After a big win against the Boston Celtics, the Indiana Pacers are alive and well for the NBA post season. While the Detroit Pistons have not shot at the playoffs, they are more than happy to play a spoiler in this role.
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If nothing else, the Pistons might have invented a new position this season: the fourth-quarter closer.
The bizarre rotation patterns of coach John Kuester have turned some reserves into last-quarter specialists. Point guard Will Bynum played the entire fourth quarter against New York and Cleveland this month after sitting out the first three. Power forward Charlie Villanueva recorded a “save” Saturday when he scored 13 fourth-quarter points after watching the first three quarters.
Villanueva had been benched against the Cavaliers on Friday, his first DNP-Coach’s Decision this season, and was surprised when Kuester brought him in against the Pacers. Kuester explained that Villanueva was needed because Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox were resting sore knees. But Kuester’s late-game strategies have been unconventional all season. He often sticks with second-unit players during crunch time.
Taking care of the basketball doesn’t always translate to success. The Pistons have committed an average of 12.8 turnovers per game, the fewest in the league, yet are 21 games below .500. The other four teams among the top five in ball protection—the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Portland—are a combined 57 games over .500. The Pistons play some decent basketball but struggles off the court with chemistry have cost this team.
The Pistons are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games playing on 3 or more days rest and the Pacers are 2-7-2 ATS in their last 11 against the NBA Central.
The Pacers fall to the Pistons after beating the big time Celtics.
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