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Pistons vs. Spurs preview: Undermanned Pistons emerge from the holiday in shorthanded fashion

Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson look to lead Luka Garza and the Motor City Cruise to an NBA win

Detroit Pistons v New York Knicks Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

If you thought the Pistons were undermanned on Thursday in Miami, wait until you get a look at Detroit’s active roster today against the San Antonio Spurs.

Already down a number of key players, James Edwards of The Athletic announced this morning that Cory Joseph and Josh Jackson would be joining the already hefty number of Pistons entered into the NBA’s COVID health and safety protocols. Trey Lyles, who had a career game against the Heat, entered protocols yesterday.

Playing their first game post-Christmas, this Pistons team should be nearly unrecognizable from the opening day roster in tonight’s matchup with the Spurs.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Spurs -10

Game Analysis

In addition to Kelly Olynyk (knee) and Jerami Grant (hand) who are out with their respective injuries, below is a list of Pistons who are in COVID protocols and will miss tonight’s game:

Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saben Lee, Rodney McGruder, Trey Lyles, Cory Joseph, and Josh Jackson.

For those keeping count, that’s 10 inactive Pistons who have been integral parts of Dwane Casey’s rotations at some point in the season.

So, who do the Pistons have, you ask?

As Edwards noted, barring any late-game cancellations, Detroit will roll out a lineup consisting of Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo, Frank Jackson, and a bunch of G-League guys.

Luka Garza has had at least a little bit of NBA playing time before the Pistons’ COVID hardship. He will presumably take on a starting role tonight. Cheick Diallo and Jamorko Pickett saw spot minutes in their first NBA action against Miami. Hopefully, second-round pick Isaiah Livers, who missed Thursday’s game due to return to competition reconditioning, can give it a go today.

Outside of that, we know the Pistons signed Derrick Walton Jr. and Cassius Stanley to 10-day hardship contracts, per The Athletic’s Shams Charnia’s tweet yesterday. Walton may be thrust into the starting point guard role, while Stanley will surely be called upon to contribute some bench minutes.

Any other Pistons suiting up tonight will have to be pregame hardship signings that have not yet been announced. By my count, that leaves nine Pistons (including Livers) currently set to take the court tonight.

At the very least, we can expect to get an extended look at some of the young guys that would not otherwise see these NBA minutes. Otherwise, fans tuning into the game should anticipate some career highs being reached, and surely some questionable basketball being played.

The Spurs have been creeping up the Western Conference standings after a shaky start to the year. San Antonio sports a 13-18 record overall, and has won five of their last 10 games. They will be without their breakout point guard Dejounte Murray, who Shams announced earlier today has entered COVID protocols and will miss tonight’s matchup.

Murray is the team’s leading scorer, which would mean increased touches for Derrick White (14.4 ppg), Keldon Johnson (15.0 ppg) and Jakob Poeltl (12.0 ppg). The Spura’ active roster will also feature prominent role players in Thaddeus Young, Lonnie Walker, Doug McDermott and Devin Vassell.

Any semblance of a competitive game resembling Detroit’s admirable effort against the Heat would be a welcome sight this evening. Fans of Luka Garza minutes will presumably be the biggest winner tonight.

Projected Lineups

San Antonio Spurs (13-18)
Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV, Doug McDermott, Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl

Detroit Pistons (5-26)
Derrick Walton Jr., Frank Jackson, Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey, Luka Garza

Question of the Day

Will any G-League guys capitalize on these minutes to make a name for themselves with the Pistons?