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Pistons vs. Thunder preview: The tank bowl on April Fools Day

After a huge win over Philadelphia, the Pistons are in danger of being passed by OKC in the tanking standings.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody is in agreement that Thursday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers was fun. The Pistons dominated the 4th quarter against the number four seed in the Eastern Conference standings en route to a surprising win.

However, for draft pick positioning purposes, Thursday’s win was a huge loss. The Pistons still sit in the top three for odds for the number one pick, but they only have one game of separation between the Oklahoma City Thunder now.

The Pistons focus right now is building positive momentum for next season, but you didn’t hang around the bottom of the standings all season only to lose out on the best odds for the number one pick in the final weeks of the season.

Game Vitals

Where: Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, OK
When: Friday, April 1, 2022 at 8:00 PM EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (-4.5)

Analysis

It is tough to analyze a game where you have no idea who will be playing for either team. You have a pretty good idea for the Pistons, as Jerami Grant and Hamidou Diallo have already been ruled out for the season. Marvin Bagley suffered a hip injury in last night’s game and is likely out.

For the Thunder, they are clearly trying as hard as they can to lose the rest of their games based on the recent lineups they have been playing. They will be without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey for sure, as both players have been ruled out for the rest of the season. They will also likely be without a few guys that have been NBA contributors in Kenrich Williams, Derrick Favors, Tre Mann, and Darius Bazley.

You are going to see a lot of guys playing for OKC that you probably have not even heard of. The Thunder only won two games in March, one of which was over the Orlando Magic. That bodes well for the Pistons, as the Magic are in a similar spot to them. However, the Pistons are playing much better recently, which is clear from their win over the Philadelphia 76ers last night.

There is a reason why the Pistons are favored in this game. They will have the more talented roster playing, but they are also on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, which helps a bit.

This could be the game that the Pistons give Cade Cunningham a rest. He injured his tailbone against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, but still played and scored 34. He followed that up with another masterful performance while playing hurt with 27 points last night. They are trying to give Cade a chance to make a last-minute Rookie of the Year push, and a game against the Thunder would help a lot.

However, playing sore last night and then turning around and playing again tonight might not be worth it. There are still 4 games after this one for Cade to make his push.

Cade made easy work of two playoff teams the last couple games who actually had players to guard him. The Thunder have nobody to guard Cade, so this could be a huge game for him if he does play. That could be reason enough to let him play through the injury. There are only 4 games left after this and he can use the offseason to rest up.

If Cade does not play, it will be a great opportunity for Killian Hayes to get a chance to start and continue to build off of his solid pay the last 6 games.

The Pistons will be short-handed in the front court if Marvin Bagley III does not play. They were already short a big without Jerami Grant, and they will be even more short-handed Bagley. Isaiah Livers could get his first chance to start, as Dwane Casey is unlikely to mess with his bench rotation and start Kelly Olynyk. Livers played a key role in the win over the 76ers last night hitting some clutch shots down the stretch and playing solid defense.

Lineups

Detroit Pistons (21-56): Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Livers, Isaiah Stewart

Oklahoma City Thunder (22-54): Theo Maledon, Vit Krejci, Aaron Wiggins, Aleksej Pokusevski, Isaiah Roby

Question of the Game

Which random player from the Oklahoma City Thunder will go off against the Pistons?