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Pistons at Hawks preview: Shorthanded Pistons aim to net first win in Atlanta

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Isaiah Stewart Time is now.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons are still in search for their first win after starting out their 2020-21 campaign with back to back disappointing losses. After failing to hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves in their season opener, they followed that performance up with a heartbreaking double overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.

Detroit led late in both contests, outscoring the Timberwolves for three and a half quarters but they were eventually outscored 31-16 in the fourth, and went on to lose 111-101. They also held a nine point lead in the first overtime against the Cavaliers; Cleveland immediately responded with a nineteen point run of their own, and finished off the Pistons in the second OT, 128-119.

The Pistons now face off against a 2-0 Atlanta Hawks team, who already hold some impressive double-digit wins after trouncing the Chicago Bulls by twenty in their season opener, and defeating the talented Memphis Grizzlies by ten this past Saturday.

Game Vitals:

When: Monday, December 28, 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

Game Analysis:

Detroit will need to find their winning ways without their two veteran leaders. Blake Griffin (left knee injury management) and Derrick Rose (rest) are officially listed as out for Monday night’s game. Jahlil Okafor, who has logged the majority of the backup center minutes this season, is also listed as questionable due to a right ankle sprain that he suffered in the fourth quarter against the Cavaliers.

Their absences could provide an opportunity for some of Detroit’s youth to see extended time on the floor. Through the first two games, Detroit rookie Saddiq Bey has only played six minutes total, and Isaiah Stewart and Saben Lee have yet to log any time on the hardwood. Should Sekou Doumbouya suit up (listed as probable with right foot soreness), he may also expect to see some extended burn on Monday night. The second-year player, who has looked good throughout the preseason and start to the regular season, has only averaged eleven minutes per game in Detroit’s first couple of games this year.

Head coach Dwane Casey has elected for Rose over Killian Hayes in crunch time in Detroit’s first two games. As stated earlier, Detroit completely fell apart once those games came to a close. But even though the rookie point guard has struggled throughout the start of the season, he should be the beneficiary of a shortened point guard rotation on Monday night.

One would hope with a longer leash, Hayes will be able to take advantage and string together a solid overall performance. He hasn’t looked sharp out the gate - the rookie is only averaging 5 points per game on 31% from the floor and 20% from three. He’s also looked frustrated and lost at times, which has lead to some costly turnovers and extended time on the pine.

As for the Atlanta Hawks, they’ve been led by their young All-Star Trae Young. who’s averaging an unsustainable, yet spectacular 36.5 points, 8.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 56% from the floor and 46% from deep.

The Hawks currently boast a top-10 rated offense (117 points scored per 100 possessions) and defense (102.7 points allowed per 100 possessions) through the initial returns of the new season. Their young core has all been put in position to produce on a nightly basis, and throughout the beginning of the season, they’ve delivered.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit Pistons (0-2)
Killian Hayes, Delon Wright, Svi Mykhailiuk, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee

Atlanta Hawks (2-0):
Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins

Question of the Game:

Over/under 9.5 points for Killian Hayes tonight?