effort that we put on the floor was tremendous. We just have to learn to finish those games.”
Sixers reserve Kyle Korver scored 25 points off the bench while starting guard Andre Iguodala recorded 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Andre Miller notched 18 points and 11 assists, continuing his strong play since being acquired Dec. 19 as part of the trade that sent Allen Iverson to Denver.
Miller is averaging 15.9 points, 8.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds in eight games with Philadelphia. He’ll try to help the Sixers (9-24) reach 10 wins after it took just 21 games to reach that mark last season.
They’ll have to do it without Chris Webber, who despite returning to practice Monday, said he isn’t planning on playing after missing five straight games with a bruised right foot. The veteran forward, who has been sidelined nine of the last 12 contests with foot and ankle injures, has been unhappy with his playing time and said he didn’t know if he’d ever play for Philadelphia again.