The Pistons came into Phoenix missing four of their five opening day starters. And coming out of this game, Detroit could possibly be without all five. However, the team from the Motor City did not let that weigh them down. Detroit had five contributors in double digits, and shot near perfect from the line. The Pistons out-rebounded the Suns, and shot better from three than the Suns. For the majority of this game, it was a back and forth affair with multiple lead changes. However, despite their best efforts, Detroit was simply out-manned. And Phoenix ultimately pulled through with the win, 108-102. The Phoenix Suns are 10-1 at home this season, so for Detroit to compete without several key contributors is one bright silver lining.
That all around great performance, however, was underscored by another key injury for the Pistons lineup. Veteran forward Bojan Bogdanovic, Detroit’s leading scorer and their most consistent player, left the game with a leg injury. Bogdanovic was stepped on his right ankle as he was trying to break away, and went down grabbing his knee in pain. If Bojan were to miss a significant period of time, it would be yet another devastating blow to their lineup. To say that their season has been riddled with injuries would simply be an understatement. Yet despite all of the injuries, Detroit didn’t lose a single game on their western road trip by double digits.
The following players have dealt with injuries/health issues for the #Pistons this season:
Cade Cunningham Jaden Ivey Bojan Bogdanovic Isaiah Stewart Alec Burks Nerlens Noel Killian Hayes Marvin Bagley III Jalen Duren Hamidou Diallo even during the preseason
*This list doesn’t include Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Livers, who both have missed games as well.
Pistons were lead by, of all people, Killian Hayes
On November 6th, I wrote an article that stated the Pistons officially had a Killian Hayes problem. At the time, he was averaging 2.7 points on 18 percent from the field. In the past two weeks, Hayes has completely flipped his game on its head, and has played with confidence unlike we have ever seen. In the past two weeks, Hayes has averaged 10.1 points shooting 39 percent from the field, 39 percent from three. He’s adding five assists, almost three boards, and over a steal a game. With Cade Cunningham possibly missing the rest of the season, Hayes will have the opportunity to run the offense alongside Jaden Ivey when he returns. And with how consistently better he’s getting in each game, he deserves all the minutes he can handle.
Another player who had a solid performance was Marvin Bagley III. The big man finished with 12 points and 12 boards, seven of them coming on the offensive end. He was able to work in the post, and even made a shot from beyond the arc. At times, Bagley struggled with the physicality that Deandre Ayton presented. However, he ultimately held his own, and will definitely keep getting playing time with that effort on the boards. Alec Burks was also effective off the bench (when he wasn’t playing the point guard, let’s not do that again). He finished with 17 points getting to the line for eight attempts, executing on seven of them. Kevin Knox continued his solid play, finishing with seven points and a positive +/- rating of +5. He’s continued to make the most of his opportunities, and could be in for significant minutes in the coming weeks.
Detroit showed significant growth over their road trip
Going into their western conference road trip without Cade Cunningham and Isaiah Stewart, the optics for the Pistons looked bleak. However, after spending a week and a half on the road, Detroit comes back home not losing a single game by double digits. In addition, they were able to beat the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz on back to back nights, two teams at the top of the western conference. Each game was winnable, every moment was teachable, and players across the rotation are getting opportunities to grow. When franchise players are on the sidelines, you want to see the players in your rotation play hard, and grow. The Pistons are doing just that.
On the weekend of “The Game” with the team down south, it’s only appropriate the Pistons host the Cavaliers on Sunday. Detroit will likely be without Bojan Bogdanovic and could possibly be without Jaden Ivey as well. Killian Hayes came into Friday night with an injury as well, and ultimately decided he could go against Phoenix. After playing 38 minutes on a potentially bad wheel, it will be interesting to monitor his status going into Sunday. Whoever Detroit will have available, one thing will be constant: the Pistons will play hard with whoever is in the lineup. The Pistons are coming back to the Motor City a better basketball team than when they left. And considering Detroit’s injury woes, that’s an impressive feat.
West Coast trip summary:
▫️5 point L @ LAC (#6 seed) ▫️7 point L @ LAL (#13) ▫️8 point L @ SAC (#8) ▫️2 point W @ DEN (#2) ▫️9 point W @ UTA (#4) ▫️6 point L @ PHX (#1)