The NBA schedule was just released to the wild, meaning it is time to evaluate the games in the bone-dry time of the offseason. No, it is not like Major League Baseball of the National Football League to see which out of conference teams are on the schedule but the order of the games still matters! Plus, it is always interesting to see if the Pistons get some respect on the national stage. So I brought together our team of writers again and asked them what matchups they are looking forward to this season.
Noah Sall (@iamnoahsall), Palace of Pistons Staff Writer
December 9 at New Orleans – Okay, I will admit it. I want to see Zion against the Pistons! I am intrigued by his potential, especially after the dominant season at Duke. Besides Zion, the Pelicans are one of the more interesting teams in the NBA. They have depth, youth, and could be a dark horse candidate to make the playoffs. Seeing Detroit against such an explosive and athletic team will be very fascinating to watch.
December 23 vs. Philadelphia – I am all in for another Dre vs. Embiid matchup. I could have gone with the early season contest on October 26, but I want to see Philly after they have had a chance to build some chemistry. The Sixers are scary on paper, with a starting five that could potentially be Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid. That lineup looks terrifying, but floor spacing could be an issue and I am interested to see how the Pistons will match up. The game being home at Little Caesars Arena is just an added bonus.
April 3 vs. Miami – This game could easily be swapped with the game in South Beach on April 9. Playoff seeding is the major reason why I am keeping tabs on this one. Many people, primarily Heat fans, think their team is destined for a playoff spot. I believe it will be tougher than they expect. I see the Pistons and Heat battling it out at the end of the season for seeding, or even a playoff spot. The 5-8 seeds in the Eastern Conference are totally up for grabs, and games like this one are crucial.
Ashley Gross (@Ash_Ketchum313), Palace of Pistons Staff Writer
The Pistons need to take a page out of the University of Michigan Football playbook and create their own “revenge tour” for the 2019-2020 season. Detroit battled hard, but lost to some of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference last year. They have to set the tone and come out ready to make a statement to these powerhouses in the East.
November 23 at Milwaukee – This will be Detroit’s first time facing the Bucks after Milwaukee dominated and swept them in the first round of the playoffs last season. The Bucks are pegged as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and a candidate to make the NBA Finals. Detroit will need to regain their “manhood” so-to-speak and finally claim a win from the deep Bucks team while on the road.
December 18 vs. Toronto – Their December game against the Raptors is a game of both rivalry and hometown pride. For the last couple of years Raptors fans come down to Detroit and take out any home court advantage and overwhelm Little Caesars Arena with “We The North” chants. Even with Toronto losing Kawhi Leonard this offseason, Detroit needs to reclaim their home court advantage. Especially with the Raptors (on-paper) no longer considered a title contender.
December 23 vs. Philadelphia – This game is personal, but not for the team: for Andre Drummond. For years the back and forth battles between him and Embiid have been brutal to watch, mostly because Dre is always at the mercy of “The Process”. Drummond needs to finally punch the bully of the Eastern Conference in the mouth (figuratively speaking…) and stake his claim as one of the top-tier centers in the NBA. A win against Philly would provide much-needed confidence to this Pistons team. The Sixers have greatly improved their roster and are slated to make a deep run in the playoffs next season.
Tim Forkin (@TimForkinTV), Palace of Pistons Staff Writer, Video Coordinator
October 23 @ Indiana – Barring any more moves, the Pistons are going into next season with at least six new players on their roster, highlighted by former MVP Derrick Rose, Tony Snell and Markieff Morris. The first game of the season is a key simply just to see how the rotation has shaken out. A lot of the biggest questions of the offseason will be answered, most notably on how the new additions to the bench will improve the team. Along with the bench, it could be the first chance for Sekou Doumbouya to get his first NBA minutes.
January 13 vs New Orleans – As much as it’s been glorified, the Zion effect is real. The Pelicans first five games of the regular season are all nationally televised, and that is because of one Zion Williamson. The Pistons will be going up against a young and potentially dangerous Pelicans team, who completely revamped their rotation after trading away Anthony Davis. The young former Lakers acquired for Davis plus other highly-regarded rookies Jaxson Hayes, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker make this game intriguing enough. The matchup will show if the Pistons have anybody that can stop Zion, or if the Detroit guards are good enough to hold their own against a defensive backcourt of Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday.
March 11 @ Philadelphia – Many are picking Philadelphia to win the East, and the Pistons need to steal games from better teams in order to secure a seed higher than 8th next season. Center Joel Embiid has a nice rivalry with Andre Drummond, and a late season matchup between the two could be fiery. Philadelphia also acquired Al Horford this offseason, so it will be interesting to see how the Pistons match up on him and Embiid. In the case that Detroit steals a game from the 76ers earlier in the year, this final matchup could decide the season series.
Jacob Rogers (@JRogersNBA), Palace of Pistons Staff Writer
December 12 vs Dallas – Looking at this game at quick glance, one would think, “Why is Jake excited for this game?” Well the Pistons will be playing this game in Mexico City, as the NBA tries to expand globally. Not only is this an international stage for the Pistons, but it’s also the first time Pistons fans will be able to see the Mavericks new star tandem in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. All in all, it will be a fun game to watch.
February 20 vs Milwaukee – The second game I’m looking forward to seeing is when the Pistons take on the Milwaukee Bucks on February 20, 2020. This will be the Pistons first game post All-Star break, which means the trade deadline will have passed as well. Who knows, the team we see right now could look so much different come February.
April 3 vs. Miami – What intrigues me so much about this game is the fact that I could be have playoff implications. The Heat may have added Jimmy Butler this offseason, but they had to trade away Josh Richardson go get him, and didn’t add many more pieces to the roster that weren’t in South Beach last season. I believe the Pistons could make a push for the five seed this year, but this game against Miami could mean a lot. Plus, a key game at LCA in April? It doesn’t get much better than that.
(Featured image by Brian Sevald/Getty Images)