But their depth and energy off the bench led them past the champions 111-102 in front of a raucous Little Caesars Arena.
Key to the Pistons taking control of the game was the blossoming Stanley Johnson who has thrived since coming off the bench. He scored 19 points and added seven rebounds as well as played his usual tough-nosed defense.
Ish Smith added 11 points and his usual energy while Langston Galloway added 8 points.
It was the first game back for Steph Curry and he struggled early on as did the rest of the Warriors. Both Curry and Kevin Durant started cooking in the second half and you'd be forgiven if you thought Detroit was going to give up the lead for good.
But every time Golden State punched, Detroit punched back. Either through big baskets from Blake Griffin (26 points) or Reggie Jackson (17 points) or a huge rebound from Andre Drummond (16 points, 19 rebounds).
Detroit stretched their lead to 14 in the third and saw it cut down to 4 before the end of the quarter. But Ish Smith zipped down the floor with 5.7 seconds left, cutting through the defense for a clear path to the paint. He could have gone for a layup but kicked out to an open Johnson in the corner who drained a 3 with 0.7 seconds left to stretch the lead to 7. It was that kind of night for Detroit.