Pistons vs Nets preview: Back-to-Back tonight, and no Cade Cunningham

Detroit Bad Boys

After securing their first win of the season against the Orlando Magic, the Detroit Pistons traveled east to Brooklyn and will look to build confidence against the preseason favorites.

They do so with less fanfare than they brought to Little Caesars Arena the night before when number 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham debuted. Cunningham will sit for injury management reasons against the Nets who are also looking to build confidence early in the season.

Game Vitals

When: 7:30 PM ET
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit, YES
Odds: Pistons +12


It’s no coincidence that the Pistons’ first win of the season came on the same night as their best offensive output thus far. Much of that came from the bench unit (more on that in a minute), who all ended with positive plus/minuses.

Despite the starting lineup’s poor shooting night, everything seemed to flow better with Cade Cunningham in the midst. Actions were a bit crisper. Decisions were made in a swifter manner. Against the Nets, they’ll need to build on that without one of the catalysts of the previous night.

The Nets currently rank just behind the Pistons in defensive rating but they routinely perform much worse than that on a regular basis. Effort is frequently an issue in Brooklyn and it’s not a stretch to think that might pop up tonight in a game the Nets surely expect to win. If that happens, the starters will need to be active off the ball and find openings that the defense gives them.

The Detroit bench was terrific last night, fueled by Kelly Olynyk’s excellent play. Olynyk shot well from deep but he also attacked closeouts effectively, got into the paint, and made things happen for the rest of his teammates. The second unit’s ability to drive closer to the basket brings them opportunities the starters don’t always get and it will need to continue against the Nets. If the Pistons have any chance of winning, Olynyk and crew will need to stand out.

The reality is that the starting lineups are about as big a mismatch as you’ll find in the league. Kevin Durant is unguardable by even the best defenders in the world and while the Pistons have good defenders, they don’t have anyone who’s likely to cause Durant much trouble.

James Harden has struggled a bit more to start the year, undoubtedly in part because of the league’s new officiating emphases.

You’d expect Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, and Saddiq Bey to all get some time defending Harden. Limiting the Nets’ lead guard is never easy, but there’s more of a blueprint than there is in slowing Durant.

The flip side of that is James Harden has to guard someone on the other end of the floor. If the Nets choose to “hide” him on Hayes, the second-year guard has to be aggressive and make Brooklyn pay as much as possible.

A lot needs to happen for the Pistons to pull a win off in Brooklyn, and it all begins with playing hard and punishing the Nets’ defensive weaknesses. If Detroit does that and they shoot well for a change, there may be some hope.

Projected Lineups

Brooklyn Nets (3-3)
James Harden, Joe Harris, Bruce Brown, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin

Detroit Pistons (1-4)
Killian Hayes. Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Day

Will Killian Hayes see fourth-quarter minutes?

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