We are now officially on the home stretch, with only 20 games left in the 2022-2023 season.
Tonight, the Pistons play host to their division rival; the Chicago Bulls. Though they enter tonight’s contest on the back of a 104-98 loss to the Toronto Raptors, the Bulls had been playing better since signing veteran guard Patrick Beverley.
Following a shorthanded loss to the Charlotte Hornets Monday night, Detroit should field a more competitive line-up this evening with Jaden Ivey set to return and Bojan Bogandovic listed as probable for tonight’s contest.
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +5
When I think about the 2022-2023 Chicago Bulls, I can’t help but think about those Blake Griffin-led Detroit teams towards the end of the 2010’s.
In February of 2018, Stan Van Gundy made the now infamous decision to trade for Blake Griffin. Like Van Gundy, Bulls management pushed all their chips towards the middle of the table, making the win-now move to acquire dual All Star center, Nikola Vucevic, in the final hours of the 2021 trade deadline.
In the wake of their All Star acquisition, each franchise faltered in their pursuit of the playoffs. With the Bulls and Pistons missing the playoffs in 2021 and 2018, respectively.
But, following a summer spent building chemistry and gelling together, each of the Central Division Rivals made a leap up the standings, booking in a first round series against the fearsome Milwaukee Bucks (2019 for Detroit, 2021 for Chicago).
However, the fun of scraping into the playoffs quickly wore off, with the Bucks easily dispatching of either franchise in their first round meeting. They swept the Pistons in 4 games in 2019 and completed a ‘5-game sweep’ of Bulls last postseason.
In the ensuing campaign, after being demoralized by the cross-town rival Bucks, each of the Pistons and Bulls faltered out of the gates. Injuries to key personal and a lack of depth derailed any chance of these teams building on the previous seasons ‘success’.
The 2019-2020 Pistons began the season without Blake Griffin, and when he returned he looked like a shell of the All NBA player the season prior.
The Bulls started the current season without Lonzo Ball, and while Ball isn’t close to the caliber of player Griffin was in 2019, Chicago has been unable to recapture any off their 2021-2022 success without the talented guard.
Unlike Detroit in 2020, Chicago decided to keep their struggling core in-tact through the recent trade deadline. Pistons fans will recall Arn Tellem and Ed Stefanski pulling the plug on the Andre Drummond era, dealing the franchise centerpiece to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It’s hard to say whether or not the Bulls should of ‘blow-up’ the core of their team this past deadline. For Detroit, the decision to move on from Drummond commenced a long awaited rebuild.
Things aren’t as a clear for the Bulls. With this season’s first round draft selection owned by the Orlando Magic (this pick was included in the Vucevic deal in 20201), bottoming out this season made little sense.
On the flip-side, Nikola Vucevic is in the final year of his contact, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. Therefore creating a case for trading the dual All Star prior to February’s trade deadline, to avoid the disastrous possibility of the veteran big leaving in free agency this summer. A nightmare considering he was the man the Bulls traded the farm for back at the beginning of their win-now pursuit.
Amidst all the doom of this current season for Detroit, Chicago’s outlook should give Piston fans hope for the immediate future.
Detroit Pistons (15-47):
Jaden Ivey, Killian Hayes, Bojan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley, James Wiseman
Chicago Bulls (28-34):
Patrick Beverley, Alex Caruso, Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic
Question of the Day
If you were the Bulls, what would you do this offseason — blow it up or run it back?