Game 79. We are now officially in the final week of the 2022-23 Detroit Pistons schedule. Praise be.
With only four games to play and top lottery odds all but secured, there's little to watch for if you are a Pistons fan. However, I've tried my best to come up with three things to keep an eye on in tonight's clash with the Miami Heat.
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +11.5
3 Things to watch:
1. Can Detroit limit Tyler Herro's impact?
Tyler Herro's eyes must light up whenever he sees Detroit on the upcoming schedule of games. Through four seasons in the NBA, the sweet-shooting 23-year-old has torched the Pistons in his six outings, averaging 26 points on 55% shooting—each representing career-highs against any team.
It's worth noting the Pistons have been in Eastern Conference bottom-dwellers since Herro's arrival to the pros. Hence, the combination of Herro's shot-creation ability and Miami's frenetic offense has led to multiple 30-point outings for the Kentucky product.
The youthful core of Detroit has struggled to defend anyone, but offenses featuring off-ball movement such as the Heat's has spelled trouble for the Motor City. Miami's 5-1 record against Detroit with Herro in the lineup only further backs this up.
In terms of matchups, with limited options available, one would assume Killian Hayes gets first crack at guarding Miami's third-leading scorer. In two matchups this season, Herro has converted 5-of-11 shots when guarded directly by Hayes, per NBA.com.
2. Jalen Duren vs. Bam Adebayo minutes
Detroit Pistons beat writer Omari Sankofa of the Detroit Free Press recently wrote a piece detailing Jalen Duren's study of Miami's All-Star center Bam Adebayo. Whilst their respective skill sets differ, the overall versatility within Adebayo's game is something the Pistons coaching staff hopes their 19-year-old big man can achieve.
Adebayo's playmaking ability from the center position is part of what makes him a valuable option on offense. He averages 3.3 assists per game for his career, including a pair of seasons with 5+ assists.
Miami often stations Adebayo around the elbow area, making him the central hub of many possessions. From here, Adebayo is able to make passing reads to cutters or spray passes to open corner shooters.
In recent weeks, we've seen Dwane Casey look to utilize Duren in similar ways (see the below clips):
Some of my favourite assists from Duren in the past couple of weeks.— Jack Kelly (@jack_kelly_313) March 29, 2023
One thing that jumps out to me is his patience after hauling in an offensive board--gathers himself and is able to find the open man: pic.twitter.com/51Irfne3Sc
On defense, Duren still has a ways to go before sniffing the defensive capabilities of Adebayo.
Adebayo is arguably the league's most defensively versatile center, but the pair certainly share some athletic traits which should leave Piston fans hopeful of Duren one day providing a similar impact at this end of the court.
3. Can Isaiah Livers build on his strong fourth quarter in Orlando?
Isaiah Livers second season has been an up-and-down journey. The second-year forward has had his fair share of encouraging moments, but as the season draws to a close it's hard to find any single stretch where Livers asserted himself as a key piece of Detroit's rebuild.
A lot of what the 24-year-old provides can't be seen on the box score. His communication on defense, knack for setting off ball screens and ability to haul in crucial rebounds are all valuable ingredients on a winning team.
However, whilst these elements are important, Livers still needs to be able to provide a punch offensively to keep defenses honest. After shooting 42% from three as a rookie, Livers shooting from long-range has dipped to 35%. That's not a horrible percentage, but considering his primary role on offense is to provide spacing, shooting a shade over league average from deep isn't ideal.
In Sunday's contest with the Orlando Magic, Livers was able to rally and score 10 points in the final term. Though the game was over, it was encouraging to see Livers register double-digit points in back-to-back games. Something he's only done three times in his career.
Detroit Pistons (16-62)
Jaden Ivey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Livers, Marvin Bagley III, James Wiseman
Miami Heat (41-37)
Gabe Vincent, Tyler Herro, Max Struss, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo
Question of the Day
Now almost two seasons in, do you consider Isaiah Livers part of the Pistons' core?