It was the worst of times… then it was not that bad.
Coming off their worst loss of the season in Philadelphia against the 76ers, the Detroit Pistons cruised past the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday to right the ship. Now, they welcome the injury-ravaged New Orleans Pelicans to LCA in search of their second-straight win.
The win over Minnesota was big for a number of reasons, but it did come without the Wolves best player, Karl-Anthony Towns, who is out with injury. That luck continues for Detroit as it gets New Orleans without both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram tonight.
Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI
When: Friday, January 13 at 7 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (+6)
Early on, the Pelicans proved to be the upstart darling many expected after last season’s exciting run in the NBA Playoffs. With Zion, Ingram and the wily veteran CJ McCollum, New Orleans boasts one of the better trios in the league and is flush with really nice supplementary players like Jonas Valanciunas, Trey Murphy, Jose Alvarado and Herb Jones.
But it’s hard to ignore how badly the injury bug has bit this team.
Sure, not having Williamson and Ingram is a big deal, but even Jones, a defensive-minded steal in the second round of last year’s draft, is also out tonight. You’d think that would slow New Orleans down, but it really hasn’t as they sit third in the west and have been able to tread water at 5-5 over its past 10 games.
McCollum has taken on a bigger role with those injuries, averaging 26.2 points, 5.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game over his past 10 games. The Pistons need to slow him down to have any chance tonight. But, as has been the case recently, opposing shooting guards have feasted against the defense of Jaden Ivey and Alec Burks.
Hopefully it’s a spot where Killian Hayes can step in and handle that assignment himself.
Murphy is the other important guy here. The second-year player has been a revelation for the Pelicans as his size (6-foot-8) and shooting (40% from 3) has given teams trouble all season. He scored 20 points and hit four threes in the teams’ previous matchup this season.
Jalen Duren is expected to miss the game, meaning Isaiah Stewart (questionable) would be nice to get back against Valanciunas. The big man has had some big games against the Pistons dating back to his Raptors days and is still a threat to do so tonight.
Detroit Pistons (12-33): Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, Nerlens Noel
New Orleans Pelicans (25-17): CJ McCollum, Dyson Daniels, Trey Murphy, Naji Marshall, Jonas Valanciunas
Question of the Day:
As the Pistons tank their way to the bottom, would you rather their few and far between wins come against playoff teams and contenders or scrubs?