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Pistons vs. Rockets preview: Victor Oladipo leads undermanned Rockets into Detroit

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Former Piston Christian Wood out with ankle injury

NBA: Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets have taken on new identities this season. Houston, a team accustomed to 50+ win seasons for the better part of the last decade, may not have expected their path to change this dramatically this quickly, but they had an unhappy superstar in James Harden and decided to cut bait before things reached a Chernobyl-level of toxicity.

When you move on from your franchise player the losses usually start to pile up. And that’s exactly what’s happened for the Rockets, who have lost three of their last four games and are currently in 14th place in the Western Conference.

For the Pistons, well, you know the deal. They’re the worst team in the league, sitting with a 3-11 record, and are coming off a stomach-churning loss to the Atlanta Hawks, where they led by 17 points in the final frame. No bueno.

Game Vitals

When: Friday, January 22, 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

Analysis

You’ll most likely ask yourself “who’s that guy?” when watching this Houston Rockets team, as they’ll be without most of their marquee names.

It’s unfortunate that Houston won’t be able to showcase their star big-man, and former Detroit Piston, Christian Wood as he’s been fantastic all season long, having averaged nearly 24 points and 11 boards per game this year.

They’ll have to rely heavily on the newly acquired Victor Oladipo, who landed in Houston following the James Harden trade. Oladipo has put together an impressive season after an uninspiring showcase in the Orlando Bubble last year. Since joining the Rockets, he’s averaged 27 points per game, and while that may be a small sample size (just two games), Oladipo has consistently performed all season long to the tune of 21 points, 5.5 boards and 4.8 assists per game.

For Detroit, they’ll lean on Jerami Grant, as they do every night. Grant would likely be an All-Star if he weren’t playing on a team that’s eight games under .500. But should he continue this level of production - 25 points, 6 rebounds on 47% shooting from the floor and 39% from three - he may end up earning the Most Improved Player award once the season is all said and done.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (3-11)
Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, Jerami Grant, Blake Griffin, Mason Plumlee

Houston Rockets (4-9)
Victor Oladipo, Eric Gordon, Jae’Sean Tate, PJ Tucker, DeMarcus Cousins

Community Question

Over/under 10.5 minutes for Sekou Doumbouya?