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Pistons vs. Pacers preview: Injuries continue to pile up as Detroit hosts Indiana

The Pistons will be without arguably their top six players tonight against the Pacers

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

What happens if you take the worst team in the NBA, then remove five (six, counting Cade Cunningham) of its most important players? You get whatever Dwane Casey has to work with tonight when the Pistons play host to the Indiana Pacers at Little Caesars Arena.

Detroit will be without its leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic (left Achilles tendinopathy), top 3-point shooter in Alec Burks (sore left foot), top power forward in Isaiah Stewart (shoulder) and heart and soul off the bench in Hamidou Diallo.

Oh, yeah, and they’ll be without the reason most of us are still tuning in most nights with standout rookie Jaden Ivey missing this one with health and safety protocols.

How does George Blaha phrase it at the start of every game?

“Welcome in for an exciting night of N-B-A basketball!”

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +6


If the Pistons only being six-point dogs tonight with pretty much every important player our smells a little funky, there’s a reason for that. The Pacers may be super shorthanded, too. Bennedict Mathurin is already ruled out with an ankle injury, and he may be joined by T.J. McConnell, Myles Turner and Tyrese Halliburton, all game-time decisions.

That would leave us with a.... basketball game. I don’t really know if it would be good or bad, or even fun. But it would be basketball at LCA.

The most interesting storyline here for the Pistons is probably the battery of James Wiseman and Killian Hayes. The two haven’t shared the floor a ton since the trade deadline, but the Pistons are going to need to lean on Hayes and Cory Joseph at point guard and Wiseman might be their No. 1 scoring option — which sounds nuts, because it is.

After a resurgent stretch around the holidays, Hayes’ shooting has regressed back to the suboptimal norm. He’s shooting 38% from the field and 29% from three over his past 40 games and over the past 20 those numbers are a horrific 32% overall and 23% from three.

Tonight, he’s got a chance to be a scorer and a playmaker with maybe only Andrew Nembhard standing in his way. If there’s an opportunity for Hayes to rebound in the final stretch of games, tonight is the perfect night to get it going.

Two other newer Pistons have big opportunities tonight: RJ Hampton and Eugene Omoruyi.

Hampton has looked feisty on defense and, while his offensive approach is still aloof at best, he’s making an impact for Detroit, scoring in double figures in three of his past four games.

The same for Omoruyi, who gives the Pistons a physical option on the wing. He moves like a defensive end trying to playing basketball, but he defends and is scoring well. He’s doing the little things that he needs to as a 10-day player.

With Stew likely out for season with this shoulder issue, I’d be shocked if Omoruyi hasn’t basically locked up a roster spot in Detroit for the rest of the season.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (15-52)

Killian Hayes, Rodney McGruder, Isaiah Livers, Marvin Bagley, James Wiseman

Indiana Pacers (30-37)

Andrew Nembhard, Buddy Hield, Jordan Nwora, Andrew Nesmith, Jalen Smith

Question of the Day

What, if anything, does Killian Hayes need to show down the stretch to improve his chances of keeping a spot in the Pistons’ rotation next season?