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Pistons vs Warriors preview: Detroit starts road trip against the Splash Brothers

Pistons will play three games in four nights and four in six

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons visit the Golden State Warriors to begin a four-game West Coast road trip. The Pistons look to build on a strong 5-4 start to 2022 with another win against a top-tier opponent. Kelly Olynyk appears close to returning but is listed as questionable for the game. Frank Jackson and Jerami Grant are still listed as out.

The Warriors have lost five of their last seven games, including a loss two days ago against the Minnesota Timberwolves. That loss came without Stephen Curry who is expected back against Detroit. Golden State’s defensive anchor, Draymond Green, is out for at least a couple more weeks.

Game Vitals

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
When: Tuesday, January 18, 10 p.m. ET
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +15

Analysis

The Warriors enter the game boasting the No. 1 defense in the league, though that is largely fueled by Draymond Green who is the odds-on favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year. Without Green, the paint is patrolled by Kevon Looney who has played well, but is a clear step down.

That is good news for a Pistons team that ranks 11th in points in the paint over their recent nine-game stretch of solid play.

Those paint points are the product of Detroit’s ball handlers being more aggressive than they have all year. The Pistons’ young players looks more and more comfortable with the ball in their hands.

Cade Cunningham has been a stand out in that regard. The reigning No. 1 pick has shot 64% inside 8 feet in his last 10 games. He has corrected some of his baseline issues from earlier in the year, and is keeping his dribble live for longer and getting to the middle of the court far more often. When he does get to the paint, he’s been good at manipulating defenders and getting up quick, in-rhythm shots.

Killian Hayes has played well off Cunningham and has found some success collapsing defenses a bit while driving to his left. It still hasn’t manifested itself in the type of scoring you might like to see, but it has been positive for the team as a whole in creating secondary opportunities.

None of that will matter, however, if Detroit can’t slow down the Warriors’ offense.

The Splash Brothers are back and if they get going, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do. But Golden State’s offense has been vulnerable this season, ranking outside of the top 10. The Warriors’ turnover rate is the second-highest in the league.

Detroit has thrived over its recent stretch on points off turnovers. The Pistons are fifth in points off turnovers over the last nine games. They also rank fifth in second-chance points over that stretch.

The Pistons are a big underdog for a reason, but there are points of emphasis that can help Detroit keep the game close on the margins. If they don’t take advantage of those areas, it will be a very long night.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (10-32)

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

Golden State Warriors (31-12)

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Otto Porter, Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney

Question of the Game

Will we see Klay Thompson vs. Rodney McGruder minutes?