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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Detroit Pistons

Can the Silver and Black ring in the new year with a much-needed victory over a pitiful opponent?

Detroit Pistons v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs came out of the locker room flat in the second half of their matchup with Memphis and never quite rediscovered their form as they fell to their divisional rival. Although the absence of Dejounte Murray likely played a considerable role in the outcome, the good guys allowed a winnable game against the shorthanded Grizzlies to slip from their hands.

Next up for the Silver and Black on their extended road trip is round two with the downtrodden Detroit Pistons, who enter this contest on a three-game losing streak. Their last-place opponent has given a new definition to the infamous “Bad Boys” moniker, and this is a perfect chance for head coach Gregg Popovich and crew to put an end to their two-game skid.

San Antonio Spurs (14-20) @ Detroit Pistons (5-28)

January 1, 2022 | 6:00 PM CT

Watch: CW35 | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Ankle), Dejounte Murray (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Devontae Cacok (Out — COVID-19 Protocols)

Pistons Injuries: Jerami Grant (Out — Thumb), Killian Hayes (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Isaiah Stewart (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Saben Lee (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Josh Jackson (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Cory Joseph (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Frank Jackson (Out — Ankle), Kelly Olynyk (Out — Knee), Cade Cunningham (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Chris Smith (Out — Knee), Trey Lyles (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Rodney McGruder (Out — COVID-19 Protocols)

What To Watch For

  • Few franchises have been hit as hard by COVID-19 protocols and injuries as the Pistons, and their roster has turned into a revolving door of ten-day contracts as they attempt to avoid postponing any games. Detroit was already shorthanded when the Spurs blew them out by 35 points a week ago, and their hardship exception stand-ins haven’t improved their rapidly deteriorating situation. A seemingly unending series of misfortunate events have continued to pile on as they approach the midway mark of their regular-season schedule, including the losses of Jerami Grant, Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, and Isaiah Stewart. Saddiq Bey is now the lone member of their typical starting lineup. Although the second-year forward has put forth a valiant effort in the absence of his high-usage teammates, his 26.0 points per game as the de facto go-to scoring option hasn’t done much to keep the pitiful Pistons afloat over their last three outings. Head coach Dwayne Casey and company are currently on pace to win a less than respectable 12 games, which would tie the 2010 New Jersey Nets and 1987 Los Angeles Clippers for the fifth-worst record in NBA history. This matchup should be a cakewalk for San Antonio regardless if Dejounte Murray makes his return to the hardwood, and anything less than a comfortable win would probably be a massive disappointment.
  • The Silver and Black have been put in an intriguing predicament since Dejounte Murray landed in COVID-19 protocols on Wednesday. Losing your starting floor general is never ideal, though it has provided head coach Gregg Popovich with an opportunity to get a little experimental with his rotations. Tre Jones has earned a vastly increased role as the first point guard off the pine, Josh Primo has received another legitimate taste of NBA action, and Derrick White has seen an uptick in ballhandling responsibilities. Not only has the 27-year-old averaged roughly 9.0 assists per game in limited minutes over his last three appearances, but he has built some tangible chemistry with Jakob Poeltl, Jock Landale, and Keita Bates-Diop. White has shown off his playmaking chops in the wake of his backcourt companion, San Antonio’s depth chart looks promising, and the thought of all these pieces possibly coming together should give Spurs fans something to look forward to as we enter 2022.

For the Pistons fans’ perspective, please visit Detroit Bad Boys.

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.