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Pistons vs. Hawks preview: Atlanta comes to town to face the Pistons for the last time this season

We are in the home stretch of yet another season, even though it seems like it just started.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It is crazy that there are only 10 games left in the 2021-2022 NBA season. For a team like the Hawks, they are at least in position for the play-in tournament, so their season won’t be over in 10 games. For the Pistons, it is all about developing players down the stretch and hoping for the best possible draft position.

The Hawks have a 6 game lead over the Wizards for the 10th seed in the East and the Final play-in spot, so this isn’t exactly a “must-win” game for them. However, they could pass the Hornets and Nets if they can close out their season.

A few months ago, a game against the Pistons was just what the doctor ordered for a team needing wins for playoff position, but the Pistons of the last couple months have played everybody tough and are no easy win. Atlanta could find that out the hard way if they look past this game.

Game Vitals

When: 7 pm EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +4.5 per Draft Kings

Analysis

The last time these two teams faced, the Pistons held Trae Young to one of his worst performances of the season, a 5-20 shooting day from the field. The Pistons also won a thrilling game in overtime and Cade Cunningham had 28 points and 10 assists.

I would not expect a similar poor performance out of Trae Young, who is coming off a 45 point game in the Hawks win over the Knicks in their last game.

Even if Trae Young is able to get his own tonight, he will also struggle to defend Cade Cunningham, who had one of his best games of his young career the last time they met. Young does not have the size to contain Cunningham, and the Hawks really don’t have a wing defender they can throw at Cunningham to stop him.

Cade Cunningham is in need of an easier matchup on offense, as he struggled with 9 turnovers in the Pistons loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday. The Pistons almost made a miraculous comeback in that game, but came up short.

The Pistons were also very short-handed in that game and should have some reinforcements in the form of Jerami Grant and Cory Joseph, unless they decide to rest both of them again.

Since injury reports are generally revealed closer to game time, it is tough to say who will be available. The Hawks should be at mostly full strength, so the closeness of this game is likely dependent on who does and does not play for the Pistons.

It was one thing to play the Portland Trail Blazers G League team close, but facing a team at full strength that is still fighting for better playoff positioning is a whole different animal. I expect the Pistons to rest their veterans down the stretch this season, but I have a feeling they will probably play against better teams just to take some pressure off the young players.

Projected Lineups

Atlanta Hawks (36-36)

Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, DeAndre Hunter, Danilo Gallinari, Clint Capela

Detroit Pistons (19-53)

Cade Cunningham, Cory Joseph, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Day

Should the Pistons rest their veterans for the rest of the season or just keep doing what they have been doing the last few months to keep games close and build positive momentum?

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