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Pistons vs. Knicks preview: Detroit welcome New York for third and final match

RJ Barrett and the mediocre Knicks visit Detroit for their third and final contest of the season.

Detroit Pistons v New York Knicks Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

In what feels like their 10th meeting of the young season, Detroit will host New York for their third and final meeting of the season.

In the midst of another let-down year, the Knickerbockers have handled the Pistons with relative ease. In their prior three outings (including a preseason game) they’ve throttled the Pistons by an average winning margin of 18 points.

However, after a resounding 6-game west coast trip, the Pistons are a much more competitive group than the one New York last faced on November 12th. In spite of significant injuries, Dwane Casey has the team playing a cohesive brand of basketball.

Speaking of injuries, Jaden Ivey (knee), Isaiah Stewart (toe) and Bojan Bogdanovic (ankle) have all been listed as questionable ahead of tonight’s clash.

Game Vitals

When: Tuesday, November 29, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +4.5

Detroit Pistons v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images


3 Things to watch for:

1. Marvin Bagley’s assertiveness on the interior.

After somewhat of a ‘slow’ start, Marvin Bagley has been a key cog in Detroit’s recent run of success. The interior scoring package Bagley provides is crucial for a Piston squad which ranks 26th in the league for finishing within 4 feet of the basket, per Cleaning in the Glass.

In his past five games, Bagley is posting averages of 16 points & 7 rebounds, on 65% shooting from the floor. In this same stretch, the energizer big is harassing opposing offenses, mucking up opponent drives with 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. Although he’s still prone to his fair share of defensive mishaps, this kind of defensive intensity has been crucial in generating Detroit easy transition baskets.

Bagley has also yet to face the Knicks this season. His offensive punch is something Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks will need to game-plan for. In prior match-ups, New York’s bigs were able to lurk in the paint as Stewart and Duren (at this stage of their career) simply don’t garner the offensive attention Bagley does.

Memphis Grizzlies v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

2 . RJ Barrett’s lackluster year 4

Year 4 was meant to be the season RJ Barrett leaped into the All Star conversation. Following a successful third year, where the former third overall selection averaged a 20-5-5, the newly instated back-court duo of Brunson and Barrett intended on leading New York back to the Playoffs.

Unfortunately for Knicks fans, not only has the team struggled, but Barrett’s downer of a season has been a major reason for the teams mediocre record of 9 wins and 11 losses.

With the arrival of Brunson, it’s no surprise to see Barrett’s counting stats take a hit. But, his shooting splits of 26.8% from three and 40.1% shooting overall have plagued the Knicks offense.

However, Barrett has played some of his best basketball against Detroit. In New York’s prior two wins, Barrett has scored 24.0 points on an efficient 56.3% conversion rate. Barrett was able to take advantage of Detroit’s weak perimeter defense with his menacing drives in meetings prior. But with Bogdanovic potentially out, Isaiah Livers should provide Detroit with more stopping power on the wings.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

3. Killian Hayes’ continued progression

I was initially going to try be creative with my preview and not include the teams hottest topic right now. However, Killian Hayes’ play of late deserves the shine. Especially after the vitriol (some deserved) the young Frenchman has received from the NBA community.

Hayes is playing with an air of confidence across his last 10 game which we have not seen in any of his 120+ games prior. He’s been aggressive with his play; carving up defenses with his 15-foot pull-up jumper and mercurial passing (I wrote an in depth piece on this here). And he’s also being aggressive in nature:

Hayes still needs to show he can keep this play up for a lengthy period of time, but there’s no denying something has changed mentally for the young point guard of late. With a slew of injuries to important players, Hayes’ development these past few weeks has made each Piston game worth watching.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (5-17):
Killian Hayes, Rodney McGruder, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Livers, Marvin Bagley III

New York Knicks (9-11):
Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson

Question of the Day

Which Piston return are you looking forward to the most: Jaden Ivey, Isaiah Stewart, or Bojan Bogdanovic?