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Pistons vs. Pacers preview: Detroit looks to slow down NBA’s top offense

Cade Cunningham looks to capitalize against a Pacers team that surrenders a ton of points in the paint and on the perimeter

Toronto Raptors v Indiana Pacers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons had ample opportunity to end their double-digit losing streak Monday when they were able to hold their own against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, but couldn’t capitalize when the MVP got himself ejected, eventually falling 107-103. Detroit has had four days to lick its wounds and enjoy the holiday with family. Hopefully, they come out with an even more focused effort against a tough challenge in the Indiana Pacers and the NBA’s No. 1 offense.

Game Vitals

When:8 p.m. ET
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +9

Analysis

I’m not crazy enough to predict a win tonight against the Indiana Pacers, but tonight could be a nice get-right game for Cade Cunningham and the entire Detroit Pistons offense. The Pacers might have the NBA’s top-scoring offense at an eye-popping 128 points per game, but they also sport the NBA’s worst defense at 126 points surrendered. The team is also, unsurprisingly, the fastest team in the league. Specifically, for Cunningham, this could be an opportunity to turn his typical high-volume scoring into a high-efficiency scoring night. If he’s able to get to the line as often as he did against Denver (11 trips to the charity stripe), that will certainly help. But a player who has only hit 50% of his shots once this season, and better than 45% of his shots in just three games, a nice, efficient night would be a welcome sight.

For the Pistons more generally, the Pacers surrender a ton of points from the free-throw line, a bottom-three mark in opponent 3-point percentage, and allow more than 60 points in the paint per game. That goes a long way in explaining how the Pacers allow opponents to shoot better than 50% from the field.

That could mean big days for a returning Jalen Duren and Marvin Bagley off the bench. Alec Burks could also use a nice, easy day from the perimeter. The Pistons aren’t quite whole, but having Burks, Duren and Isaiah Livers (ready for his second game of the season) gets them close. Now they just need Bojan Bogdanovic back (practicing but not yet ready to play) and, eventually, Monty Morris (still projected out at least a couple more months).

Projected Starters

Detroit Pistons (2-12)

Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren

Indiana Pacers (8-6)

Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Bruce Brown, Aaron Nesmith, Miles Turner