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Pistons vs. Kings preview: Struggling Kings travel to face improving Pistons

The easier portion of the Pistons opening schedule continues against a Kings team on a losing streak.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons still have a long way to go offensively, but there were a lot of encouraging signs in Saturday’s win against the Toronto Raptors. The Pistons have an opportunity to keep that progress going against a Kings team that is weak defensively.

After spending their last three games on the road, the Pistons get to return home for a little home cooking this week.

Game Vitals

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
When: 7 p.m. ET
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +4.5

Game Analysis

This game features two teams with different expectations for this season heading in different directions. For the Kings, they are supposed to be competing for the playoffs, but they find themselves sitting at 5-8 and on a four-game losing streak.

For the Pistons, they are clearly rebuilding, but have won two of their last three after a brutal early-season schedule that saw them face a slew of contenders from the Eastern Conference.

On paper, the Kings have a better roster than the Pistons. They are able to score the ball, but even with the pick of Davion Mitchell in the draft (Defensive Players of the Year for 2021 in college), their defense still struggles. They currently sit at 21st in the league in Defensive Rating, which is better than last season, but still not great.

The Kings leading scorer this season has been Harrison Barnes, who is off to a career season in the early parts of this season.

They are currently fifth in the league in points per game, but their offensive rating is only 20th in the league. They are scoring a lot, but not doing it very efficiently. Combine that with a subpar defense and you have a recipe for another lottery season.

Maybe things will turn around for the Kings soon. They have a pretty good starting lineup led by De’Aaron Fox and the previously mentioned Barnes. They also have Richaun Holmes, who has developed into a solid starting center. They also have Davion Mitchell and Buddy Hield off the bench. That isn’t enough talent to compete in the West, but I think it’s enough to be better than they currently are.

For the Pistons, they played their best game of the season on Saturday against the Toronto Raptors. They scored a season high 124 points and 15 threes. They shot 54 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc, both season-highs. Now it is all about building off of that and stringing together a few games of solid shooting in order to try to get things back on track offensively.

The Kings are a good team to do that against as they play fast and their defense will allow for a lot of open shots. That typically hasn’t meant much for the Pistons this season, but it did on Saturday.

The Pistons matchup pretty well with the Kings. Richaun Holmes and Isaiah Stewart are both smaller centers that bully their way to the rim. Jerami Grant has the athleticism and defensive chops to keep up with Harrison Barnes, and the Pistons backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes should be able to contain Tyrese Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox.

It goes without saying, but if the Pistons hit their shots, they have a good shot in this game.

Projected Lineups

Sacramento Kings (5-8)

De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Chimezie Metu, Richaun Holmes

Detroit Pistons (3-9)

Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Game

Was Saturday night’s game a sign of things improving offensive for the Pistons or just a good night where everything clicked?