The Detroit Pistons have played to expectations, which really isn’t saying much.
Detroit was projected to finish with one of the worst win percentages in the league this season, and its 0-2 start has done nothing to change the losing narrative around the team.
Not only have the Pistons lost each of their games straight up, they’ve failed to cover the spread in both, making them just one of six teams to not cover a spread yet this season.
Detroit was a double-digit underdog for Monday’s 7:35 p.m. ET tip at Atlanta, as of Tuesday afternoon’s sportsbook lines. The Pistons opened as 8-point underdogs at the major sportsbooks, then the line rose to -10 in favor of the Hawks (2-0). The over/under was 223 after opening at 226.5. Detroit’s moneyline odds were +390 with Atlanta at -530.
In each of Detroit’s two losses, the Pistons held late, comfortable margins before squandering the game.
Against Minnesota, Detroit led 85-80 entering the fourth quarter before being outscored 31-16 down the stretch, losing 111-101.
The Pistons experienced more heartbreak versus Cleveland on Saturday, holding a nine-point lead in the first overtime session before giving up a 9-0 run to the Cavaliers. Detroit lost in the second overtime, 128-119.
For a team that spoke in the offseason and preseason about developing a defensive identity, blowing late-game leads doesn’t help. The stats don’t align with the Pistons having success on defense, either.
Detroit allows the eighth-most points per game (119.5) in the NBA. The team’s defensive field goal percentage (46%) and 3-point percentage (33.8%) are just average, ranking 14th in both categories.
It also doesn’t help that the Pistons sport one of the least efficient offenses so far. Per 100 possessions, they’re averaging only 95.4 points — only Golden State at 95.0 is worse.
Two veteran leaders, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, will both miss Monday’s game. Griffin is listed as being out for left knee injury management and Rose is out to rest. Their status might be attributed to where the Pistons are in their schedule. Monday’s game against the Hawks is the second of three games in four nights. Detroit hosts the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday for the second night of a back-to-back.
Griffin and Rose’s absences could give Detroit’s rookies more minutes. First-round pick Saddiq Bey has only played six minutes so far, while Isaiah Stewart — another first-rounder — has yet to play in either of the Pistons’ games.
Down the stretch of both games, Detroit head coach Dwane Casey has gone with Rose over the No. 7 overall pick, Killian Hayes. Perhaps with Rose out and more opportunities to make plays, Hayes can find an offensive rhythm. Hayes has struggled so far, averaging just 5 points per game while shooting 31% overall, including just 20% from 3-point range.
Hayes and the Pistons will be tasked with stopping one of the hottest guards in the league, Atlanta’s Trae Young.
Through two games, Young is averaging 36.5 points and is converting 46% of his 3-point attempts. Young leads a Hawks group that has scored two convincing wins, 124-104 over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and 122-112 over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.
Atlanta’s 114.2 points per 100 possessions have it ranked as the fourth-most efficient offense in the league.