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Brooklyn Nets vs. Detroit Pistons preview: Pistons try to avoid history

The Pistons have lost 26 straight games. The Nets are hoping to put Detroit in the history books

Utah Jazz v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Got the first one. The Brooklyn Nets went into Saturday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons trying to snap their five-game losing streak. They were able to do that with a 126-115 win in front of the hometown faithful at the ‘clays. This is the second matchup between the two teams. They’ll see each other again in March 2024.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7 PM.

Injuries

No Ben Simmons or Lonnie Walker IV. Walker may be back vs. the Raptors on Wednesday.

Jalen Duren has been upgraded to probable as he’s been out with a left ankle sprain. Killian Hayes is probable with an illness. Isaiah Stewart is probable with a right great toe sprain. Monte Morris is out with a right quadriceps strain.

The game

When you go on a losing streak for the ages, the boss has to answer some questions. That’s what Pistons owner Tom Gores did when he chatted with the assembled media in Detroit a few days ago. Over at Detroit Bad Boys, Sean Corp made this observation:

It’s clear that the Pistons front office and owner Tom Gores thought this team was much better than it actually is. They were caught flat-footed that these young players wouldn’t instantly, simultaneously take leaps and be responsible for the team being at or near contention. Honestly, that might be the most clearest indicator of a fireable offense that I can think of. The idea that the Pistons could largely run back a 17-win team and see a 15-win improvement was always way off base. It’s a shame nobody in charge realizes just how much of a self-inflicted wound this all is.

Moments like this are cause for deep reflection and a reassessment of the choices you’ve made to get to this point.

In Saturday’s preview, we mentioned the Pistons’ penchant for hacking, and that showed itself in the game. Brooklyn tied their season high in free throw attempts with 32, and they’ll try to put the pressure on Detroit once again. Mikal Bridges getting to the rim will help accomplish that

Bridges had been struggling in recent games, and a night like that should get him back on track. The Nets need him to be that lead option on offense and finding those easy points. Bridges can operate in isolation, but he’s at his best when he’s on the move and making things happen downhill.

Even for a team that hasn’t won a game since October, it’s hard to beat the same team two straight times. No matter what the record is, they’re all professionals at the end of the day and all it takes is one small adjustment to flip the result from one game to the next.

“It’s right after Christmas. Sometimes those can be a little tricky,” said Cam Johnson. “Sometimes with the holidays and stuff you can let your guard down a little bit. But we’ve just got to remain locked in, we’ve got to keep our focus level high and approach each game very seriously. We’re coming off a losing streak, so we need to turn things around and start a winning streak.”

For the Pistons, it could be something as simple as Bojan Bogdanovic shooting like he normally does. Our old pal only went 2-of-7 from 3-point range on Saturday, and as Nets fans know well, one hot stretch from deep can change the entire complexion of a game.

Ultimately, the Nets will try to make things hard on Cade Cunningham. The lead guard has played a lot better in recent games and for the Nets, the job will be to force him to play in a crowd. A lot of his turnovers have come from poor spacing and the Pistons need to figure out how to get good shooters around him so his game can take its next step forward. You never want your young players to get used to awful circumstances, and it’s up to Troy Weaver and the Pistons to get him the support he needs.

Speaking of players from the 2021 Draft, Cam Thomas will look to make something shake tonight. Thomas got the Pistons to the tune of 20 points on 7-16 from the field and 5-5 from the free throw line. Thomas did most of his damage heading downhill and that’s something the Nets need a lot more of in the halfcourt. Thomas can get easy buckets, and the Nets need as much of that as they can get.

Player to watch: Isaiah Stewart

The Pistons center room has plenty of room for improvement. James Wiseman is still finding his way, Marvin Bagley gave some good minutes when he started and is back on the bench, and Jalen Duren was not getting minutes for reasons we don’t know. That leaves Stewart as the most reliable big working for Monty Williams. He’s got some range and knocked down four of his five three point attempts on Saturday night.

Nic Claxton will look to put another solid outing together. The big guy had his customary outing of 11/7/2/2/2 in 29 minutes.

From the Vault

Late last week, the nominees for the Naismith Hall of Fame were announced. One of this year’s nominees is our guy, Vince Carter!

More reading: Detroit Bad Boys, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Piston Powered