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Pistons a Bad Bet Until Andre Drummond Returns

Portland point guard Damian Lillard will win the NBA's Rookie of the Year award this season, which will be a loss for the book, but a case could be made that Detroit center Andre Drummond is the most important first-year player in the Association to his team.

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The 19-year-old Drummond doesn't have huge numbers, averaging 7.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 19.7 minutes per game. However, since he went out with a stress fracture in his lower back, the Pistons are 5-13 and enter this week on an eight-game losing streak (2-6 ATS). Detroit has been getting killed on the boards without Drummond, who grabs an average of 21.6 percent of available rebounds. The team has been outrebounded in 15 of those 18 games Drummond has missed.

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In the current losing streak entering Monday night's game against Brooklyn, the Pistons have allowed triple-digits in seven of them while scoring 100 themselves only once (5-3 over/under). Drummond was originally ruled out for 4-6 weeks with the injury, and the four-week mark already has been passed. There's really no reason for the team to rush him back because it's lottery-bound regardless.

The Pistons won't make any waves this season but could be poised to take a big leap next year with a healthy Drummond and plenty of money to spend this summer.

Knicks Dropping on Futures

The New York Knicks finished their five-game road trip Monday night at Utah and no doubt the team can't wait to get home after losing the first four games out West. Carmelo Anthony has missed the past two games with an ankle injury he believes will affect him all season, and he wasn't expected to play Monday.

The Knicks, who won't have Amare Stoudemire the rest of the regular season, are now in danger of not only coughing up the Atlantic Division lead to Brooklyn but also perhaps of falling out of the top four in the East and thus losing home-court advantage in the playoffs. The Knicks have signed big man Kenyon Martin for the rest of the season to help offset Stoudemire's absence. New York has dropped to 25/1 to win the NBA Finals and 12/1 to win the Eastern Conference.

This Week or Never For Rose?

The Chicago Bulls open their longest remaining homestand of the season on Monday night against scorching-hot Denver, and the news on Derrick Rose's possible return remain the same: there is no news.

Rose has been physically cleared to play off his ACL surgery but isn't mentally there yet. He recently said he isn't sure he will return this season. Some have argued for the Bulls to keep him out since it's unlikely they can beat the Miami Heat this season in the playoffs even with a healthy Rose. Chicago has 17 games remaining starting Monday night. It's going to take Rose several weeks to get back into game shape and in sync with his teammates. Presuming the team wants Rose to debut at home, this week would be the best time for it to happen. After hosting the Nuggets on Monday, Chicago faces Portland and Indiana before traveling to Minnesota on Sunday.

The Timberwolves are a good barometer on how to handle Rose. Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio tore his ACL about six weeks before Rose did last season and Rubio has been playing since mid-December. The Spaniard started slowly and wasn't allowed to play in the second of back-to-backs at first but has since rounded into his excellent rookie form and doesn't have any limitations. Rubio is averaging 14.6 points, 8.2 assists and 6.3 rebounds this season.

Mavericks Fail in Big Games

Last week the book examined the chances of the Dallas Mavericks to make a late-season push and sneak into the playoffs as the West's No. 8 seed. Those chances took a big hit with losses to San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Losing to the top teams in the conference is nothing new for the Mavericks, who are now four games behind the Lakers for the final playoff spot.

Sunday's 107-101 defeat to the Thunder dropped Dallas to 1-12 against the West's current top four seeds this season: Spurs, Thunder, Clippers and Grizzlies. No player has failed more than O.J. Mayo in those games. He leads the team in averaging 16.8 points this season but is averaging just 10.6 points in those 13 games, shooting 35.2 percent overall and 14.6 percent from long range. Dallas has been outscored by a whopping by 128 points with Mayo on the floor in those 13 games.

The Mavs also likely lost guard Rodrigue Beaubois for the rest of the season after he fractured his finger in Sunday's loss. Dallas' game Wednesday against Brooklyn will have live play-by-play betting at the book.

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