The Detroit Pistons return home to face the surging Brooklyn Nets after a disappointing road loss to bottom dweller counterparts; the New Orleans Pelicans. With reports of James Harden being out (rest), Detroit will look to snap an 11-game losing streak. So far, it is the seventh-worst winless streak in franchise history and worst since 2014. . However, they will have to do so without the services of their leading scorer Jerami Grant who injured his right hand against the Pelicans and now reportedly has torn ligaments in his thumb.
When: 6 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +9.5
It’s no secret that Detroit currently ranks as the worst team in the association, boasting a league worst 11-game losing streak. Upon returning home from a disappointing road loss in New Orleans, it appeared the struggling Piston’s had caught a break with the Brooklyn Nets deciding to rest guard, James Harden:
The Nets say they will rest James Harden in Detroit on Sunday.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) December 11, 2021
However, a mere 5-hours later, the Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the below:
Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant has suffered torn ligaments in his right thumb and will be out indefinitely, sources tell me and @JLEdwardsIII. Grant is averaging 20.1 points and 4.8 rebounds this season.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 12, 2021
Yikes...prepare yourself for some rough viewing for the foreseeable future.
Jerami Grant’s play this season has been a source of frustration for many amongst the fan base however, he’s still lead the team in scoring with 20.1 points a night. Anytime a team loses their leading scorer its a challenge to replace their productivity, in the case of Detroit, Grant’s 20.1 points per game provide 20% of the team’s points per game. Expect, Detroit to overtake the Oklahoma City Thunder as the leagues worse offense in the coming weeks without Grant.
With injury comes opportunity and Detroit’s high-flying wing, Hamidou Diallo, is primed to soak up a sizable portion of the Grant minutes. After a slow start to the season, Diallo has asserted himself as the first wing off the bench in Coach Dwayne Casey’s rotation. Diallo’s strong play dates back to the first game of the current 11-game losing streak, where he provided 10 points and 5 rebounds off the bench against the Golden State Warriors.
Amidst an historically bad 11-game losing streak, the former Kentucky Wildcat has provided fans with flashes of hope, posting 8.6ppg and 4.0rpg in 18 minutes of action. Diallo provides the Piston’s with much needed rim pressure and rebounding. As per Cleaning the Glass, Diallo ranks in the 86th percentile for rim finishing, scoring on 72% of attempts at the cup. He also ranks in the 99th (!) percentile for offensive rebounding percentage amongst wings, collecting 6.7% of Detroit misses. With the loss of Grant, it’s a safe bet to assume Diallo steps into the starting line-up...or is it?
The loss of Grant could also help the struggling Saddiq Bey find his rhythm within the offense. With Grant out of the line-up, Saddiq has seen a major uptick in scoring throughout his brief career. In 19 games without Grant, Bey has averaged 16.6 points per game, a 4 point increase from his career average of 12.5. In the sole game this season Grant was absent, Bey put up an impressive 21 points on 50% shooting against the Atlanta Hawks.
If he wasn’t already, Cade Cunningham will now undoubtedly be the focus of every NBA defense for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, it appears Cunningham is starting to figure things out as a scorer in the NBA. After a tough handful of games to start his career, Cunningham has slowly began improving his efficiency as a scorer. In his past 5 games, the star-rookie is averaging 22/5/4 on shooting splits of .472/.500/.818.
As it pertains to Sunday’s game, Brooklyn enters Detroit fresh off an impressive road win against the streaking Atlanta Hawks. Brooklyn hasn’t been without line-up issues of their own, injuries, poor-play and vaccination status have resulted in an array of different starting line-ups for the conference leaders.
Amid rotational flux, Kevin Durant’s MVP-caliber play has remained the sole constant, propelling the Nets to an Eastern Conference-leading record of 18-8. With Harden out of the line-up, Durant will assume the role of primary ball handler. Expect a heavy dose of pick and pop action between Durant and Aldridge, as per Synergy Sports, Durant averages 1.067 points per possession (PPP) as a pick and roll ball handler:
Aldridge has been deadly out of pick and pop scenarios averaging 1.169 PPP on 57% shooting, as per Synergy Sports. Brooklyn’s first round selection from the most recent draft, Cam Thomas, is a player to keep your eye on. With Joe Harris out of the line-up, Thomas has seen an increase in minutes and is averaging 14.5 points off the bench in his past two games. The former LSU Tiger was an incredible shot-maker and scorer at the college level and could be one of the steals of the 2021 NBA Draft if he is able to reach his potential.
If Detroit are to have any chance of defeating Brooklyn they will need to perform in the third quarter. It should come as no surprise that Detroit currently rank dead last in the league for third quarter scoring, averaging a measly 22.7 points. Throughout the current 11-game losing streak, the Piston’s have been outscored by -41 points with shooting splits of .403/.309/.743. To make matters worse, they have given the ball away to their opponent, on average, 4.7 times within the third quarter. In simple terms, Detroit struggle to contain possession and when they have possession, they aren’t a threat to score...not a great combination.
The Piston’s desperately need a win for a variety of reasons; firstly, they are 4 losses away from breaking the single-season franchise record of 14 losses, set at the end of the 1979-1980 season. Secondly, the players need a win to restore faith in themselves and the coaching staff. Finally, Dwayne Casey desperately needs a win, while he received an extension over the summer, it would not be a great look for the coach and front office to break the franchise’s single season losing streak, set 40 years ago. So with that, let’s hope the Piston’s can catch the Harden-less Nets off-guard as they play their final game of a 4-game road trip.
Brooklyn Nets (18-8)
Patty Mills, Bruce Brown, Deandre’ Bembry, Kevin Durant, Lamarcus Aldridge
Detroit Pistons (4-21)
Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart
Question of the Day
With the news of Jerami Grant’s thumb injury and the Pistons seemingly doomed, what is the most depressing Piston’s line-up you have seen take the floor during your fandom?
I’ll get the ball rolling with a line-up from the 2013-2014 season; Peyton Siva, Rodney Stuckey, Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe