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Pistons vs. Bulls preview: Streaking Pistons face conference-leading Bulls

Detroit look to make it three wins in a row for first time since 2019

Detroit Pistons v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

A lot has changed since opening night when the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls meet for the first time. While Detroit has remained an Eastern Conference bottom-dweller, Chicago has exceeded expectations, emerged as a true contender and is current atop the Eastern Conference standings.

A 9-30 record is indicative of Detroit’s play to this point of the season, but fresh off a victory over the Utah Jazz, the 2022 Detroit Pistons currently hold a 4-2 record. Although the odds aren’t in Detroit’s favour, they seem to be in the midst of a their best stretch of basketball and should not be counted out of tonight’s game in Chicago.

Game Vitals

When: 8 p.m. ET
Where: United Center in Chicago, Illinois
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +13.5

Game Analysis

At the conclusion of the 2021 free agency period, a large portion of respected media members were not shy with their disapproval of the Demar DeRozan signing. The four-time All-Star inked a three-yr/$82M contract, with many deeming the deal a considerable over-pay. The skepticism seemed warranted as no one could have predicted the offensive explosion we’ve seen from DeRozan.

In his 13th season, the Compton native is posting his highest point total per game since 2017, averaging 26.4 points a night. While the scoring average is impressive, the way in which DeRozan is generating his points is what has him a potential starter in the All-Star game this year. It’s well-known by now that the former USC Trojan is a mid-range master. DeRozan makes his money in the mid-range by combining his high-release jumper and elusive foot-work, creating enough space to either hit the jumper or draw contact, getting him to the line.

DeRozan is flanked by another not too shabby shot creator in Zach LaVine, who also is putting up 26.2 points a night. The wing duo has quieted any concerns of the two not being able to co-exist, in fact they have a decent net rating of +5.2 when sharing the floor together. If you didn’t already know, the former UCLA product has one of the prettiest shot portfolios in the league. LaVine’s combination of sharp lateral movement and sheer athleticism allows him to create space when guarded by the league’s best. Like his running mate DeRozan, it appears LaVine is also heading to Ohio to represent the Bulls for his second All-Star appearance.

While Chicago is lead on offense by the aforementioned two-headed monster, perhaps the most surprising element about their play this season has been on the defensive side of the court. Coach Billy Donovan has done a fantastic job of integrating a defense that plays to his roster’s strengths whilst limiting its deficiencies. The Bulls’ defense is built upon the elite point-of-attack defense of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso with the aim of disrupting offensive flow and generating transition looks out of turnovers. While the Bulls have limited rim protection, their pesky perimeter defense does a great job of not allowing opposing shot creators access to the paint. Whilst Caruso is set to miss tonight’s game, expect surprise rookie Ayo Dosomu to step in and play solid defense for the home side.

For the visiting Pistons, a win tonight would give them their first three-game winning streak since the 2018-19 season. In order to pull off an impressive victory, they will need to carry over the energy they played with in the second half of the Utah Jazz game.

In the Jazz game, Cade Cunningham was able to lead the team back from a 22-point deficit by consistently driving to the rim and creating looks for himself and teammates. Cunningham’s drives played a big part in the Piston’s hot shooting from outside the arc, generating open looks for his peers:

Cunningham finished the night with a career-high 29 points and 8 assists. Cunningham’s points and assists combined to generate a total of 51 points for the team. After reviewing the film, it was encouraging to see that 23 of the 51 points generated, came from the star-rookie’s drives into the painted area.

Finally, there hasn’t been any additional news of a possible debut for the recently acquired Bol Bol. If not tonight, expect him to be in uniform for Friday’s matchup with the Toronto Raptors.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Bulls (26-11)

Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, Demar DeRozan, Derrick Jones Jr., Nikola Vucevic

Detroit Pistons (9-30)

Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Day

With his recent improved play what do you think Trey Lyles could fetch Detroit at the trade deadline?