Feb 8, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (23) throws a pass in the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
PREVIEW: Pistons at Rockets- March 31
The Rockets will try to end their seven-game losing streak when they open their final homestand of the season on Friday night against the Detroit Pistons in a battle of the two worst teams in the NBA. The Rockets had a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss in Brooklyn, but the Nets made 9-of-11 threes in the fourth quarter and closed the game on a 20-6 run.
Eye on the Pistons
Record: 16-60 (15th in Eastern Conference)
Offensive rating (rank): 110.1 (28th)
Defensive rating (rank): 117.6 (16th)
Like the Rockets, the Pistons enter Friday’s game on a seven-game losing streak, and they’ve lost 18-of-19, which has them at the bottom of the NBA’s standings, 1.5 games back of the Rockets for 29th. A shin injury has kept 2021 first-overall pick Cade Cunningham off the floor since Nov. 9, and they’ll be without leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovich for a 14th straight game due to an Achilles injury. The Pistons are all-in on the youth movement, led by 2022’s fifth overall pick, Jaden Ivey, and Detroit has gotten good play out of 2020s second overall pick James Wiseman, who was acquired from Golden State at the trade deadline. In 18 games with the Pistons, Wiseman is averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds.
Matchup to watch: Jalen Green vs. Jaden Ivey
Friday’s game features two of the most electric young guards in the NBA. Ivey has reached double-figures in 33 straight games, averaging 16 points in that span, but he’s already shown he can be a high-level playmaker in the NBA by dishing out six assists per game in that span. The 21-year-old out of Purdue really struggled with his 3-point shot to start his NBA career, but he’s shooting better than 36% from long range since the calendar flipped to 2023 after hitting just 31% during the 2022 portion of the Pistons’ schedule.
What I’m watching for
The Rockets are listing K.J. Martin as questionable to play on Friday due to a hip flexor strain. It would be the first game he’s missed all season if he’s unable to play. On a roster filled with young, inconsistent players, Martin has been a constant for the first 77 games of the season. Whether it’s been as a starter or coming off the bench, the 22-year-old, who is essentially the vet of this group, has been a constant. He’s averaging 12.7 points per game, but he’s taking fewer than nine shots. The Rockets don’t run plays for him, yet Martin is always impacting the offense because of his ability to move without the basketball. Martin was drafted 52nd overall in 2020, but you can easily make a case for him going in the top 10 if you do a redraft today.