Jan 4, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Detroit Pistons shooting guard Jaden Ivey (23) reacts after a “no basket” call during the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
PREVIEW: Rockets at Pistons- Jan. 28
The Rockets will be without Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green, and Stephen Silas when they travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons Saturday night. Porter will miss his ninth straight game due to a left foot contusion, Green is out after suffering a right calf contusion on Thursday, while Silas will be in Charlotte for his father’s memorial service. The Rockets and Pistons will take the floor with the NBA’s two worst records.
Eye on the Pistons
Record: 13-37 (15th in Eastern Conference)
Offensive rating (rank): 111.0 (26th)
Defensive rating (rank): 118.4 (29th)
Only the Rockets have won fewer games than the Pistons this season. A big reason for Detroit’s disappointing season has been the loss of Cade Cunningham, who has played in only 12 games due to a shin injury that will keep him off the floor for the remainder of the season. Without Cunningham, Bojan Bogdanovich, who will be a popular trade deadline target, has carried the offensive mantle for the Pistons, averaging a career-high 21.3 points per game. While Cunningham won’t play Saturday, the fifth pick of July’s draft, Jaden Ivey, will. The rookie out of Purdue is averaging 15.1 points and 4.5 assists per game. Detroit doesn’t do a lot of things well, but they do lead the league in free throw attempts at 27.2 per game.
Matchup to watch: Alperen Sengun vs. Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren
The Pistons sport a pair of big, physical centers to throw at Sengun, who is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists in the eight games Kevin Porter Jr. has missed due to a left foot contusion. Neither player is a big offensive weapon for the Pistons, but Stewart has the ability to step out and make a three, while Duren is almost unstoppable at the rim. However, the big challenge for Sengun will be keeping both players off the offensive glass. Duren is fourth in the league, averaging 3.4 offensive rebounds per game, and he’s doing it in just 24.5 minutes, while Stewart grabs 2.4 offensive boards each night. Both players have the ability to get Sengun in foul trouble, an area he’s improved, though without Porter and Green, the Rockets’ offense has no chance if he’s off the floor for an extended period of time.
What I’m watching for
John Lucas will serve as the Rockets’ acting head coach with Stephen Silas in Charlotte for his father Paul’s memorial service, and while the gameplan will be Silas’, I’m interested to see if anything looks demonstrably different with Lucas in charge. Nothing noticeably changed when Lucas coached the team last month, but the Rockets were healthy then. They’ll be without both starting guards on Saturday, so Lucas might have to get creative in order to manufacture offense, especially if Sengun’s impact is limited.