Pistons vs Rockets preview: Cade Cunningham vs Jalen Green on national TV

Cade Cunningham vs. Jalen Green on National Television. Do I have to say more?

While Cade Cunningham’s debut was highly anticipated, Detroit Pistons fans have had this game circled on their schedule ever since Jalen Green claimed responsibility; “I wanted to be the first choice, but location wise, I didn’t want to be in Detroit.

Entering Wednesday night, the Pistons and Houston Rockets combined for just two wins and 17 losses. The duo currently have two of the league’s three worst records, which in most circumstances would amount to a boring viewing.

However, although both teams are poor, this game still has a lot to offer. The main attraction is clear; the individual battle between Cunningham and Green, in addition, both teams have an abundance of young talent on their rosters which should make for an exciting game.

Vital elements of the game

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Or: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
To concern: Bally Sports Detroit or NBA League Pass
Chances: Pistons +1.5

Analysis

The last half decade has been full of struggles for the Pistons, as fans we’ve been subjected to an insurmountable offense, third-string pointers heading for the glue factory, “stretch five” Andre Drummond, a glorious season of the first Blake Griffin followed by a depressed Blake Griffin, lottery failure after lottery failure … I mean, you get it, but you also know I could go on.

Amidst these struggles, one thing has remained constant: The Pistons are unable to win a nationally televised game. Therefore, given that tonight’s game is the only nationally broadcast game of the season, I decided to do some light research on the team’s recent poor performance on national television.

Since the 2016-17 season, the Pistons have been televised on ESPN or Tuner Studios (TNT) for a total of 15 games. In these clashes, the results are; 1 win and 14 losses, with an average margin of loss of 19 points … yes, it’s ugly.

The only win came in 2018 against Lebron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, right after Blake Griffin’s infamous trade. Of the 14 losses, three were less than 10 points, 8 were between 11 and 30 points and there were three games where the margin exceeded 30 points.

Therefore, with the arrival of Cade Cunningham, tonight is a great opportunity to turn the ship around and provide our hungry fans with a basketball team we can be proud of.

Now, let’s focus on the current game. The Pistons and Rockets enter tonight’s game in search of a win that lifts their spirits.

The Rockets enter the night on an eight-game losing streak and battle chemistry issues with their leading scorer Christian Wood. After a close loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, Wood was asked about his clash with Nikola Jokic and had this to say; “[It] was not difficult … I think it would have been better if I was more involved in the attack. The next game against the Golden State Warriors, Wood was clearly showing open looks in protest of his “lack of involvement” in the offense:

Not all is dark for this Rockets team, however, they have an electrifying (albeit hugely ineffective) duo of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green. While the numbers aren’t in their favor, Porter Jr. and Green are both capable of playing strong moments in isolation situations. The jury is still out on whether Porter Jr. can become more efficient in his ground game to become an NBA-level playmaker, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make silly plays every now and then:

Another young player to watch for the Rockets is Alperen Sengun or, as he was known around DBB, A Turkish. Coming off the Rockets bench, Sengun showed his cunning as an inside scorer, while also showing his potential as a perimeter threat, shooting 41.7% on three-point tries. Sengun also showed a knack for disrupting passing lanes, racking up 1.7 steals per game. In fact, he played four games in which he knocked out opponents three times.

As for the Pistons, all eyes will be on Cade Cunningham’s performance. In the last game against the Brooklyn Nets, Cunningham managed to get his outside jumper moving a bit. Hopefully the top pick in the overall standings can use tonight’s game to kick off the rest of their attacking game and continue their solid game.

With Cunningham’s implementation into the roster, the Pistons were able to field a potentially versatile defense unit with Cunningham, Hayes, Bey, Grant and Stewart. The 5-man roster ranks among the best in the NBA, according to NBA.com the current five Pistons have a defensive rating of 99.2, placing in the top 15 in the league. Overall, Detroit has the 23rd defensive rating at 108.4. Coach Dwane Casey has expressed interest in the defensive potential of this formation, albeit on a small sample size:

With the tough start to the season, it would seem clear to most that the Pistons are heading to the lottery for another high pick. Therefore, a defeat against another inhabitant of the bottom can be considered a victory. But, it’s important that this young group is able to win every now and then to help maintain a level of confidence in themselves and in the locker room.

I’m saying all of this to say that Cade Cunningham and the Pistons should be laughing at the Jalen Green Rockets tonight.

Projected alignments

Houston Rockets (1-9)

Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green, Jae’Sean Tate, Christian Wood, Daniel Theis

Detroit Pistons (1-8)

Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the day

Does Christian Wood’s recent behavior validate Troy Weaver’s decision to let him walk in free will?

About Darnell Yu

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