The Detroit Pistons face the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, aka the team it probably makes the most sense to model a rebuild around. After years of being sick of topping out at mediocre, the Grizz hit the reset button in 2017-18, finishing with 22 wins.
They subsequently added Jaren Jackson Jr and Ja Morant in consecutive drafts, sold off veterans and, perhaps more importantly, really hit on grabbing young players and other draft picks. Those include Grayson Allen, Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman and Desmond Bane.
When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +9
The story, as with every Pistons game, is who is actually playing tonight. The injury list is … extensive. The hero against Charlotte, Hamidou Diallo, has already been ruled out. Joining him are Jerami Grant (set to return Saturday against Philly, per Yahoo News), Mason Plumlee, Josh Jackson, Cory Joseph, Rodney McGruder, Dennis Smith Jr., and Wayne Ellington might miss as he is a game-time decision. The Grizzlies injury sheet is remarkably clean with only Allen being a game-time decision.
This is an opportunity for Killian Hayes to have a bounceback game after a pretty dreadful performance against the Hornets. Hayes was just 1-of-6 from the floor, turned down several opportunities on the offensive end, and committed seven turnovers, many on straight-up careless or reckless passes. It might have been his worst game of the season, and that is saying something.
Ja Morant won’t make it easy on the rookie. Morant is coming off a 37-point, 10-assist performance in a hard-fought win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Hayes and some of the other rookies will need to step up after a lackluster showing against the Hornets. Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Hayes shot a combined 4-for-23 from the field, and, frankly, looked a little lifeless. That is not something we’ve seen much of from this rookie class.
“The mental fog is there,” coach Dwane Casey told the media. “I told them (Tuesday) before the game, the older players have been through this. Now you’re playing starters’ minutes for the first time in your career and it takes a toll.”
A loss is assumed but hopefully, we can see a little more fight out of all these young players to at least make it interesting. After tonight, there are only five games to go.
Detroit Pistons (19-47)
Killian Hayes, Frank Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Sekou Doumbouya, Isaiah Stewart
Memphis Grizzlies (33-32)
Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
Question of the Game
What does Sekou Doumbouya do for an encore after his 20-point showing against the Hornets?