Pistons vs. Grizzlies preview: Detroit aims to slow down Ja Morant and surging Grizzlies

Detroit Bad Boys

For the second time in a calendar week, the Detroit Pistons will match up against the streaking Memphis Grizzlies, who are have won four straight games and now sit just a half game back of the New Orleans Pelicans for first place in the Western Conference.

The Grizzlies have started to play their best basketball of the season, which shouldn’t bode well for the Pistons. But it’s probably better for Detroit to have a quick rematch with Memphis, rather than delaying their rendezvous for later in the season. The memories of what went right (not a lot) and what they could improve upon (a lot) will be fresh on the minds of the players and coaching staff alike.

This could end up being an advantage for the Pistons.

Game Vitals

When: 8 p.m. ET
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +10

Analysis

In their previous encounter, the Grizzlies sprinted out of the gate, pounced on the Pistons early, were up 16 points heading into the second quarter, and eventually cruised to a double-digit win en route to 122 points scored.

Memphis gutted Detroit in a variety of ways. They out-rebounded the Pistons (46-39) and decimated them in the paint (56-38). They also poured in 15 three-pointers, and got the charity stripe 29 times. That can’t happen again.

If Detroit expects a better result this time around, they’ll have to contain the Grizzlies’ front court. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke combined to score 36 points on 59% shooting from the floor and grabbed 7 offensive boards. Thankfully, Steven Adams should be back in the line-up, so Detroit may not have to contend with the ultra-springy small ball line-ups that troubled them so much before. Less thankfully, they still have to deal with Steven Adams.

The good news for Detroit, they’ve played much better on the defensive side of the floor in their past couple of games. They held the Miami Heat to under 100 points, and limited the NBA’s 6th-ranked offense in the Pelicans to just 104 points (albeit, the Pistons fell in a close game). They’ll have to continue to hang their hat on team defense if they’re going to expect a different result against Ja Morant and the surging Grizzlies.

Speaking of Ja Morant, that brings us to our…

Marquee Matchup

Ja Morant vs. Killian Hayes

Morant dismantled Detroit in their last meeting – he lead all scorers with 33 points (52% shooting), and pitched in 10 assists and 5 boards. He’s an MVP candidate averaging 28.3 points, 7.6 assists, and 6.6 boards – and more importantly than his personal stats, he’s got the Grizzlies playing winning basketball, when many thought they may regress this season.

With Morant, you’ll get what you’ve come to expect. He breaks down the defense with a lightning quick first step, and has Ivey-esque athleticism to finish above defenders in the paint. That combined with his improved three point shooting (38%), makes him a tough matchup for any team-defense to game-plan for.

While Morant got the better of Hayes’ and the Pistons last time around, Killian still played well in that game. He has continued to build on his resurgent season and has averaged an impressive 14.6 points, 7.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds while only allowing 1.9 turnovers per game over his last seven games.

Hayes’ newfound confidence is a sight to behold. Whether that be his belief in the mid range, willingness to shoot the three, or wizard-like passes to shooters and cutters (not to mention his all around defense), it’s all start to come around for the 21 year old point guard.

If Detroit finds a way to win this game, you can bet that Hayes’ fingerprints will be all over the floor.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (7-20)

Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley

Memphis Grizzlies (16-9)

Ja Morant, John Konchar, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

Question of the Day

Jaden Ivey has only shot above 40% from the floor twice in his past 11 games – are you concerned?

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