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Pistons vs. Kings preview: Detroit looks to keep pace with lightning-quick Kings

If the Pistons can keep up with De’Aaron Fox, this game will be decided at the three-point line

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons are on the second night of a back to back and get to play the second-fastest team in the NBA, with maybe the fastest player in the NBA, in De’Aaron Fox. And they might be without their own lightning-quick point guard in Ish Smith.

Sounds fun.

Game Vitals

When: January 19, 7 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass


Did you know of players to play at least 25 games, the fastest player by average speed is Buddy Hield? And second is Glenn Robinson III?

Hield’s backcourt mate, Fox, is explosively quick, and it will be Detroit’s primary mission to try and contain Fox’s driving, which opens up open shooting opportunities for his teammates on the perimeter.

No team scores more points on the fastbreak than the Kings, while the Pistons rank fifth in opponent fastbreak scoring.

Despite some early success and excitement about what they are building, Sacramento has both a below average offense and below average defense. That is because while the Kings, who rank third in three-point shooting, only rank 21st in three-point attempt rate. The team also never gets to the free-throw line.

The Pistons will be without Andre Drummond, who suffered a nose injury last night against the Miami Heat. Ish Smith, who felt discomfort in his recently injured groin area, is questionable:

While it’d be nice to have Drummond on the floor to hoover up the endless amount of rebound opportunities that will surely be available today, Dwane Casey is going to have to decide if he wants Zaza Pachulia on the floor, who would have even more trouble keeping up with Kings players, or go with the much more spry Jon Leuer. Since Drummond is out altogether, how Casey juggles the minutes for those two reserves, or relies on Blake Griffin as a small-ball five will be interesting to watch.

The Kings also must focus most all of their attention on Fox and Hield; Fox as a driver and Hield as a catch-and-shoot sniper. Smith being questionable makes me shudder to think about Jose Calderon being on the floor, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce Brown gets the Fox assignment for stretches. His long arms could do a lot to stymie what Fox wants to do on the floor.

If the Pistons can contain Fox by limiting some driving lanes and not letting them get out on the break, and do what they always do and cut off the 3-point line then they will be successful on defense. On offense, I’m not sure the Kings have an answer for Blake Griffin, who missed the previous meeting between these two teams.

That would mean ... gasp ... a three-game winning streak. That hasn’t happened since a five-game winning streak that ended Dec. 1.

Projected Lineups

Detroit (20-24)
Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown Jr., Reggie Bullock, Blake Griffin, Zaza Pachulia

Sacramento (23-22)
De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Iman Shumpert, Nemanja Bjelica, Willie Cauley-Stein