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Pistons vs. Magic Preview: Detroit looks to claim series sweep against Orlando

Rookie of the Year contenders face off in Orlando tonight

Orlando Magic v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Fresh off a pair of honourable losses to the Denver Nuggets, Detroit heads to Florida for a brief one-game road trip against the Orlando Magic. The 2022 Detroit Pistons look to get back to their winning ways against the one team in the league who has a worse record than themselves.

In their two previous matchups, Detroit were able to outlast the Magic by 5 and 7 points, respectively. Following his career night, expect Cade Cunningham to continue his Rookie of the Year (ROY) tour, as he faces fellow top rookie Franz Wager.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Amway Center in Orlando, Florida
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +2.5

Analysis

While tonight’s contest shapes up to be a competitive one, it’s worth noting that Detroit and Orlando share the league’s second and third worst offensive ratings, respectively. This could be one of those close games where you never watch the highlights and you erase it from your memory immediately. However, if you’re a Magic or Pistons fan, you’re most likely tuning in to watch your respective teams young prospects.

With the recent return of Magic guard, Jalen Suggs, tonight’s game features three of the top seven draft picks from the 2021 Draft. As previously mentioned, the headline matchup of Cunningham and Wagner will grab most of the attention, but it’s worth noting the encouraging play of Suggs since his re-acclamation to the lineup.

In seven games since returning from a thumb injury, the former Gonzaga Bulldog has averaged 14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists. Similar to Cunningham. Suggs was slow out of the gates and struggled to start the season, leading fans and media alike to prematurely label him a bust. It’s been refreshing to see Suggs string together some solid performances, getting back to his do-it-all play style that lead him to being the fifth overall selection.

It appears the return of Suggs have somewhat derailed the play of current starting point guard Cole Anthony. On the year, Anthony has averaged 19 points however, in his past seven games with Suggs in the lineup his scoring average has dipped to just 11 points.

In the front court, the Magic bolster a long and frankly, strange fitting trio of Wagner, Carter and Bamba. Although offensively challenged, the aforementioned front court provides the Magic with a solid defensive rating of 105.6. With and average height of 6-foot-11 and wingspan of 7-foot-3, it makes sense why the Magic can hold their own defensively when these three are on the court.

For Detroit, it appears veteran forward Jerami Grant is set to miss tonight’s game while he recovers from his bout of COVID-related illness.

Dwane Casey’s most recent comments seem to suggest Killian Hayes will be coming off the bench for the foreseeable future:

Hayes’ productive play off the bench reflect the comments of coach Casey, he seems to play with more freedom against the opposing team’s second unit. It’s also been encouraging to see Casey play the Frenchman in the closing lineups, something we haven’t seen him always do prior.

In his two games as a reserve, Hayes has averaged 7 points and 6 assists with only 1 turnover. While the scoring efficiency remains low, his play has still been beneficial, as Detroit are a +3 with Hayes on the court.

Finally, it would be great to see Cunningham assert himself as the better rookie, with a dominant performance tonight against Wagner and the Magic. In his two games against Orlando this year, the number one overall pick has averaged an horrific 7 points on shooting splits of 18.2 FG% and 0.0 3FG%....wow. It would appear Cunningham is due for a stellar performance against the Magic.

Projected Lineups

Orlando Magic (9-40)

Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendall Carter, Mo Bamba

Detroit Pistons (11-36)

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

Question of the Day

With trade season upon us, should Detroit have interest in Mo Bamba?