The Pistons released their entire 2012-13 slate of games earlier this week, and several intriguing matchups dot the schedule.
October 31 vs. Houston: Not only is this Opening Night for Detroit, it’s their chance at some revenge against the Rockets’ newly acquired point guard Jeremy Lin. The last time the team saw the sensational young guard, they were getting their tails handed to them in a 101-79 loss against the New York Knicks, Lin’s former team. The players might not say it aloud, but viewers shouldn’t be surprised if Pistons guards Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey take it to Lin.
November 12 vs. Oklahoma City: This game will be key for two main reasons. Facing one of the best young teams in the Association, it will be key for the Pistons to gauge their progress as a team against the Thunder, who should be considered title contenders once again next season. It will also be their first home game in almost two weeks, as they’ll immediately head out west after the home opener to face some of the West’s best squads.
December 3 vs. Cleveland: With two closely contested games and two blowouts between these two teams, it would appear that the Pistons-Cavaliers rivalry has been renewed a little. Both teams are led by young guards – Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight – and seem to be trending upwards after several down years. With both guards leading their respective teams, this could become an interesting matchup for years to come.
December 14 vs. Brooklyn: This is the first time that the Pistons will be seeing Deron Williams’ new place, The Barclays Center, along with the newest Net, Joe Johnson. The former Atlanta Hawk always seemed to give the team fits on the defensive end, so it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Lawrence Frank gameplans against him. They will also have to contend with the team’s resigned core of Williams, Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, and Kris Humphries. This squad may be an offensive juggernaut, but will their defense be up to par?
December 28 vs. Miami: The defending champions make their only visit to the Palace just a few days before the new year, and this one should be a real test for the Pistons. The Heat upgraded even more this offseason, signing sharpshooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis after drafting Justin Hamilton, an athletic big man out of LSU. Allen and Lewis spreading the floor on offense will test the perimeter defense of the Pistons, who ranked dead last in terms of opponent’s field goal percentage and in the middle of the pack for 3-point shooting percentage.
January 1 vs. Sacramento: This may be the second time that the Pistons will see Demarcus Cousins and the Kings, but it’ll be the first time at home. That should give Pistons’ fans a chance to see the two best big men of the 2010 draft go head-to-head once again. If that draft was redone today, Greg Monroe and Cousins would very likely go 2-3 behind #1 pick John Wall, and possibly before him depending on the team. These two will forever be linked because of that draft, so every matchup between them is intriguing.
January 6 vs. Charlotte: Charlotte may not be on most people’s “Must Watch” list, but now that former Piston Ben Gordon is a Bobcat, it makes this encounter a little more interesting. How will Pistons fans, who probably had mixed emotions about signing Gordon back in 2009 anyway, react when his name is announced at gametime? GM Rich Cho and owner Michael Jordan also upgraded their roster through the draft and free agency, making them much less likely to be the worst team in the league. They’re still young and will probably be in the lottery again next year, but they should prove competitive.
January 17 vs. New York: As of right now, this game is “TBD,” but from several sources, it would appear that this contest will take place overseas – London, to be exact. The Pistons and Knicks will battle it out in one of England’s largest sporting venues, The O2 Arena, where the Nets and Raptors played twice last season. Both games between those two were tightly contested but not sold out, but with the worldwide appeal of New York, this game should be close to capacity. Against one of the lower seeded teams in the Eastern Conference, this contest could also prove critical should the Pistons be in playoff contention.
February 27 vs. Washington: Normally a regular season game against the Wizards wouldn’t be on a Pistons fan’s mind, but with this game being one of the three televised games for Detroit in 2012-13, it should be a good game to watch. Washington’s front office also realized that several main players were holding the team back, including JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, and Rashard Lewis. Well, problem solved – they replaced all three and may finally have a competent squad. The Lewis trade netted them veteran forwards Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor and they drafted scoring guard Bradley Beal out of Florida. They may not compete for a title, but they should prove to be a competitive team once again.
March 1 vs. New Orleans: No one upgraded their team more this offseason than the Hornets, who got both a new owner and the #1 pick in just a few weeks. New Orleans obviously went with Anthony Davis with that pick, but that was just one of the many major moves the made this offseason. This matchup comes toward the end of the year, and the Pistons’ own lottery pick – UConn big man Andre Drummond – could very well be playing major minutes. This game could be a showcase between two of the 2012 draft’s most hyped players.
With 82 games in a season, it’s hard to narrow it down to just 10; did we miss any key games in this entry?