Pistons vs. Pacers preview: Ivey vs. Mathurin showdown after Rising Stars game

Detroit Bad Boys

It is quite fitting that the first game after the All Star game for the Pistons is against the Pacers. There was nothing notable about the Pistons during All Star weekend since they had no All Stars and nobody participating in the Saturday Night festivities. However, they did have Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey in the Rising Stars game and before losing their first game, Benedict Mathurin and Jaden Ivey had a bit of a square off.

Mathurin got the last laugh after claiming that Ivey could not guard him, as he proceeded to lead his team to victory and lead his team in scoring en route to the Rising Stars MVP. Now there will be a bit of extra motivation for Ivey to return the favor during a Regular Season game.

The Pistons and Pacers are classic rivals dating back to the Malace at the Palace, but from the comments by Mathurin, some comments about the Pistons passing on him in the draft by Tyrese Haliburton, and the fact they are in the same division, we have a bit of a new era rivalry between these two teams. Too bad it is a bit of a one-sided rivalry given the poor play of the Pistons this season.

Maybe that changes after the All Star break.

Game Vitals

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN
When: Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pacers (-11.5)

Analysis

The Pacers play at a fast pace and score a lot of points, but do not play a ton of defense. The Pistons don’t play a ton of defense either, but they are not able to keep up with the Pacers on offense. That has been the story in the first two matchups between these two teams, as the Pacers haves scored over 130 points in both games. The first matchup was a 23-point win by the Pacers, but the last matchup in mid-December was only an 8-point win for the Pacers

However, the Pacers have since acquired Pascal Siakam via trade and are a better team because of that, even if they have gone through a bit of an adjustment period since the trade. That is bound to happen when you acquire a new starter in the middle of the season.

Both teams are looking at different rosters since the last matchup, as the Pistons basically have a whole new rotation of players while the Pacers also sent out Buddy Hield and brought in Doug McDermott on top of the Siakam trade.

The story in this game will be the matchup between Benedict Mathurin and Jaden Ivey. Mathurin initiated the trash talk in the Rising Stars game and also backed it up, but Jaden Ivey is a prideful player so you know he will want to bring out his best in this matchup. They may not be matched up for the whole game, as Mathurin usually comes off the bench, but he might actually start today since Aaron Nesmith is out. Ivey has played well against the Pacers in his career, so hopefully that trend continues.

Another Pacers-related storyline that came out during All Star Break is a bit of a callout of the Pistons by Tyrese Haliburton for not drafting him in the 2020 draft. The Pistons opted to take a different point guard in the recently-waived Killian Hayes, instead of Haliburton, a decision that is looking worse and worse by the day. This was a known thing at the time of the draft, but I think it had mostly been forgotten about until it was brought back up and made it’s rounds during the All Star Break when there isn’t much to talk about.

I don’t think Haliburton is a player that needs extra motivation, but I am sure this will still motivate him even more every time these two teams face each other for the next decade.

The Pistons might have Isaiah Stewart tonight, as he returns from his ankle injury and awaits a decision from the NBA on punishment for his altercation with Drew Eubanks before the Suns game before the All Star Break. If Stewart does play, his defense will be invaluable on Pascal Siakam, a player who already had a huge game against the Pistons when he was still a Raptor and the Pistons ended their 28 game losing streak earlier this season. He had 35 points in that matchup.

The Pistons will likely still be without their biggest acquisition at the trade deadline, Quentin Grimes, as he is listed as doubtful for this game due to his knee strain. He did reportedly practice in full, so he should be back soon, but we will have to wait another game to see him make his debut.

Monty Williams claims he is going to play to win down the stretch and stop experimenting with lineups, so we will see if that actually happens. I hope he has a better idea of who his best 9 players are and sticks to playing those 9 players. Of course, he will probably have 12 players in the game by the halfway point of the 2nd quarter.

The Pacers are a better team than the Pistons, but the Pistons do play the Pacers tough, so hopefully some added motivation and fresh energy after the break can help them steal a game on the road.

Lineups

Detroit Pistons (8-46): Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Simone Fontecchio, Jalen Duren

Indiana Pacers (31-25): Tyrese Haliburton, Andrew Nembhard, Benedict Mathurin, Pascal Siakam, Myles Turner

Question of the Day

What are you looking for out of the Pistons post-All Star Break until the end of the season?

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