clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pistons vs. Clippers preview: Detroit returns home after West Coast road trip

New, comments

Rest advantage favors the Pistons, but the talent gap is huge.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons return to Little Caesars Arena having won two of their five games on the recent West Coast road trip. That’s a solid result in a typical year, though it’s less ideal for the Pistons’ lottery odds. With the Orlando Magic within reach of the coveted third-worst record, Detroit has extra motivation to see additional minutes from their young players in a tough matchup.

The LA Clippers, on the other hand, have every motivation to win. They are three games up on the Denver Nuggets for the three seed in the Western Conference. And although Denver got horrific news recently with Jamal Murray’s ACL injury, the Clippers undoubtedly want to avoid the four seed and a potential first-round matchup with the LA Lakers.

The Clippers are playing their third game in four nights, while Detroit is coming off two days’ rest.

Game Vitals

When: 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Clippers -9

Analysis

The Clippers beat the Pistons 131-124 a few nights ago, but the lineups are likely to look a bit different.

Rodney McGruder and Dennis Smith Jr. are the only Pistons listed on the injury report, indicating that Detroit will have Killian Hayes and Jerami Grant available this time around.

Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverley are still out for tonight’s game, but Kawhi Leonard is listed as questionable after resting the past two games. The Clippers have had a tendency to rest one of Leonard or Paul George, especially when they don’t need both against weaker opponents. That probably influences this thought from a Clippers writer for The Athletic on tonight’s lineup:

No George would be a welcome sight for Detroit after he scored 32 points in their last game, but replacing that production with Kawhi Leonard is a luxury that exemplifies the talent gap between these two teams.

Normally, there might be some extra motivation for Detroit to win this game against so many former Pistons, but the roster turnover over the past year means that only Sekou Doumbouya and Wayne Ellington played in the Motor City with any of those Clippers.

Still, this Pistons team has proven throughout the year that they can keep games close just by virtue of playing hard on almost every night.

With a largely healthy roster tonight, we might begin to see what some of next year’s roster looks like while playing together. Lacking any real incentive to win games, Detroit is best served employing combinations that will be significant parts of the team moving forward.

How do Killian Hayes and Saben Lee look like together? Can Sekou Doumbouya have success with the ball in his hands a bit more? Is there potential for Isaiah Stewart to shift down to power forward for some minutes?

Now is the time to find out.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (16-38)

Cory Joseph, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee

LA Clippers (38-18)

Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac

Question of the Game

What do Sekou Doumbouya’s minutes look like with a healthier than normal roster?