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Pistons vs. Clippers preview: Two banged up teams square off in Detroit

Detroit looking to bounce back after horrid fourth quarter against Boston

Detroit Pistons v LA Clippers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

If you took the players who aren’t going to play in today’s contest between the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers, you could make a pretty enticing rotation. The Clippers would surely be responsible for most of the starting lineup, of course — with stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as well as Norman Powell and Robert Covington missing as well. Detroit, meanwhile, could round out a nice bench with Isaiah Stewart, Hamidou Diallo, Killian Hayes, Frank Jackson and Rodney McGruder.

In the real world, though, we’ll see Pistons West — Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Luke Kennard trying to stay above .500 with a win over Detroit. And the short-handed Pistons, meanwhile, will see if they can take the great three quarters they played against Boston and sustain it for all four quarters.

Game Vitals

When: 3 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +5 per Draft Kings

Analysis

For 75% of the game, seeing the upstart Pistons give an excellent Boston Celtics team everything it had was amazing to watch. Cade Cunningham was officially In His Bag. He had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists on 10-of-21 shooting through three quarters. The Pistons were down just two. Then he and others in the primary rotation sat for a breather. Detroit’s makeshift bench unit filled with G League guys couldn’t sustain the effort in the fourth, and even though the starters were in at the 9:44 mark, the two-point deficit had stretched to nine, the air got sucked out of Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit starters couldn’t right the ship.

I’ve heard of fourth-quarter collapses before, but this one was epic. The only reason it will mostly be forgotten is because Detroit was trailing at the beginning of the quarter so it’s not like they blew some giant lead. But they’ve rarely played so poorly.

The Pistons had just nine points with 31 seconds remaining in the quarter and had missed all 13 of their field goals. Not only did they have more turnovers (5) than assists (0, duh), but they barely had more rebounds (8). A Saddiq Bey layup with 30 seconds left kept the night out of the record books and Luka Garza added a jumper for kicks and giggles.

But I digress ... Detroit is trying to avoid all that. The good news is there might be a small chance that Killian Hayes plays as he is listed as questionable. They could really use his passing and defense off the bench. Also, those G League guys who couldn’t get it done in the fourth quarter did perform well in their first stints off the bench against the Celtics. Even little-used Jamorko Pickett had 8 points on three-of-four shooting.

The Clippers, meanwhile, have scuffled and dropped three of their past four games including a no-show against the Atlanta Hawks. They also play tomorrow against the Cleveland Cavaliers so they might be overlooking the Pistons a bit.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (18-49)

Cade Cunningham, Cory Joseph, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Marvin Bagley III

LA Clippers (35-34)

Reggie Jackson, Amir Coffey, Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac

Question of the Game

If you could have one player on their current contract return to Detroit from the LA Clippers, who would you want — Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris or Luke Kennard?

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