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Pistons vs. Magic: How to enjoy a tanking charade

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Both teams plan to sit up to eight players apiece

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Well, sitting up to sixteen players in a NBA game might look extreme. Even if it’s the end of the season, and it has become a widespread thing around the whole League this time of the year because losing teams don’t want to mess with their lottery odds and winning teams don’t want to mess with injury bug. Plus teams want to have their players rested for the battles in the playoffs. It’s especially demanding for us, the fans, because it leaves us watching games won by a 40, 50 or 60 point margin. Yea, the system has its flaws…

On the other hand, even if we forget for a moment about the tanking battle, there might be some good reasons for the Detroit Pistons not to fill the best roster for games like tonight’s one against Orlando Magic. And, by the same token, even if both teams will miss crucial players, the contest itself might be very enjoyable.

Game Vitals:

When: Monday, May 3, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
Odds: Det -2.0

Analysis:

It’ll be the third meeting between Detroit and Orlando. The teams split the World Series hosted by the Magic in late February. But both teams looked different then. Detroit’s schemes were moving around Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee, and Orlando’s around Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. Due to trades and injuries, both teams had point guards issues at that time.

Fast forward to today, and Detroit has no business on relying on Jerami and Mason… and other vets as well in the game. Orlando made a fire sale at the deadline, moving all three of their best non-injured players. And in these circumstances there’s simply no point in playing Grant because current Magic starter at the four, Mo Wagner, in his third year is trying to show that he’s worth to stay in the NBA. As such, he isn’t a match for a borderline All-Star like Jerami but for Sekou Doumbouya.

There might be more incentive to play Plumlee against Wendell Carter Jr., who has played himself into a post-rookie deal already. But at the moment Carter Jr. is still an opponent better suited for Isaiah Stewart than a Western Conference Finalist like Mason. So instead of watching a rout between Pistons vets and Magic youth, I’d rather see a competition between youngsters on both sides.

And this youthful competition should be spread beyond the power positions matchups thanks to teams sitting it’s older players. At the one spot, we’ll be able to see a battle between two rookies, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony (who had some fans in our Community before the draft), trying to show up in the NBA. With so many players out on both rosters, they’ll need to take matters into their own hands more. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle this task facing each other.

There will be a battle of sixth men, Frank Jackson and R.J. Hampton (who also was most wanted by some of us before the draft), which should be no less interesting. In fact, for now, it’ll be much more interesting than the one between Wayne Ellington and Terrence Ross. So should be a battle between reserve bigs, Pistons’ Tyler Cook and Magic’s Mo Bamba.

Tanking, not tanking, this time of the year, a duel between hungry young guns playing for their NBA future should be much more exciting than a duel between established old hands playing for nothing.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (19-45):
Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Sekou Doumbouya, Isaiah Stewart

Orlando Magic (20-44):
Cole Anthony, Gary Harris, Dwayne Bacon, Moritz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr.

Have a good game fellow DBBers!!! It still might be really enjoyable.