Funny how different things can feel over the course of a week, eh?
This time last week, the Detroit Pistons were three games into what would eventually be a seven-game losing skid. They were still processing the loss of Cade Cunningham and, frankly, stunk. Despite a few more losses, things have lightened up for the Pistons.
Road wins over the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz certainly helped, but the team is starting to round into shape — at least this version of the team is rounding into shape. Early injuries to Alec Burks, Isaiah Stewart and Cade have prevented the Pistons from showing us their true form.
And injuries might once again prevent that tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
When: 6 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +7
While the Pistons have been playing better of late, the biggest question heading into tonight’s game is the status of two key pieces — Jaden Ivey and Bojan Bogdanovic. Ivey missed the tight loss in Phoenix in Friday due to a knee injury while Bogey left that one after having his ankle stepped on in the final minutes.
Saddiq Bey (right ankle sprain) and Isaiah Stewart (right great toe sprain) have been upgraded to questionable against the Cavs tonight. Bojan Bogdanovic (right knee and ankle soreness), Jaden Ivey (right knee soreness) and Cory Joseph (non-COVID illness) are also questionable.— Omari Sankofa II (@omarisankofa) November 27, 2022
With an iffy Saddiq Bey, and Cunningham already missing, that is a lot of offensive firepower potentially on the bench. So, where does Detroit go for offense against a stingy Cavs defense that only gives up 108.1 points per game?
It’ll be a three-man show.
It starts with Burks. The newcomer has been a welcome addition for Dwane Casey. Burks is averaging 16.6 points per game off the bench, providing the Pistons with the bucket-getting backup guard they’ve lacked since what feels like Vinnie Johnson.
He’s been really good in that role, partially due to the injuries to other high-volume players, but also because he’s versatile enough to play along side Killian Hayes, Ivey, or Bogdanovic.
Speaking of Hayes, he’s got a big opportunity tonight as well. This was probably his best week in the NBA as he averaged 11.0 points, 7.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds over his past five games. Hayes is getting more comfortable finding his shot. That’s always been the key.
As good as the Cavs are defensively, their great backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland isn’t known for its defensive exploits. Hayes will have the volume and opportunity to continue his hot streak tonight.
As the resident gambler at DBB, I’ve been hopelessly chasing Hayes’ first triple-double. Whenever lineups are announced, I will once again be chasing as he flirted with one in Phoenix, finishing with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists.
The other important piece(s) are Marvin Bagley and Jalen Duren. Their size will be needed against Jarrett Allen, who destroyed the Pistons with 23 points on 11/16 shooting in the teams’ earlier matchup this season.
Bagley has made 22 of his last 30 field goals, and he’ll need to be a factor tonight if the Pistons are once again short handed.
Detroit Pistons (5-16)
Killian Hayes, Rodney McGruder, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Livers, Marvin Bagley III
Cleveland Cavaliers (12-7)
Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Question of the Day
Which Pistons player has been the biggest early-season surprise for you?