Pistons vs. Pacers preview: Grant vs. Sabonis as two struggling teams face off

Detroit Bad Boys

With all eyes focused on the 2021 trade deadline, it’s easy to forget that there are still games to play. Today’s slate includes your Detroit Pistons facing off against a sputtering Indiana Pacers team currently sitting in 10th place in the East.

Both teams have struggled this season – Detroit came into this year knowing that they weren’t going to contend for the playoffs, while Indiana was coming off an impressive four-place finish in conference and fully expected to be one of the six best teams in the East.

They currently find themselves in a tie with the Bulls for ninth, but the East is so inept they are also only 2.5 games back from the fourth-place Atlanta Hawks. A win against the Pistons could do wonders for a team like the Pacers, but as many teams have found out so far this season, Detroit won’t just hand Indiana a W.

Game Vitals

When: Wednesday, March 24, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass


Domantas Sabonis has been a problem for Detroit for years now, and he’s continued that trend so far this season. The last time he faced the Pistons, he dominated in every facet of the game – 26 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, which was good for a team-best +22, and the Pacers walked away with a 111-95 win. Detroit did not have Mason Plumlee for that contest, and Sabonis has struggled against bigger centers, but that doesn’t mean that Plumlee alone will be able to stop the Pacers’ big-man from controlling the game.

It should be no surprise that Sabonis should be the Pistons main concern tonight. He’s Indiana’s best player and playing the best basketball of his career. He’s currently averaging career highs in points (20.2), assists (6.2), steals (1.2), and free-throw attempts per game (5.7); he’s also chipping in 11.2 rebounds per game, which isn’t a career high, but still impressive nonetheless. If Detroit is going to find a way to win, they’ll have to limit Sabonis as much as possible – which would necessitate a clean game by both Plumlee and Isaiah Stewart.

For Indiana, all eyes will be squarely focused on Jerami Grant, who’s recent struggles have coincided with Detroit looking a hell of a lot less feisty, as many of their recent losses haven’t been closely contested.

Grant’s shooting woes, which one should have expected due to the load he’s had to carry, coupled with Detroit’s abysmal team shooting has been a recipe for disaster. The Pistons have shot 32.1% from three over their past five games, and they’re only averaging 105.4 points per 100 possessions over that same stretch, which equates to the 28th ranked offense in the league.

If Detroit is able to notch a scratch in the win column, they’ll need better shooting performances from Grant and Josh Jackson – who have shot a combined 19/76 (25%) from three over their past 10 games. That simply won’t get the job done, even against a struggling team like the Indiana Pacers.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons

Delon Wright, Frank Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee

Indiana Pacers

Justin Holiday, Edmond Sumner, Caris LeVert, Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis

Question of the Game

Which of these teams, if any, makes a trade before the deadline? Who gets moved, and where?

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