Detroit Pistons game previews between October 31 and November 6, including games against: Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks.
The 2016-2017 NBA season has begun, and with it all the madness and chaos that follow. The Detroit Pistons finished their first week of action beginning with a disappointing but expected 18 point loss at the hands of the Toronto Raptors, but rebounding with a blowout defeat of the Orlando Magic.
Tobias Harris was the Pistons best scorer, leading the team in points through two games, while center Andre Drummond was his typical self, posting 20 rebounds against the Magic.
This week, Detroit again faces a slate of three games and will look to continue a strong start to their season with games against the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Denver Nuggets.
New York Knicks
Tuesday, 1 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Home
Although the Knicks are still Carmelo Anthony’s team, power forward/center/unicorn Kristaps Porzingis presents the more intriguing (and difficult) matchup. At 7’3”, the Latvian has been able to shoot over smaller defenders like Tobias Harris and drive right by larger slower foes such as Andre Drummond, so the Pistons will need to gameplan heavily to slow him down.
The self-described “superteam” has faltered in their first couple of contests, ranking 23rd and 26th respectively in offensive and defensive rating. Pistons fans should hope shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can begin to pick up his play, as he has averaged only 4.5 points per game against the Raptors and Magic, including giving up a 40 point outing to DeMar DeRozan in the season opener. Knicks shooting guard Courtney Lee has been suspect defensively, posting a minus-1.8 defensive box plus-minus, so this matchup may be just what KCP needs.
The Knicks will be coming off extended rest, but this game can, and should be a win for the Pistons.
Wednesday, 2 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
In their first back-to-back of the year, the Pistons travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets. Considered before the season to be one of the league’s worst teams, the Nets are a predictable 1-2, but both losses have come by a total of only seven points. This could be a potential trap game should the Pistons overlook their opponent here, so the responsibility will lie on Stan Van Gundy to keep his team on track.
Center Brook Lopez is the Nets most skilled player, but point guard Jeremy Lin and small forward Bojan Bogdanovic also present threats on the perimeter. Ish Smith, in particular, will be responsible for slowing the pick-and-roll game of Lin, who is averaging 1.07 points per possession on such actions.
The Nets defense has struggled thus far, ranking 21st in points allowed per game, so a well-run offense will be the key to a likely Pistons victory here.
Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home
In their final game of the week, the Pistons return home to face the Denver Nuggets. One of the league’s most under-the-radar teams in terms of young talent, the Nuggets possess a wealth of youth, but have struggled in finding the right combinations and lineups thus far. The starting frontcourt of Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic has been vulnerable defensively, posting a 111.5 defensive rating. Both big men are relatively weak defending the perimeter, so look for combo forwards Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris to exploit the matchup.
The Nuggets have also been hit with injuries; at the time of this writing, only nine players have played at least 20 minutes thus far. The return of Darrell Arthur and Gary Harris may shore up some weak points in Denver’s rotation.
Aside from the aforementioned duo, the Nuggets make their bones on the point-preventing end, ranking sixth in the league in defensive rating, so smart shot selection and mature playstyle will be keys in another winnable game here.
Much like last week, the Pistons face a fairly benign schedule, with the potential for at least a couple wins if not three in this case. Focus and execution will be key in their first back-to-back, so look for experienced players like Harris or Drummond to guide the young team through the process. Detroit will be playing four games next week, so executing in winnable contests will be important as they move toward a more hectic part of their season.