Analysis: Six takeaways from the Pistons’ 2022-23 schedule

Detroit News

Detroit — Fans of the Detroit Pistons and NBA celebrated their late-summer holiday, with Wednesday afternoons’ release of the regular-season schedule for the 2022-23 season.

The Pistons collaborated with popular clothing brand Detroit vs. Everybody to announce their regular-season schedule, which will begin in Little Caesars Arena on Oct. 19 against the Orlando Magic.

Detroit will also play an international game against the Chicago Bulls when the two divisional rivals meet in Paris on Jan. 19.

The Pistons have 13 back-to-backs this season, as the league prioritizes the reduction of travel between games for teams on the road. NBA teams are projected to travel more than 50,000 fewer miles than last season.

Here are six takeaways from the Pistons’ regular-season schedule:

First 20 games: The first 20 games of any season are vital for a team to get off to a good start, whether it’s the reigning champions, a team hoping to contend for the playoffs, or in the Pistons’ case, a team in the midst of a rebuild.

Detroit’s first 20 games feature 10 teams that qualified for the playoffs last season, including back-to-back road games against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. The Pistons will see Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics for the first time in TD Garden on Nov. 9, and the back end of that stretch is a west-coast trip.

The first four games against the Magic, Knicks, Pacers and Wizards might look like winnable games on paper, but all four of those teams got better during the course of the offseason. The Magic beefed up the roster with No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, the Knicks added former Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson, the Pacers drafted Bennedict Mathurin with the No. 6 overall pick and the Wizards re-signed Bradley Beal and selected Johnny Davis at No. 10.

Those first four games, the latter three on the road, will be a good test for Detroit’s young core right out of the gate.

West-coast road trip: The Pistons will face Saginaw native Draymond Green and the defending-champion Golden State Warriors on Oct. 30 at LCA. That game will be Detroit’s first game against a Western Conference opponent of the season.

The real test against the West begins when the Pistons make a six-game trek in mid-November. Detroit will face the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns in a span of nine days.

The game against the Lakers on Nov. 18 is the second game of a back-to-back after playing the Clippers — with a healthy Kawhi Leonard — the night before. Detroit hasn’t had much success in Arena (formerly Staples Center) in recent years, so it’ll be a real test for a team with a nucleus full of young players.

Teal jerseys: Fans will have an opportunity to see the Pistons’ new Classic teal jerseys up close and personal eight times at home. The franchise will host “Teal Takeover” themed nights at Little Caesars Arena for the following games: Oct. 28 vs. Atlanta; Oct. 30 vs. Golden State; Dec. 4 vs. Memphis; Dec. 18 vs. Brooklyn; Dec. 20 vs. Utah; Feb. 3 vs. Charlotte; Feb. 4 vs. Phoenix; and April 4 vs. Miami.

All-Star break: The Pistons will have back-to-back road games against the Toronto Raptors (Feb. 12) and Boston Celtics (Feb. 15) before most of the team catches a breather during the All-Star break. The team should be quite familiar with the Celtics by that time, since it’ll be the fourth and final meeting of the regular season with the defending Eastern Conference champs.

This season’s All-Star Game will be held on Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Pistons could have legitimate representation from at least two players. Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and depending on how well Jalen Duren performs, could be candidates for the Rising Stars Challenge, a matchup between the league’s top rookies and sophomores. Cunningham was named the MVP in last year’s revamped Rising Stars game.

After the All-Star festivities end, the team will hit the road again to play at Orlando on Feb. 23.

►No ESPN/ABC games: The Pistons won just 23 games last season, which could contribute to the low amount of nationally televised games. Detroit will be featured on a national broadcast four times. TNT will broadcast the team’s road contest against the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 10, while NBA TV will broadcast the Dec. 1 matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, the Jan. 19 game in Paris against the Chicago Bulls and the home contest against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 27.

However, the rebuilding Pistons won’t have an opportunity to be showcased on the primetime stages of ESPN or ABC. One could make the argument that the Pistons should have at least one ESPN/ABC game due to the intriguing backcourt of Cunningham, the No. 1 pick from last year’s draft, and this year’s explosive No. 5 pick, Jaden Ivey.

Just because the Pistons weren’t assigned any ESPN/ABC games doesn’t mean it’s particularly set in stone. Detroit can earn more opportunities to make it on the small screen if the team performs well. The league’s major television partners (TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV) will present flexible scheduling throughout the regular season to provide the most compelling matchups.

Tough stretch of road games to close season: The Pistons will have a difficult slate of games to close the season. Seven of those final 12 contests are held on the road. Detroit finished 10-31 in the opposing team’s arena last season.

Starting on March 16, the Pistons will host the Denver Nuggets, led by back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, before Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat visit on March 19.

A two-game road trip is next against Atlanta (March 21) and Toronto (March 24), two teams that are usually vying for the backend of Eastern Conference playoff spots.

Detroit will host the Bucks on March 27 before hitting the road for a three-game trip against the top three lottery picks from this year’s draft: Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder (March 29), Jabari Smith and the Houston Rockets (March 31) and Banchero and the Orlando Magic (Apr. 2).

The Pistons’ final two games inside Little Caesars Arena is a back-to-back against the Heat and the Brooklyn Nets on Apr. 4 and 5. The team will close the regular season with a couple of games against Central Division rivals in the Indiana Pacers (Apr. 7) and the Chicago Bulls (Apr. 9).

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