The NBA’s favorite narrative right now is about the MVP award.
Does Nikola Jokic, the low-key, unassuming, two-time winner, deserve his third? Or does Joel Embiid deserve one in the same ilk as Karl Malone in the late 1990s? Oh, and don’t forget about Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has the Milwaukee Bucks cruising to the top record in the Eastern Conference.
How do the Detroit Pistons factor into this? They host Jokic and his struggling Denver Nuggets tonight.
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +15
Odds are this still isn’t going to go well for the Pistons tonight.
But if they win? Hoooooo boy, things get interesting in the MVP race.
The Vegas odds have already shifted dramatically over the past two weeks — from Jokic being in the -300 range as a heavy favorite to now being plus-money at most books in a dead heat with Embiid.
Just because the Nuggets have lost four-straight games doesn’t mean Jokic is struggling. The man is averaging 25.5 points, 13.7 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game in March and just had 35 points, 20 rebounds and 11 asssists in a loss to the Nets on Sunday.
Denver’s defense has been trash though as they’ve allowed north of 117 points in each of their losses during this stretch.
The Pistons will still be shorthanded with Bojan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, Isaiah Livers and Alec Burks all out. Jaden Ivey is getting closer, but he’s doubtful tonight. Denver will likely be without Jamal Murray.
It’s once again a huge opportunity for Killian Hayes, who has been putting up numbers with everyone on the mend. I’m interested to see how Jalen Duren and James Wiseman fare against Jokic as well. It’s probably gonna go bad, but still, interesting!
The Pistons may be wayyyyyy out of the race for anything resembling the playoffs, but they can still play spoiler in a number of ways. Whether or not the Nuggets recent struggles should reflect on Jokic’s chase for that third-straight MVP is worth debating.
But narratives run the NBA, and right now, a Pistons’ upset — however unlikely — would pour more gas on that fire.
Detroit Pistons (16-54)
Killian Hayes, Rodney McGruder, RJ Hampton, Eugene Omoruyi, James Wiseman
Denver Nuggets (46-23)
Bruce Brown, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., Nikola Jokic
Question of the Day
Who is your 2022-23 NBA MVP as we enter the final stretch of the regular season?