What do you do when two midwestern teams both have games postponed due to safety protocols and weather? You make lemonade out of lemons, and you jam together a quick little get together originally schedule for the second half of the season. That’s how we get today’s surprise matchup that pits the Detroit Pistons against the Chicago Bulls. The Pistons’ scheduled game against the Dallas Mavericks is postponed due to dangerously inclement weather roiling Texas while Chicago’s game against the Hornets was postponed after a Hornets’ recent opponent the Spurs had four players test positive for COVID-19. Detroit had its previous game against the Spurs postponed because of the same positive test results. Got all that? Oh, also, this is the first post Blake Griffin-era game in Detroit. Weird!
When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +2.5
Sorry, Pistons fans, instead of seeing Luka Doncic, you get to watch Coby White. Sorry, Bulls fans, instead of watching LaMelo Ball, you get to watch Delon Wright. This could make for an interesting game, however, as both teams are on a bit of a hot streak (grading on an extremely friendly, the East completely sucks as usual curve). Detroit has won three of its past four games with victories over the Nets, Celtics and Pelicans. The Bulls have won three of its past five games with wins over the Magic, Pelicans and Pacers. Things not going too well for Stan Van Gundy and the Pels, it seems.
This will also be Detroit’s first look at Chicago this season, and that means a closer look at Patrick Williams, the alleged apple of Troy Weaver’s eye who Detroit was hoping to draft at No. 7. Williams didn’t fall past Chicago at No. 4, however.
The rookie is averaging 27 minutes per game and performing respectfully with hints at the sort of growth Chicago is hoping to see as far as becoming an impact defender with a reliable 3-point shot and just enough bounce off the dribble to make him a dangerous offensive player.
The Bulls have some intriguing offensive options, but they just can’t seem to stay on the floor. Seems like a tale as old as time. Lauri Markkanen will be out several weeks with a shoulder sprain and Wendell Carter Jr is just returning for a nearly month-long absence with a quad injury.
Zach LaVine is the offensive engine, as usual, but he doesn’t have much firepower alongside him. He’s averaging 28.2 points per game on 19.5 shots, but the only other active player averaging double-digits shots is Cody White, and he’s hitting 40% from the floor and 35% from distance.
I’m hoping this is a game where Jerami Grant can get untracked a bit. Grant has had three of his lowest-scoring games of the season in the past three contests, scoring 9, 15 and 15 points, respectively on sub-30% shooting with a combined seven free throws across the three games.
The Bulls give up tons of clean looks and foul a ton. This could be a potential breakout game for a Grant or a Josh Jackson, and, hell, let’s see what reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week Saddiq Bey can do.
Detroit Pistons (8-19)
Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee
Chicago Bulls (11-15)
Coby White, Garrett Temple, Zach Lavine, Patrick Williams, Wendell Carter Jr
Question of the Game
Who is the biggest beneficiary of the Blake Griffin departure — Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Sekou Doumbouya or Svi Mykhailiuk?