The Los Angeles Lakers will be looking for their fifth straight win and to move to 4-0 on this home stand when they take on the struggling Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons entered the 2019-20 NBA season hopeful for a playoff berth as their talented core of players mixed with a top-heavy Eastern Conference meant it should’ve been pretty easy to sneak into the seventh or eighth seed. However, things have started about as bad as they could have for the Pistons.
They’re 10 games under .500, Blake Griffin and Markieff Morris are out with injuries, and Andre Drummond has already been placed on the trade block as the team looks to move on from the rebounding machine. Despite all of this, they are just 3.0 games back of the No. 8 seed in the conference, which puts them at a serious dilemma.
In the next month, the Pistons will have to figure out if they want to keep it all together and fight for the playoffs or if they want to blow it up and enter a rebuild.
On the other hand, the Lakers have no doubts about where they want to be. Through 35 games, the Lakers look to be playing the part of a true championship contender. They have the best record in the Western Conference, the second-best record in the NBA, and did all that without having a full roster until Christmas Day.
For this game, Anthony Davis is probable with his nagging sore shoulder while Alex Caruso is questionable with lingering calf tightness.
Despite the Lakers having significant talent advantages, this game actually brings with it some tough matchups. This starts with Drummond, who’s averaging a team-leading 17.5 points, a league-leading 15.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.8 blocks per contest.
This means that JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard will have their work cut out for them — and possibly Davis if they run any small-ball lineups with him at the center position. Drummond isn’t an extremely great player, but his ability to grab rebounds and suffocate the paint defensively poses problems for opposing teams.
The Pistons also have a possible Lakers trade target coming off their bench in Derrick Rose. Rose has been playing great basketball off the bench as the Pistons sixth man and is likely to be inquired about by many teams if the Pistons start to shop players.
While this should be an easy win like the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans games were supposed to be, the Lakers have to avoid getting complacent and perhaps play well enough throughout the game that Davis and LeBron James can sit in the fourth quarter without having to come back in the game.
Los Angeles Lakers (28-7) vs. Detroit Pistons (13-23)
7:00 P.M. PT, Jan. 5, 2020
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN), 1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo
Projected Pistons Starting Lineup:
PG: Tim Frazier
SG: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
SF: Tony Snell
PF: Sekou Doumbouya
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: Derrick Rose, Bruce Brown, Langston Galloway, Christian Wood