Things have not gone well for Detroit Pistons fans since the close of the Pistons’ season. More specifically, Paul George fell into health and safety protocols, the Clippers’ best healthy player was forced to miss the team’s play-in matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Clippers blew a fourth-quarter lead to give New Orleans the victory.
What does that have to do with the Pistons? The Pelicans were set to send their first-round pick to Portland if they didn’t make the postseason, but now that New Orleans is in, the Blazers get a 2025 first-rounder from Milwaukee instead. This is all part of the CJ McCollum trade earlier this season.
What does that have to do with the Pistons? It’s been a seemingly open secret that the Blazers were prepared to reroute the Pelicans’ first-rounder in exchange for Jerami Grant as Portland attempts to refashion a team around Damian Lillard. No Pelicans pick means coming to terms on a Grant deal is that much more difficult.
What has nothing to do with the Pistons? Playoff basketball. But today the postseason slate opens with four intriguing matchups, and below you’ll find schedules for the entire week of games.
Utah Jazz (5) at Dallas Mavericks (4)
When: 1 p.m. ET
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Odds: Mavericks +5.5
The Utah Jazz are on the verge of completely reshaping their team if they disappoint in the postseason again. However, they were given a lifeline when Luka Doncic became sidelined with an injury and will miss at least game one and perhaps multiple games in the series. Is this the last hurrah for Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert?
Minnesota Timberwolves (7) at Memphis Grizzlies (2)
When: 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
Odds: Grizzlies -6.5
A lot of people walked away impressed with the Timberwolves after they won their play-in game in spite of Karl-Anthony Towns laying a total egg. My advice? Don’t get too worked up because they’re about to play a great team, and this one might be a gentleman’s sweep or worse. The Grizzlies are stacked everywhere and seemingly built to succeed in postseason behind the heroics of Ja Morant, a great coach and efficient players up and down the roster. You might say that the Grizzlies could struggle in the half court, but Minnesota was actually the fastest-paced team in the NBA this season, and they are even more likely to struggle to generate offense when the game slows down.
Toronto Raptors (5) at Philadelphia 76ers (4)
When: 6 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia 76ers
Odds: Sixers -4.5
The series everyone is waiting for. Potential rookie of the year Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Nick Nurse going against potential MVP Joel Embiid, former MVP and soon to be disgustingly expensive James Harden, the already disgustingly expensive Tobias Harris and some spare parts. The Sixers are going to have to advance but that will be no easy task against a very capable Raptors squad.
Denver Nuggets (6) at Golden State Warriors (3)
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
Odds: Warriors -6.5
Another former (and potential repeat) MVP suits up in Nikola Jokic. He’s dragged the Nuggets through a hell of a season, but they are going to face a buzzsaw in Golden State. That is if their superstar players are anywhere close to 100%. How close do they need to be? I’m not sure. Maybe 80% would even do it. If the Nuggets manage to upsets the Warriors in this series, I wouldn’t think they could go all the way this season, but it’s just a signal that they’ll be scary as hell next season when Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are healthy again.
Games on deck for tomorrow
1 p.m. ET
3:30 p.m. ET
6:30 p.m. ET
9 p.m. ET
New Orleans Pelicans (8) at Phoenix Suns (1) on TNT