Detroit Pistons game previews between October 24 and October 30, including games against: Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors.
After months of waiting, Detroit Pistons basketball is finally back. Coming off an encouraging eighth seed finish last season, spirits are running high in Michigan that the new squad will be able to improve on the backs of a young core and key free agent signings. Finally, though, projections and opinions are no longer needed, as it’s time to see some real NBA basketball. The Pistons kick off their first week with three games, which are broken down below.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
The Pistons begin with a tough test against the Toronto Raptors, who last year finished as the second seed in the Eastern Conference and return with almost all of their key pieces. With starting point guard Reggie Jackson likely out for several weeks, Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry will pose a tough matchup for Ish Smith. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will also have his hands full with shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who comes into this season after inking a max deal this summer. Look for Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris to exploit the weak perimeter defense of Patrick Patterson and Jared Sullinger.
The rebounding talents of Andre Drummond will be key in keeping Raptors bigs Jonas Valanciunas and Sullinger off the offensive glass; the two combined for 5.5 offensive rebounds per game last year.
If the Pistons are to defeat Toronto, especially in the Air Canada Centre, where the Raptors went 32-9 last year, it will take a superb effort from nearly all involved.
Friday, 28 October 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Home
After a tough matchup in Canada, the Pistons will defend their home turf for the first time against the new-look Orlando Magic. While the rest of the NBA has embraced small ball, the Magic seem to have fought back against the new trend. In addition to incumbent big men Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have traded for Serge Ibaka and signed former Toronto Raptor Bismack Biyombo to a near-max contract. If the Magic are to start Gordon at small forward and Ibaka at the four, the Pistons will be able to shrink the floor considerably, as point guard Elfrid Payton has yet to show any semblance of a reliable jump shot.
A hot night from behind the arc will likely win the day here, as the aforementioned trio of Gordon, Ibaka, and Biyombo all do an excellent job of thwarting shots at the rim.
If all holds true to form, this clash against the Magic should be the Pistons first win of the new season, in front of the home crowd to boot.
Sunday, 30 October 2016 at 06:00 PM ET Home
In the first of several divisional clashes against the Bucks, the Pistons travel north to face one of the weirdest teams in the league. The Milwaukee Bucks are led by point guard/forward/freak of nature Giannis Antetokounmpo, who after last season’s All-Star Break averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game.
Marcus Morris will likely receive the responsibility of checking the Greek Freak, but he should have some assistance from Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond, as neither Jabari Parker nor Miles Plumlee are genuine threats from the perimeter. Stretching the floor will be paramount to offensive success against the Bucks, as they gave up an average of 28 points per game from threes last year, good for fifth worst in the league. Look for stretch bigs Jon Leuer and Henry Ellenson to find opportunities for open shots as well.
In their preseason matchup, the Pistons ran rampant over Milwaukee 102-78 behind 23 points and six three-pointers from KCP, so Stan Van Gundy and company will be looking to replicate that performance come Sunday.
Even missing Jackson for an extended time, the Pistons are certainly a playoff-caliber team, and if they want to live up to that status, the latter two games this week should be expected wins. The Raptors will present a challenge, as they look to be on track to finish near the top of the Eastern Conference once again. Next week the Pistons will again compete in some very winnable games, which bodes well for a team that last year finished only an even .500 prior to the All-Star break.