Pistons vs. Nuggets preview: The final countdown

Detroit Bad Boys

Tonight the Detroit Pistons play their penultimate game of the season. They host the Denver Nuggets in their end-of-season home stand that will conclude Sunday at 8 p.m. (the time was made official) when they’ll tip off their final game of the season against the Miami Heat.

Because there are teams losing in bunches to end the season with best lottery odds, the magic number for the Pistons is two. Detroit needs to lose out to secure the currently occupied second position in the draft lottery order that will give them a chance to draft no lower than sixth and a 40.1% combined chance to land a top-3 pick. Denver, on the other hand, is still in play for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Game Vitals

When: 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit Plus
Odds: Pistons +9.5

Analysis

It looks like Isaiah Stewart will join the ranks of Motown’s players unavailable for the game. The rookie with “remarkable unremarked all-around game” will be out due to personal reasons. Also out will be the usual suspects: Wayne Ellington, Jerami Grant, Frank Jackson, Cory Joseph, Rodney McGruder, Mason Plumlee, Dennis Smith Jr., and a Hamidou Diallo absence is also possible.

With Isaiah and Mason out, the Pistons will be particularly thin at the 5 spot against one of the better bigs in the NBA in Nikola Jokić. On the other hand, it’ll be interesting to see how the mixture of Sekou Doumbouya’s own recently unleashed magic and Tyler Cook’s brute strength will work against the probable MVP in Jokić.

The absence of shooters like Wayne and Frank means Saddiq Bey will need to add yet another at least 5 made triples game to his near-record number among rooks in league history. This would also be welcomed outcome to bring him closer to winning the race in made treys among first year players this season, as his biggest rival for the crown, Anthony Edwards, made four last night against the same Nuggets to cut the lead to four.

Also, due to Cory and Dennis being out, Killian Hayes should get a hefty chance to strengthen his second position in franchise history among Pistons rookies in games with 5 and more assists. Killian now sits at 13 such games, one above Joe D and 4 beneath Zeke.

Mile High City, in turn, may be near full strength. They’re one game behind Los Angeles Clippers for the third seed in West. And they rested some key pieces (Monte Morris and Michael Porter Jr.) yesterday, playing the first night of the back-to-back that ends tonight in Motor City. The question that might be risen however is whether they still won’t be too tempted to rest Jokić now.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (20-50)

Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Denver Nuggets (46-24)

Monte Morris, Austin Rivers, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokić

Have a good game fellow DBBers!!! There’s not many of them left.

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