Now that the dust has settled following the trade deadline, the grind that is this Pistons season continues. Detroit made a move around the edges when they moved Delon Wright to the Sacramento Kings for Cory Joseph and a couple of second-round picks while Brooklyn stood pat despite a flurry of earlier Spencer Dinwiddie rumors.
As the roster currently stands, Detroit will be without Dennis Smith Jr., Killian Hayes, Jahlil Okafor and Joseph. It’s unclear what Joseph’s role will be with the team going forward. The Pistons were already light on shooting prior to the deadline, and Wright’s departure only compounds that fact.
For Brooklyn, they’ll be without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant and may be without James Harden. Durant’s missed 20 of their last 21 games, but the Nets haven’t skipped a beat. Throughout his absence, the Nets have won 14 of their last 17 games and currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn will have former Piston (and 2018 All-NBAer) Blake Griffin back in the lineup for tonight’s tip.
When: Friday, March 26, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
While Blake Griffin most likely won’t be the best player on court, he’s still worth keeping your eye on. This will be his first game against his former club, and that alone could bring something extra out of him as he looks to salvage his career with the loaded Nets.
And in case you missed it, he finally got the dunk monkey off his back when he had a flush for the first time in 464 days, in his first game in Brooklyn.
NO WAY.— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 22, 2021
Blake Griffin, who has not dunked since 2019, first bucket as a Brooklyn Net IS A DUNK
we have been bamboozled pic.twitter.com/l4hzz9AApa
Could he put up a similar performance at Little Caesars Arena to the one he had in his first game back at Staples Center? Impossible. That game he had 44 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. This season Griffin is averaging 12.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists on 37/31/70 shooting splits.
With that being said, it wouldn’t be irrational to think that he’ll have one of his best performances of the season. Players muster motivation, and while he shouldn’t have any ill-will for Detroit, that doesn’t mean he won’t do his all to stick it to his former team.
For Detroit, the question is who, other than Jerami Grant, is going to reliably put the ball in the basket? The Pistons most consistent second scorer is currently apartment hunting in Sacramento, which means Detroit will need to get solid wing production out of Saddiq Bey and at least one of the Jacksons should they want to keep up with the offensive juggernaut that is the Nets.
The Pistons currently don’t have a guy who averages more than 13 points per game, other than Jerami Grant. Their second leading scorer is Josh Jackson (13.1 ppg), and his shooting has fallen off a cliff over the past month and a half. Wayne Ellington has caught fire as of late, but he’s not someone who can create for himself off the dribble. And Saddiq Bey has the ability to score 17+ on any given night, but he’s been inconsistent with his production.
The Nets score, the Pistons don’t, and that might be the most simple formula to explain how this game might go. If the Pistons do find a way to win, it’ll most likely be due to the absence of Brooklyn’s big three.
Detroit Pistons (12-31)
Saben Lee, Wayne Ellington, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee
Brooklyn Nets (30-15)
James Harden, Bruce Brown Jr., Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Joe Harris, Jeff Green
Question of the Game
What will be Griffins’ stat-line tonight?