Detroit’s blowout loss comes right after its first win streak of the season. The one upside for the Pistons is that, due to the blowout, no rotation member played more than 27 minutes. So the team should be more rested than usual on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Grizzlies are coming off one day’s rest and have been playing well lately. Memphis has won six straight including wins over the Phoenix Suns and the Brooklyn Nets. Looking back to the end of November, Memphis has won 16 of their last 20.
As is custom these days, each team’s rotation is a bit up in the air due to health and safety protocols.
When: 8 p.m. ET
Where: FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +12
Any discussion of the Grizzlies has to begin with their outstanding point guard, Ja Morant. Morant has been on a tear this year and is the odds-on favorite for Most Improved Player on the strength of averaging 25 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds for the season.
Morant will provide a unique challenge for a Pistons defense who has struggled to defend the rim without Isaiah Stewart. Stewart is questionable to return against the Grizzlies. If he doesn’t play, Detroit will likely need to lean on its backcourt to do their best to prevent Morant from getting into the paint consistently.
That responsibility will likely fall to Killian Hayes who, while still struggling offensively, has shown flashes of brilliance on the defensive end. Hayes has used his quick hands to his advantage well in disrupting drives and jumping passing lanes, and he’ll need to create some turnovers because Morant’s rim pressure is, to some degree, inevitable.
The Pistons will also need to help out whoever is tasked with guarding Morant. Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, and Hamidou Diallo all will have to help off and scramble back to cover shooters. We saw this approach executed very well recently when Detroit swarmed Giannis Antetokounmpo while still closing out well on the perimeter. Morant does it a bit differently, but that same level of execution will be necessary if Detroit is going to have a chance to win.
Even if Detroit slows down Hayes, they will also have to deal with the large frontcourt of Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Steven Adams. The Pistons are simply not big enough defensively to defend jumbo lineups so the team approach will be necessary when defending the entire Grizzlies’ starting lineup.
Memphis’ strong offensive options have resulted in the fifth-best offense in the league. Their defense, though, ranks just 15th. Morant is particularly vulnerable defensively. Whoever finds themselves defended by the Grizzlies’ starting point guard will have to punish him when Detroit has the ball. Not only is that the weakest point of Memphis’ defense, but making Morant work defensively can hopefully slow him down a bit on the other end.
Projected Starting Lineups
Memphis Grizzlies (25-14)
Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Killian Tillie, Jaren Jackson, Jr., Steven Adams
Detroit Pistons (7-29)
Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Stewart
Question of the Game
Can Detroit compete hard against a good opponent after a disappointing effort last night?