Thursday’s season opener showed us signs of things to come for this Chicago Bulls team. On one hand, Bobby Portis and Zach LaVine had outstanding offensive performances, resulting in a 41 point first quarter. But on the contrary, their defense looked like how we thought they would on their way to a 127-108 loss.
Without Kris Dunn, the Bulls were shorthanded on defense and it showed. And unfortunately Dunn is out again tonight (with Cameron Payne remaining the starter), but at least the opponent is a bit less scary in the Detroit Pistons.
With new head coach Dwane Casey, who inherits a decent roster, the Pistons should be battling for a playoff spot this season. They got off to a good start this season with a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. Behind their frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond (26 and 24 points respectively), the Pistons were able to hold off a gritty Nets team for a 103-100 win. This game was a decent indication of how Detroit is going to play for much of the season. Rely on the two bigs they have in Griffin and Drummond while looking for contributions from point guard Reggie Jackson, who had 19 points against the Nets, as a third option. After this game Detroit goes back home for three straight games in Little Caesars Arena against the Sixers, Cavs, and Celtics.
Like against Philadelphia, Wendell Carter Jr is going to have a lot to handle on the defensive end. This time it will be Andre Drummond opposite the rookie. It’s more of a different matchup than how it was against Joel Embiid. There won’t exactly be a threat of Drummond stepping out and knocking down a long range jumper but he will be an absolute wrecking ball in the paint. Drummond is an exceptional rebounder, the joint league leader in rebounds per game at 10.9. Carter Jr. is going to have to make sure he knows where Drummond is at all times and box out whenever a shot goes up. Otherwise it could be a feast of second chance points for the Pistons big man. Portis will also have to deal with Griffin, who can still put up numbers in a hurry if given the chance.
In terms of injuries, beyond Kris Dunn’s absence and Lauri Markkanen being out for a couple more weeks still, we learned today that Denzel Valentine is out an additional two weeks with his ankle issues. Also with an ankle injury is Cristiano Felicio , whose status is questionable heading into this game.
As for Detroit, they should have a healthy roster. Starting wings Stanley Johnson (toe) and Reggie Bullock (flu) missed their opener but are expected to play.
Time: 7pm CT
TV: NBC Sports Chicago