The Detroit Pistons didn’t exactly start 2024 as well as they ended 2023, getting blown out by the Houston Rockets. The Pistons succumbed to the all-too-familiar third-quarter collapse in Houston, surrendering 47 points and getting outscored by 22 in the frame. They will be looking to bounce back against the Utah Jazz as their four-game road trip continues. This isn’t the same Jazz team that beat Detroit by only eight points on Dec. 21. That team was missing 60% of its offense to injury. This team will have its star in Lauri Markkanen and Keyonte George to help carry the load alongside Collin Sexton and John Collins.
When: 9 p.m. ET
Where: Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +9
What would it take for the Pistons to pull out an upset on the road against the Jazz? The first player I would look at, besides Cade Cunningham, of course, is Jalen Duren. The Pistons have looked like a different, nearly functional team since Duren returned from injury. He has the bounce and explosion we saw in the first handful of games before being hampered by ankle injuries.
The Jazz survive offensively thanks to their ability to spread the offense around, punish teams inside when given the opening, and rebound the ball. Duren can help mitigate some of that rebounding advantage and help the Pistons give as much as they get as an interior scorer. Duren’s vertical rim pressure could loom large in this game in both the half-court and on the break.
Speaking of the fast break, that is where I hope the Pistons can really juice their offense and hopefully see some get-right games for Cunningham and for Ausar Thompson. The Jazz are the only team in the NBA that turns the ball over more than the Detroit Pistons, and they are also near the bottom of the standings in opponent fastbreak points. That is a byproduct of wanting to dominate the rebounding margin. If the Pistons can force the Jazz into some untimely turnovers and then get out and run, they could create easy offense and it’d be great to see a double-digit scoring night from Ausar and a double-digit assist night from Cade.
Detroit Pistons (3-30)
Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Kevin Knox, Jalen Duren
Utah Jazz (15-19)
Kris Dunn, Collin Sexton, Simone Fontecchio, Lauri Markkanen, John Collins
Question of the Game
Which player has the most 3s made in this game, Bojan Bogdanovic, Lauri Markkanen or noted Pistons killer Simone Fontecchio?