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Pistons vs. Kings preview: Detroit heads to Sacramento looking for redemption on second night of back-to-back

Detroit looks to rebound against a scuffling Kings team

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons visit the Sacramento Kings on the second night of a back-to-back. Detroit lost resoundingly a night ago to the Golden State Warriors and looks to rebound against a decidedly less formidable opponent.

Killian Hayes’ status is in doubt after he left the Warriors game with a hip contusion. Kelly Olynyk is expected to re-join the Pistons on the road trip but as of this writing Detroit has not published an injury report.

The Kings are largely at full strength, though they will be without second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton who is in health and safety protocols. Sacramento has lost six of their last eight.

Game Vitals

When: Wednesday, January 19, 10 p.m. ET
Where: Golden 1 Center, California
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +6.5


Sacramento presents a much different challenge for the Pistons than they saw a night ago. Where Golden State ranked first in defense, the Kings are 27th, four spots below the Pistons.

The Kings rate poorly in pretty much every defensive factor outside of free throw rate, so the Pistons should find their jobs much easier both shooting the ball and on the boards.

That bodes well for Isaiah Stewart, who is looking to build on one of his best outings of the season against Golden State. Stewart tallied a double-double with 14 point and 11 rebounds and his activity level was reminiscent of a year ago. He found cutting lanes in the defense, finished well at the rim, and was the one consistent threat Detroit’s starting unit had.

His counterpart Richaun Holmes is a bigger and more athletic opponent, though. Those physical tools have translated to good rim protection this year to the tune of opponents shooting just 52.7% at the rim.

As a team, Sacramento ranks middle of the pack in terms of opponent’s shooting from less than 5 feet. Given that they also rank in the bottom quarter in effective field goal percentage defense, it will be important for Detroit to attack other areas of the court to find easy buckets.

Detroit has done that fairly well recently. Cade Cunningham has been more aggressive in stopping short of the rim to take mid-range shots to avoid traffic and find open, in-rhythm looks. Hamidou Diallo has developed a knack for the mid-range over the last month of the season. Even Saddiq Bey has found success inside the arc after his record-breaking rookie season from deep.

Of course, getting to the middle of the court is only half of the equation. The Kings are susceptible to collapsing in those situations, so Pistons ball handlers will need to find open shooters when that happens. And as always, they’ll need to make those shots.

On the other end of the court, Detroit will have to find a way to slow down De’Aaron Fox. With Haliburton out, Sacramento figures to rely heavily on Fox’s speed to create easy looks for teammates. If Killian Hayes’ hip keeps him out, Detroit doesn’t have an obvious defender for the challenge Fox presents.

So, it will probably need to be a team effort to stay disciplined and help as cleanly as possible when Fox breaks through the first line of defense. If Detroit can do that and Stewart can win his matchup with Holmes, the Pistons may just have a chance to steal the second of four on their West Coast road trip.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (10-33)

Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Stewart

Sacramento Kings (18-28)

De’Aaron Fox, Terence Davis, Harrison Barnes, Chimezie Metu, Richard Holmes

Question of the Game

Which Pistons team will we see tonight?