In a first for the Bulls in this weird COVID-riddled season, they are playing a game that was ‘moved up’ to take the place of a postponed one. The Bulls were originally supposed to play the Charlotte Hornets, and Pistons were supposed to play the Dallas Mavericks. As both the Hornets and Mavs are on the shelf this week, the league figured hey, why not?
And a matchup between this two teams is indeed fairly inconsequential. The Bulls are somehow still in the East ‘playoff hunt’, but the Pistons 3.5 games behind them and worst in the conference.
The Bulls haven’t faced Detroit in over a calendar year. Both of these franchises had front office overhauls heading into this season, though only one of them has been interesting and active.
Troy Weaver on his aggressive approach to building the Pistons: "When I was growing up, I didn't stick my toe in the pool. I jumped in. I sit at the front of the roller coaster with my hands up. I'm not going to come in and be gun shy. My clip will be empty."— Omari Sankofa II (@omarisankofa) January 14, 2021
(maybe the most shocking thing about this quote is...it’s an actual quote! Karnisovas has been in hiding since training camp)
The roster overhaul in Detroit turned over nearly the entire roster this past fall, and continued into this season: they dealt Derrick Rose to the Knicks for a 2nd rounder and a look at lottery bust Dennis Smith Jr.. They also recently came to a mutual understanding with Blake Griffin to put the former All-NBA forward on ice while trying to work out a trade or (more likely) buyout.
(shout-out to when John Paxson tried something similar, but in John Paxson fashion did it clumsily to the point where they were rebuffed by the league)
Detroit now features a pretty veteran starting lineup still, as all but rookie Saddiq Bey are 26 or older. And they’ve actually won three of their last four games. But it’s clear which direction they are going.
For the Bulls, it’s also pretty clear that they are looking to play fun competitive basketball, a goal which was helped significantly by the return to Wendell Carter Jr. last game in a surprise win over the Pacers. It would’ve been better for the team to simply have tonight off, but facing the Pistons is the next best thing.
No updates for the Bulls, Carter is back but the other frontcourt absences have no timelines to return.
For the Pistons, top-10 pick Killian Hayes has been out a while after hip surgery. Jhalil Okafor recently had knee surgery. Sekou Doumbouya is out with a concussion.