Pistons vs. Rockets preview: Another Cunningham-Green showdown missing one of them

Detroit Bad Boys

As I alluded to in the title, this matchup will be another Pistons-Rockets game in which one of Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green has missed the game. The two players will be forever tied together as the number 1 and number 2 picks in the 2021 Draft, but they will now only have faced off twice in the 6 matchups between these two teams since both players were drafted.

In 2021, Jalen Green missed the first matchup between these two teams. Cade Cunningham missed both matchups last season. Both players played in the January 1 matchup this season, but you could argue Cade missed the game with how bad he played. Now, Cade is injured and will not play in this matchup.

The Pistons are coming off a blowout loss to the 5-win San Antonio Spurs, which shows you the current state of this team. It is not good, and it probably won’t get any better against a better Rockets team that already blew out the Pistons in their last matchup.

Game Vitals

Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI
When: Friday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Rockets (-7.5)

Analysis

The Rockets will be without Dillon Brooks, an actually useful veteran that has helped establish more of a winning culture along with Fred VanVleet in Houston. It must be nice to have veterans that do that.

Many of the Rockets young players outside of Jalen Green have made huge improvements and that has been just as much of a factor as their veteran additions.

One of the biggest reasons for the Rockets improvement has been the rise of Alperen Sengun. A fellow pick in the 2021 draft, he enters this game looking like an All Star with averages of 21.6 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 54% from the field. The only “flaw” to his game has been his 3 point shooting, which currently sits at 28.6 percent, but he is only taking 2 per game.

Jalen Green hasn’t quite made the leap the Rockets were expecting, but he has settled into a complementary role alongside Sengun and the veterans and they find themselves in the Play-In hunt in the Western Conference.

The Pistons with Cade Cunningham were borderline unwatchable, but without Cade Cunningham they are certifiably unwatchable. Killian Hayes has regressed back to never looking to shoot after returning from illness. Jaden Ivey has played pretty well outside of the turnovers. Jalen Duren has played well offensively, but has struggled to defend every single opposing center. Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic are even starting to get their shooting back, but none of it really matters.

The Pistons cannot defend anybody, and until the communication and effort improve on the defensive end, they are not going to be winning very many games. Even with Burks and Bogdanovic shooting lights out, the team cannot generate enough stops to keep up with opposing teams.

The Pistons might be getting Isaiah Stewart back, which will help their defense, but not enough to the point where they are able to compete with NBA teams every night.

At this point, I don’t think there is a single lineup change Monty Williams can make to get this team playing better. They just have to ride it out and hope that a few trades at the deadline will make them a slightly better team. Getting Cade Cunningham back will help too, but as we saw before he went down, this team still isn’t winning games.

Lineups

Detroit Pistons (3-35): Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanvoic, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren

Houston Rockets (18-18): Fred VanVleet, Jalen Green, Jae’Sean Tate, Jabari Smith, Alperen Sengun

Question of the Day

How active do you think the Pistons will be in the trade market?

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