Why Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose are sitting out of Detroit Pistons’ game vs. Atlanta Hawks

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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Detroit Pistons stars Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose

each picked up his first Did Not Play of the season Sunday.

The two veterans will rest during the Pistons’ road game against the Atlanta Hawks, which will be the first game of a road-home back-to-back. Detroit will host the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. 

Despite leading by eight points with four minutes left, the Pistons needed two overtimes to resolve their home opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. Griffin and Rose played the entirety of both overtime periods, and logged a total of 44 and 33 minutes, respectively/​​​​​​​, Saturday.

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Dwane Casey said he played Griffin and Rose longer than he wanted to on Saturday. However, he didn’t say if resting Griffin and Rose during the first half of back-to-back slates will be standard protocol this season. 

“We’ll see, we’ll play it by ear,” Casey said. “Their bodies will tell them what to do. They played those big minutes in the Cleveland game. Didn’t want to play them that many minutes, but the game went that way. We didn’t want to run them to the ground because of the back-to-back tomorrow night. That’s the reason. I don’t want to say this is going to be the plan throughout the year. Their bodies and how they feel will lend a lot to how we want to do it.” 

Griffin is playing heavy minutes for the first time in a year, since knee surgery prematurely ended his 2019-20 season in December of 2019. Rose was on a minutes restriction last season, and played more than 33 minutes in just five of his 50 games. 

It remains to be seen if Griffin and Rose will log more absences for rest this season. But Monday is the first of nine back-to-back sets the Pistons will play during the first half of their season. It sets a precedent that more schedule-related rests could be in play for the two veterans. 

It opens more minutes for Detroit’s young players. Casey promoted rookie Saddiq Bey to the starting lineup Monday, and fourth-year forward Josh Jackson received the start over Delon Wright. With Jahlil Okafor out, Casey said Isaiah Stewart could also make his NBA debut. 

While the Pistons would certainly like to have Griffin and Rose available most nights, Casey sees upside on the young players receiving an opportunity to prove themselves. 

“Hopefully it’s not going to be an ongoing thing, we’ll see,” Casey said. “If it is, that’s why this year is for the young players. It’s a great opportunity for them to come in and play and compete against one of the top offenses in the league. That’s one reason why we’re having this season, for these guys to play and get meaningful minutes, whether it’s under the circumstance of guys resting or hurt or whatever it is. They’re getting the opportunity.” 

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model.

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