The compressed 66-game NBA schedule throws curveballs at all 30 teams and gives each one its own unique set of challenges. For the Pistons, it means 42 of those 66 games will be in back-to-back – or back-to-back-to-back – settings, and then there’s the monthlong stretch from March 12 to April 12 that includes three extended road trips and sees the Pistons away from The Palace for 13 of 17 games.
The Pistons open the season at Indiana on Dec. 26, a game that was on the NBA’s original 82-game schedule. The home opener, another holdover from the original schedule, will come Dec. 28 against Cleveland, The Palace debut under the stewardship of Tom Gores as owner and Lawrence Frank as coach.
Among the quirks to the schedule, the Pistons play division rival Indiana only once at The Palace. The Pistons will play seven home games against Central Division rivals but eight such road games. Among other Eastern Conference teams, the Pistons will host the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and Boston Celtics just once apiece, while they will travel to four Eastern opponents – Washington, Orlando, Miami and Toronto – just once.
The Eastern opponents the Pistons will play four times apiece – two home, two away – are Atlanta, Charlotte and Philadelphia in addition to division rivals Cleveland, Milwaukee and Chicago.
Under a normal 82-game schedule, the Pistons would play all 15 Western Conference teams home and away for a total of 30 games. In the 66-game format, the Pistons will play 18 games against Western teams. The only ones they will play both home and away are Memphis, Sacramento and Minnesota.
The Pistons will not host six Western Conference teams this season: Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix, Denver, Utah and Oklahoma City. In addition, they will not visit another six Western teams: New Orleans, San Antonio, Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State and Portland. Those six teams, in addition to the three that they play both home and away, all will visit The Palace.
The Pistons will play 15 of their final 25 on the road. That includes the stretch that begins March 12 with a five-game road trip that takes them to Utah, Sacramento, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver. After a brief stopover at The Palace to host the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat on March 23, the Pistons will get right back on the road for a four-game swing that starts March 24 to New York, Washington, Cleveland and Chicago, a stretch of nine road games in 10 games over 18 days.
The Pistons will play 14 games on Fridays, 13 on Wednesdays, nine apiece on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays, seven on Sundays and five on Thursdays. At The Palace, they play eight games on Fridays, six apiece on Tuesdays and Saturdays, five on Sundays, four on Wednesdays, three on Thursdays and one on Monday.
Among the marquee games scheduled at The Palace in addition to the March 23 game vs. Miami with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade that comes amid their road-heavy schedule, the Pistons also host the Heat on Jan. 25; the Lakers and Kobe Bryant come to The Palace on March 6; defending NBA champion Dallas with Dirk Nowitzki will be the opponent on Jan. 10; Boston and its big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen visit on Feb. 19; Orlando and Dwight Howard come on Jan. 2 and April 3; New York with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and former Piston Chauncey Billup visits on Jan. 7; and Chicago and reigning MVP Derrick Rose come to The Palace on Jan. 4 and April 15.
The two back-to-back-to-back sets for the Pistons come on Jan. 30-Feb. 1 when they play road games at Milwaukee, New York and New Jersey and April 17-19, when they host Washington, play at Atlanta, then return home to host Minnesota. As part of the first back-to-back-to-back set, the Pistons will play five games in six nights.