News & Views: Road woes, Killian Hayes’ surge and Saddiq Bey’s playmaking

Detroit News

Miami — The Pistons are back on the road and still shorthanded without Cade Cunningham and Isaiah Livers, but the team looks to lock back in after a mental lapse against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The team had an impressive overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks, which marked a big step forward in terms of maturation, but that same focus didn’t carry over to Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies.

Jaden Ivey is back in the starting lineup after returning from his knee injury and he’s playing alongside Killian Hayes, who is playing with confidence, intentionality and assertion. Saddiq Bey, a typical starter for the Pistons, is navigating a new role with the team’s second unit. Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Stewart are gaining more experience playing alongside each other in a two-big lineup.

This mini-road trip will provide the Pistons another opportunity to grow and compete against some of the best teams in the league. And if Livers returns from his right shoulder injury in the latter portion of the trip, Detroit will have a nearly-healthy roster for the first time this season.

This edition of News & Views looks at what’s ahead for the Pistons on their three-game road trip, Killian Hayes’ recent surge and Bey’s playmaking:

News: The Pistons have won two of their last four road games.

Views: It took the Pistons 10 tries, but they finally pulled out a win outside of Little Caesars Arena when they upset the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 22. They followed up one night later with another decisive road victory against the shockingly formidable Utah Jazz. If Detroit learned anything during its six-game western swing, it’s how to compete without falling into a large deficit.

Now, the team is back on the road for three games, against the Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans before they conclude with a rematch against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

Miami fell to the Grizzlies on Monday night without Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., both of whom dominated the Pistons in Sunday’s loss. New Orleans and Memphis are near the top of the league’s standings, fourth and sixth, respectively. If Detroit wants to improve its poor road record (2-11), there needs to be a sense of urgency from the tipoff until the final buzzer sounds.

News: Killian Hayes is averaging 15.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 2.8 steals in his last five games.

Views: Something has clicked for Killian Hayes, and it’s paying off for the Pistons. Since his insertion into the starting lineup 12 games ago, the third-year guard is playing the best basketball of his career. Hayes’ confidence is shining through with his ability to get to the mid-range area. He’s shooting the ball from the perimeter without hesitation. He’s defending at a high level as well, particularly in Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies, when he had two blocks on Morant.

Detroit is a better team when Hayes is playing well, and with Cade Cunningham sidelined without a timetable for his return, Hayes is using his new-found opportunity to prove that he can play in this league at a high level. Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants Hayes’ consistency to continue.

“Young guys are going to come at their own pace,” Casey said of Hayes on Sunday. “That’s why you have to have patience and I think he’s gotten enough on his resume. He’s taking steps. Now, can those steps go up a lot longer? Can he continue? Is he going to have consistency? I’d say the last six or seven games, he’s been consistent. Consistent in doing his job, being a quarterback, defending, and if the game gives him a shot, he takes it.”

News: Saddiq Bey compiled a season-high seven assists in Sunday’s loss to the Grizzlies.

Views: When Saddiq Bey comes up in basketball conversations, it’s usually centered around his 3-point shooting or recent emphasis on putting the ball on the floor to score inside. However, the third-year forward showed an ability to facilitate when Memphis’ defense denied him of a quality shot on Sunday. Bey finished with seven assists, one shy of his career-high of eight, which he tallied on Feb. 3 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The next level of Bey’s game could be unlocking that playmaking ability. He’ll have the opportunity often, especially since he’s Detroit’s first offensive option off the bench. Defenses will try to run him off the 3-point line, and if he drives to the basket, it opens the floor for other 3-point shooters.

Pistons big Marvin Bagley discussed Bey’s passing skills after Monday’s practice.

“He can pass the ball very well,” Bagley said. “He sees those kick-outs. He sees those drop-offs. It’s good to see him doing what he does and playing his game. Any one of our guys on this team, when they play well, I’m always excited to see that. Hopefully, he can continue that and we can continue to be there right with them.”

Pistons at Pelicans

Tipoff: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans

TV/radio: BSD/97.1

Outlook: The Pistons and Pelicans will meet for the first time this season on Wednesday in the second game of their seventh back-to-back of the season. Both teams met in the preseason and the Pelicans prevailed in a 107-101 victory, powered by 28 points by Jose Alvarado. Saddiq Bey scored 23 for Detroit in that matchup. New Orleans has won 15 of the last 20 meetings dating back to the 2012-13 season.

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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