The baby Detroit Pistons will once again see the floor tonight as seven players have already been ruled out against the also bad Cleveland Cavaliers. Call it finding times for the young guys or call it blatant tanking. Whatever it is, it’s probably going to be some ugly basketball tonight.
The saving grace for the Pistons tonight, as it has been for almost every game this season is that one of the rookies usually manages to do something impressive with their minutes on the court.
When: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +2.5
There are plenty of players not suiting up tonight, so let's get that out of the way. The following players are out: Jerami Grant (quad contusion), Mason Plumlee (rest), Cory Joseph (bronchitis), Wayne Ellington (rest), Dennis Smith Jr. (knee soreness), Rodney McGruder (elbow sprain). Missing for the Cavs will be Larry Nance Jr. (personal reasons), Dylan Windler (knee), Damyean Dotson (knee).
Importantly, Killian Hayes is back in the lineup joining his three fellow rookies Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Saben Lee. Leaving aside some potential minutes for grizzled veteran Jahlil Okafor, there is a good chance the most senior player to get minutes for Detroit will be third-year player Josh Jackson. Wild.
The Cavs have been a mess pretty much all season because they don’t really have a functional offense. It’s seriously pretty ugly. They have the 29th ranked offense only because the Thunder packed in the season a couple of weeks ago and struggles to crack 90.
Things were getting a little better, though. If you look at their past seven games (3-4), the Cavs look like the old-school Warriors. While their offensive rating for the season is a pitiful 104.9, in the past seven it’s a blistering 113.9. They actually have a +2.5 net rating in that span.
Sexland is leading the way with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland combining for 48.7 points on 36.6 shots per game in the team’s last seven. The next most prolific scorers are big men Jarrett Allen and Kevin Love who are each at around 14 points per game.
It’ll be a good test case for Killian Hayes, who has been pretty damn good on defense and able to generate tons of steals with quick hands against sloppy ball handling. It could also finally, mercifully, be a bit of a breakout game for Hayes offensively going against a subpar defensive backcourt sure to get the lion’s share of the minutes.
I’ll also be intrigued by the rookie battles between Isaac Okoro and Saddiq Bey. They might not be matched up against each other to start the game, but I imagine they’ll find themselves near each other plenty.
Detroit Pistons (17-40)
Saben Lee, Frank Jackson, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart
Cleveland Cavaliers (20-36)
Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, Kevin Love, Jarrett Allen
Question of the Game
If you redid the NBA Draft, do any of the Detroit Pistons rookies get taken ahead of Isaac Okoro?