Pistons vs. Hawks preview: Play-in and lottery implications at stake in Atlanta

Detroit Bad Boys

There’s only 10 games remaining in this jalopy of a Detroit Pistons season. Game 73 brings Detroit to Atlanta to take on the 35-36 Hawks who are coming off a loss to fellow NBA bottom-dweller the San Antonio Spurs.

Atlanta will likely remain in the play-in, as they currently sit four games back of the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets. But the Hawks are only a half game up on the Toronto Raptors for the 8th seed. Atlanta would prefer to host a play-in game and have two bites at the apple to make the postseason so one would assume that they’ll go full boar to knock down what’s left of your Detroit Pistons.

Game Vitals

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Detroit +14


Detroit has successfully employed tank mode, as they’ve lost 14 of their last 15 games, including three straight, and now sit alone at the bottom of the NBA standings. They’ve nearly locked up the top odds for the No. 1 pick (alongside Houston and San Antonio), and at this point, they’ll aim to continue their losing ways and try to finish dead last. That would ensure they protect themselves from falling too far down the lottery, should a doomsday lottery situation rear its hideous head.

One way to help the cause, and at least have some fun while you’re at it, is to continue to deploy the two-big lineup featuring James Wiseman and Jalen Duren. The Pistons have only unleashed this two-man rotation in two previous games for a total of 10 minutes, but in those glorious 10 minutes, the duo has combined for an impressive -27.8 net rating. Tanktastic.

It’s clunky, and doesn’t make any sense, but when you look at who’s been getting a major chunk of minutes over the last few games, including Eugene Omoruyi, Rodney McGruder, and RJ Hampton… the only question you should be asking yourself is, why not?

And while we’re at it, let’s give a shoutout to McGruder. He’s been a consummate professional since he’s arrived in Detroit, and when he has been thrusted into the line-up, he’s been relatively productive. Over his last five games, in 33 minutes per, he’s averaged an impressive 16 points and 6 boards, while shooting 45% from the floor and 51% from three.

Would another solid game from McGruder, coupled with a sprinkling of the jumbo line-up be enough to knock down the Hawks? Or would the Saddiq Bey revenge game stifle that effort?

Projected Lineups

Atlanta Hawks (35-36)

Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, Clint Capela

Detroit Pistons (16-56)

Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Rodney McGruder, Marvin Bagley III, James Wiseman

Question of the Day

What, if anything, has stood out to you at the end of the season, that brings you hope for next season?

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