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Preview: Warriors (33-6) vs. Pistons (18-22)

Can Golden State sustain positive momentum and finish off Detroit in the teams’ final meeting of the season?

Golden State Warriors v Detroit Pistons
Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant celebrate a made basket against the Pistons in Auburn Hills, Michigan on December 23, 2016.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Game information

Golden State Warriors (33-6) vs. Detroit Pistons (18-22)

How to watch

Date: Thursday January 12, 2017

Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

Time: 7:30 p.m. PST

TV: TNT; CSN Bay Area

Radio: 95.7 THE GAME

Team comparison

Injury report

Last updated 9:00pm on 1/11/17

Warriors: No injured players

Pistons: Jon Leuer, Michael Gbinije

Tonight, the Warriors and Pistons face off for the final game of a two-game season series. At the first meeting on December 23rd, Golden State defeated Detroit 119-113. Kevin Durant dropped a game-high 32 points and Draymond Green contributed a game-high 10 rebounds and 12 assists, for a double-double.

Prior success against the Pistons and strong play since the recent drubbing by Memphis should be considered reasons for caution rather than reasons for coasting. The Warriors need to be locked in at tipoff because it is games against lesser teams that can be the undoing of top-ranked squads.

Golden State does not have room to rest on its laurels.

Improvements down the stretch?

If the Warriors are smart, they won’t let the Pistons’ 18-22 record fool them. Detroit has won recent games against Cleveland, Miami, Charlotte and Portland. Sure, LeBron James rested in the Pistons’ December 26th win over the Cavaliers (apparently tired from his rim acrobatics on Christmas Day) — but a win is a win.

Detroit is a high-scoring team that has demonstrated the ability to squeak out close wins. Against Charlotte on January 5th, Detroit edged out the Hornets in a 115-114 victory. On January 8th against the Trail Blazers in Portland, the Pistons grinded out a 125-124 overtime win.

What emboldens Golden State for this contest is a 17-3 home record. Detroit, on the other hand, is a pitiful 8-13 at away games. But a squad looking to stave off humiliation can be a fierce fighting team. The Pistons want to pull the wins-losses columns even, and a victory over the NBA’s top-ranked team would give them a B12 injection-level confidence boost.

With Golden State’s fourth-quarter collapse to Memphis still fresh in everyone’s minds, the game against Detroit might turn out to be an important test of the Warriors’ fourth-quarter improvements (or lack of improvements). The Pistons will be looking to scrap to the final second. Are the Warriors similarly motivated? More importantly, can they execute effectively down the stretch?

Any late-game, close-quarter scrapping that Detroit has managed to pull off thus far is not guaranteed for future games. Detroit blew an 18-point lead against Sacramento on Tuesday, for a 100-94 loss. This, of course, is excellent news for the Warriors. But Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy was not happy about his team blowing a significant lead to the Kings. With lots to prove, he will definitely be looking to guide Detroit to a string of wins before All-Star Weekend.

No rest for the weary?

Not on Coach Steve Kerr’s watch.

Klay Thompson played two games while battling illness recently, resulting in Kerr’s decision to rest the Splash Brother for Tuesday’s game at home against Miami. Kerr stated after the win that he is not necessarily finished resting starters, either.

With the season in its “dog days,” the final six weeks leading into the All-Star Break, Kerr is on the lookout for guys who might need a night off. He won’t try to predict or schedule player breaks as he has in the past, but make judgment calls based on observation.

“I can’t predict it, but I can say there are certain times when you’re worn down,” Kerr said. “If I see that with someone else, I’ll sit that guy, too.”

So, although no players for Golden State are listed on the injury report for tonight’s game, it is probable that Kerr could rest one or more dog-tired players.

Tamryn’s predictions

Score: Warriors 104 – 91 Pistons

High Scorers: Kevin Durant (GSW) and Reggie Jackson (DET)

What will be the outcome of tonight’s game?

Follow Tamryn Spruill on Twitter

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