The last time the Detroit Pistons faced the Dallas Mavericks is so instructive of an awful past, that maybe it brings clarity into how much better the present is and how bright the future could be.
The last time the Pistons faced the Mavericks was for a “home” game in Mexico City, Mexico, with 20,000-plus fans screaming their love for Luka Doncic. But, hey, at least it was a way to artificially boost the home attendance numbers of one of the least-watched teams in the NBA.
The last time the Pistons faced the Mavericks was the last time that Blake Griffin dunked a basketball in a Detroit uniform. He does it semi-regularly now as a member of the Brooklyn Nets with all that open runway space.
The last time the Pistons faced the Mavericks, the team leaders in shots were 31-year-old Griffin and 31-year-old Derrick Rose. They combined to shoot 1-of-26. and were a team-worst -18 and -17, respectively.
The last time the Pistons faced the Mavericks, the only Pistons 22 or younger to get minutes were Svi Mykhailiuk (12) and Thon Maker (1), and they combined for 2 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.
The last time the Pistons faced the Mavericks, Detroit lost (duh) 122-111 behind a 41-point triple-double from Doncic.
Every Piston to get minutes in that game is now gone, and the Pistons have eight players 22 or younger and four more that are 23 years old. A loss is likely, but there is just so much more to get excited about these days.
When: 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit+
Odds: Pistons +10.5
Even with all that youth on Detroit’s roster, plenty of it will be unavailable tonight, unfortunately. The Pistons are sitting out Killian Hayes with a game tomorrow against the Spurs. Sekou Doumbouya, who has missed the past couple games while in concussion protocol is not listed on the injury report and could see some time on the floor. Then there is Deividas Sirvydis who is more a hypothetical player than actual player.
But there is plenty of youth worth paying attention to in Detroit, including two players fighting to be on the All-Rookie team in Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey. Bey is near the top of the record books for 3-point shooting in his inaugural season, and Stewart continues to impress as he leads qualified rookies in rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage.
Then there is the question of how scorching hot Frank Jackson can be from the 3-point line. The 22-year-old journeyman is hitting 42.4% of his 3s in his past 20 games on more than four attempts per contest. He continues to look like a piece the Pistons will be interested in bringing back next season as an easy replacement for veteran Wayne Ellington.
Conversely, I’ll be interested in Hamidou Diallo who has not popped lately in the Pistons lineup. Like Jackson, he’s a pending restricted free agent, only he looks like he’ll be much more expensive to retain. Give me a reason to love you again, Hami!
Detroit Pistons (18-40)
Cory Joseph, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee
Dallas Mavericks (30-26)
Luka Doncic, Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis
Question of the Game
Will the Dallas Mavericks make it out of the first round of the playoffs?