Detroit heads on the road for their first road matchup of this early NBA season, as they travels to Memphis to a familiar face in Tayshaun Prince. Prince –who was traded near the trade deadline last season– spent his entire NBA career as a mighty Piston before being shipped to Memphis last January, helping Detroit to their third NBA title in franchise history almost 10 years ago.
But now, the scene is plenty different at the Palace, 5 years after their last playoff appearance, 6 years since they finished a season with a winning record, and finally, the Pistons are starting to build something after being in the dark for so many years. With high expectations for this season with the new additions of Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Chauncey Billups, the trio of rookies, and an entirely new coaching staff, this may not be a Piston team Tayshaun Prince or the Grizzlies are use to seeing.
Headline: Helpful Health
As Detroit get’s ready to face the Grizzlies in their home opener, Detroit will get some much needed depth in the backcourt, as guard Rodney Stuckey will play Friday night. Although Coach Cheeks did say that Stuckey will not be in the Pistons starting lineup. Chauncey Billups and Will Bynum will hold down the fort in the backcourt to start off Friday’s contest.
Cheeks did say that Rodney will be the first guard off the pine for Detroit, although he will not be hesitant to bring in the rookies Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Peyton Siva if Stuckey struggles early on.
Another Injury update regarding the Pistons back court is the health of their star point guard Brandon Jennings. Jennings, who was initially expected to miss the first four games of the season, may be back as soon as Sunday evening against the Boston Celtics as Detroit unveils their new “Motor City” alternates. During Friday’s shoot around, Jennings was seen being fitted with a “Rip-like” face mask by strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander.
Nice to finally see Detroit heal from these pesky injuries early in the season.
Key Matchup: Greg Monroe Vs. Zach Randolph
As tempted as I was to put Andre Drummond Vs. Marc Gasol as the key matchup of the game, I decided that the battle between the two skilled power forwards is the most intriguing game within the game. Monroe, coming off a career opening night performance that saw him score 24, haul down 16 boards, and shoot 12/15 from the charity stripe, will be going up against one of the most polished low post scorers in the NBA.
After troubled stints in Portland and New York, “Z-Bo” seems to have found a home with the Grizzlies for the foreseeable future. Now entering his fifth season as a member of the Grizzlies, Randolph will look to improve upon his game this season. In 2012-2013, Randolph averaged nearly 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds. This year, under new head coach David Joerger, Randolph had a poor outing to open the new season in San Antonio Wednesday night. Finishing with just 2 points in 26 minutes of play. Expect a much bigger outing from Z-Bo Friday night as he looks to prove that Wednesday nights performance was just a fluke.
Should be fun watching these two skilled big men go at it in the low post in Memphis.
– Television: Fox Sports Detroit
– Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket (Detroit)
HC: Maurice Cheeks
PG: Will Bynum
SG: Chauncey Billups
SF: Josh Smith
PF: Greg Monroe:
C: Andre Drummond
HC: David Joerger
PG: Michael Conley Jr.
SG: Tony Allen
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol
– Brandon Jennings: OUT (Jaw)
– Charlie Villanueva: DOUBTFUL (Sore Shoulder)
PREDICTION: 93-88 DETROIT
– With the Grizzlies still trying to adjust to new coach David Joerger’s style, as well as coming off a poor performance to the hands of the Spurs, I expect to see the Grizzlies a tad bit sluggish out of the gate, and hopefully Detroit can take full advantage of that. Coming off a big win against a potential Eastern Conference playoff team, spirits are high for Detroit, as they head to Memphis with a winning record (1-0) for the first time in almost 5 years. With some needed depth in the back court with the addition of Rodney Stuckey, I see the Pistons coming out on top for their first win against a Western Conference opponent.
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