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Pistons vs. Kings Preview: The calm before the storm

With Thursday’s trade deadline here, we still have some West Coast basketball to play before the craziness.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If you are somebody that works a normal job like myself and also root for a team with the worst record in the NBA, West Coast games are great because it gives you an excuse to not watch. When that West Coast game is against a Sacramento Kings team that is currently 5th place in the Western Conference, you have even more incentive to head to bed.

But for those of you crazy enough to stay up and watch this game, you might be able to watch a fun game, as both of these teams are not great defensively. The Kings can score and that has been clear since last season, however, the Pistons have been scoring the ball much better over the last few weeks as they finally have some guys that can make outside shots.

I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a win, but the Pistons have been a lot more competitive lately.

Game Vitals

Where: Golden One Center in Sacramento, CA
When: Wednesday, February 7 at 10 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Kings (-13)

Analysis

Bojan Bogdanovic is questionable with a calf injury in this game. Take that information however you want. It is definitely strange timing for a veteran player involved in some trade rumors to be questionable with an “injury” the day before the trade deadline, but Bogdanovic has been dealing with a calf injury all season, so something very well could have flared up. The Pistons have also indicated they have no intentions of trading him, so this very well could just be coincidental timing

If the Pistons are without Bogdanovic, they probably won’t be nearly as competitive as they have been the last few weeks, as Bogdanovic has been on a bit of a heater during that time, outside of the Orlando game on Sunday. You can throw out that game for everybody, as the whole team struggled offensively against a good defensive Orlando team.

The Cade Cunningham-Jaden Ivey backcourt are starting to get into a bit of a groove while learning how to play off each other. It still isn’t perfect and they leave a lot to be desired in the turnover department, but when both players are on, there are not a ton of backcourts in the NBA that can contain both. Now we just need the rest of the team to step up and take some pressure off of them.

Ausar Thompson is starting to thrive playing off the bench with 3-4 shooters. It is forcing him into the dunker spot and attacking the basket off screens and off ball movement, which is a much better role for him than whatever Monty Williams had him doing in December and most of January. You have also seen a bit of an uptick in his energy on defense, which was looking a bit off during his rough stretch. Thompson is the Pistons only wing defender, and will likely be tasked with helping contain De’Aaron Fox whenever he is in the game.

It’s a bit insane that neither of De’Aaron Fox or Domantas Sabonis were named as Western Conference All Stars this season. Both players are in the midst of career seasons and have the Kings in the 5th spot in the West. I know Sacramento isn’t a huge market, but both players were All Stars last season. That was probably mostly from the shock of the Kings coming out of nowhere to the top of the Western Conference standings, where now they had expectations coming into the season. But the fact that neither one of them made it is crazy.

Whatever the case is, both players are very good and Sabonis has extra motivation due to a weird beef with Jalen Duren that was likely started last season because of some comments Duren made about how it wasn’t difficult to defend Sabonis. He took that personally and scored 37 points the last time these two teams played.

Another player who seemed to take a matchup with the Pistons personally is Keegan Murray, who had 32 points in the last game. The Pistons reportedly had interest in Murray in the 2022 Draft, although never got the chance to draft him as he went 1 pick before Jaden Ivey. But Pistons fans definitely made their feelings known on the potential drafting of Murray. I doubt Murray listened to any of that noise, but he looked like he did in the last matchup.

It will be fun to watch him and Jaden Ivey, as both players are starting to come into their own in their 2nd season in the league.

This should be a fun game, but if the Pistons come out shooting like they did in Orlando, this game could get out of hand quick.

Lineups

Detroit Pistons (6-43): Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Kevin Knox, Mike Muscala, Jalen Duren

Sacramento Kings (29-20): De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray, Domantas Sabonis

Question of the Day

Which Pistons players do you ultimately think will be traded by the deadline tomorrow?