The NBA released its 2021-22 schedule Friday, and we now have clarity on what next season will look like for the Detroit Pistons.
It’ll be a big season for the franchise after it drafted Cade Cunningham first overall in July. Jerami Grant will return from his Olympic stint with the U.S. men’s basketball team, and Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey will showcase their growth after earning All-Rookie honors last season.
It’ll also be a big season for fans, who should be able to attend games at Little Caesars Arena after a pandemic season that limited capacity to 750 attendees.
Here are the takeaways from the Pistons’ 2021-22 schedule.
Pistons fans won’t have to wait for Cunningham’s home debut
For the first time in three seasons, the Pistons will open their schedule at home by hosting the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 20. It could be a marquee game, considering the division foes had a historic rivalry in the past, and the Bulls swung for the fences this offseason by trading for DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball.
More notably, it’ll be Cunningham’s debut at Little Caesars Arena. Expect an electric atmosphere, especially since it could be the first time the arena will be packed with fans since the pandemic restrictions lifted. Detroit opens with a home-and-away series against Chicago; the second game is scheduled for Oct. 23.
Pistons’ first game against Jalen Green, Rockets will be on national TV
As of now, the Pistons have one game to air on national TV. But it’ll be a doozy. ESPN will broadcast the first contest between Detroit and the Rockets in Houston on Nov. 10.
It’ll be the first contest between Cunningham and Jalen Green, who compared the city of Detroit to the G League bubble in a Yahoo Sports feature earlier this week and doesn’t seem happy the franchise passed over him. The Pistons will host Green, the No. 2 pick, and the Rockets on Dec. 18 for a Saturday noon start.
WHAT WE LEARNED THIS SUMMER: Cade Cunningham looked like the Pistons’ best player
Schedule starts tough, has plenty of rest
Fifteen of Detroit’s first 22 games will be played against teams that qualified for the playoffs or play-in tournament last season. Two of those games will be played against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. One will be played against the runner-up Phoenix Suns, and they’ll have two games each against the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers.
Include the season-opening series against the Bulls, who should comfortably be in the playoff mix, and it’s a brutal first six weeks for a Pistons team that won 20 games last season.
However, the schedule should be easier than last year’s in a couple key areas. The Pistons have 12 back-to-back sets, a significant reduction from last year’s 17. Not counting All-Star weekend, they will also have three periods with at least three consecutive days of rest — Nov. 6-9, Dec. 3-5 and Jan. 15-17.
Longest home and road stands will happen back-to-back
The Pistons will enjoy nine consecutive days in Detroit in November, hosting five straight games (Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat) from Nov. 15-23. They follow that with a five-game road trip, starting at Milwaukee on Nov. 24 and concluding against Phoenix on Dec. 2.