A few weeks ago, a matchup between the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls would not have raised many eyebrows. The Pistons began the season losing two in a row to the Bulls and then fell by 46 when they played each other in January. Now, though, the Pistons have won 6 of 8 and the Bulls are losers of five in a row. Granted, those five losses were to some powerhouse teams (Grizzlies, Heat, Bucks, Sixers and, uhhh the Hawks). Still, this seems like it could be a decent test for a Detroit team that looks like it’s figured some things out.
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +5.5 per Draft Kings Sports Book
While it’s reasonable to assume the Pistons aren’t going to drop another game by nearly 50 points tonight, they will be short-handed when they face the scuffling Bulls. Isaiah Stewart is sidelined with a bone bruise to his right knee. Frankly, it could be a best-case scenario as Stewart had his foot planted and an Atlanta Hawks player fall into his knee, bending it awkwardly. He will be re-evaluated in a week.
The Pistons might also be missing Killian Hayes who is listed as questionable. He took a nasty shot to the groin area during the Hawks game and had to limp gingerly to the sideline.
Those are two key pieces for Detroit, and even at full strength, nearly every game is an uphill battle for the Pistons. Stewart has provided some excellent defense on the interior and when switched on smaller players on the perimeter as of late. His backup would likely be Marvin Bagley Jr who has performed well since coming to Detroit but doesn’t have the versatility of Stewart and finds himself out of position on defense a fair amount. Or the Pistons could opt for veteran Kelly Olynyk who still doesn’t seem at 100% and could really struggle to keep up on defense.
Hayes has been a terror on defense all season and has been even more of a pest since he started coming off the bench. Detroit being forced to rely even more on Cory Joseph will be a struggle on the defensive end, and Detroit’s only real backup at point guard is probably Saben Lee who hasn’t seen any minutes in a Pistons uniform since a three-minute stint on Jan. 28.
Speaking of poor D, Chicago is struggling to slow anyone down during this losing streak. They are surrendering nearly 30 free throws per game and giving up 119.4 points per game. The Bulls are through the most difficult part of their schedule but injuries have caught up with them and while DeMar DeRozan has been great, he and Zach LaVine can’t generate enough points with Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Nikola Vucevic sidelined.
Detroit Pistons (18-47)
Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk
Chicago Bulls (39-26)
Ayo Dosunmu, Zach LaVine, Javonte Green, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic
Question of the Day
Will the Chicago Bulls (currently a fourth seed) make it out of the first round of the playoffs?