New-look Pistons get 4 of first 5 at home, 15 of last 24 on the road
Unlike a season ago, when they hit the road for a brutal six-game trek through the Western Conference less than 24 hours after a crushing opening-night home loss to Houston, the Pistons will get a chance to gather some momentum at The Palace in the 2013-14 season’s first week.
The Pistons host Washington on Oct. 30 to open the season, play at Memphis two nights later and then return for three more home games before embarking on their annual November trip west while the circus takes over The Palace.
Those first five games will give first-year coach Maurice Cheeks the opportunity to fit seven newcomers into the mix among a more friendly environment, but three of those games come against legitimate NBA title contenders Memphis, Indiana and Oklahoma City. The Pacers and Thunder comes to The Palace on Nov. 5 and Nov. 8. The Pistons would do well to build momentum fast, too, because they’ll be on the road plenty down the home stretch of the regular season.
December will be the Pistons’ busiest month with 17 games in 31 days, eight of them home games, and they’ll play 10 games packed into 15 days from Dec. 7-21. February sees the Pistons play nine of their 13 games at The Palace. More than half of the home schedule – 23 of 41 games – will be played on weekend dates, including 10 on Friday, seven on Saturday and six on Sunday. The Pistons will play nearly 25 percent of their games on Wednesday, with 15 of those 20 games coming on the road.
The Pistons face 20 sets of back-to-back games and have three stretches of four games in five nights. One of those four-in-five incidences comes in early January sandwiched by unusual lulls on either side. After hosting Washington on Dec. 30, the Pistons will have five days off before hosting Memphis on Jan. 5. That starts a stretch where they play five games in seven days, followed by another stretch of five days without a game. After hosting Phoenix on Jan. 11, the Pistons will be off until hosting Utah on Jan. 17.
Another quirk of the schedule calls for the Pistons to take single-game trips to two Western Conference opponents stuffed between home games. The Pistons take a Dec. 11 visit to New Orleans sandwiched between Dec. 10 and Dec. 13 home games against Minnesota and Brooklyn, followed by a Jan. 26 game at Dallas between Jan. 24 and Jan. 28 home games against New Orleans and Orlando.
The defending champion Miami Heat, led by reigning league MVP LeBron James, will make two appearances at The Palace, the first on Dec. 8 and the return trip on March 28. Houston and marquee addition Dwight Howard visit The Palace for a pre-Christmas matchup on Dec. 21.
Thanksgiving week will be busy and intriguing with four home games, starting with the return of Brandon Knight to The Palace when Milwaukee visits on Nov. 25, followed by Chicago – and the returning Derrick Rose – on Nov. 27, Thanksgiving eve. The Los Angeles Lakers come to town on Nov. 29 and Philadelphia wraps up the week with a Dec. 1 visit.
The Pistons play eight of nine games at home during a February stretch that encompasses the All-Star break, including visits from a bulked-up Brooklyn Nets roster that now includes Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko on Feb. 7 and NBA runner-up San Antonio on Nov. 10.
When that stretch ends with a Feb. 24 visit from Golden State, the Pistons will face a road-heavy schedule over the rest of the season: 15 of their final 24 games come away from The Palace, including five of the final seven.
The Pistons have no road trip longer than four games – Western Conference swings in November and March – nor lasting more than seven days. The season ends with an April 16 visit to Oklahoma City.
The Pistons again have no games on Thursdays, essentially the night reserved for nationally televised doubleheaders.
One other challenging aspect of the schedule involves the only disparity possible among Eastern Conference teams. Each team plays 36 games against the 10 teams from the two other divisions within their conference, which is distributed unevenly: four games apiece against six teams and three apiece against the remaining four.
The four teams the Pistons draw three times apiece include three projected to be lottery teams in Charlotte, Orlando and Toronto. The New York Knicks are the other team the Pistons will play three times instead of four. Orlando and Toronto are the two conference teams that will visit The Palace only once apiece; all other Eastern Conference teams come to The Palace twice.
Josh Smith’s first return visit to Atlanta, his only NBA team over Smith’s nine-year career, will come on Nov. 20. That game also will be a homecoming for Pistons No. 1 draft pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a Georgia native who played college basketball at the University of Georgia. The Pistons will host Atlanta two nights later at The Palace. Brandon Jennings, acquired from Milwaukee last week, will make his first trip back to play the Bucks on Dec. 4.
Here’s the breakdown of the 2013-14 Pistons schedule:
By day: Monday 12 (7 home; 5 away); Tuesday 9 (6 home, 3 away); Wednesday 20 (5 home, 15 away); Thursday 0; Friday 18 (10 home, 8 away); Saturday 13 (7 home, 6 away); Sunday 10 (6 home, 4 away).
By month: October 1 (1 home); November 15 (8 home, 7 away); December 17 (8 home, 9 away); January 13 (6 home, 7 away); February 13 (9 home, 4 away); March 16 (7 home, 9 away); April 7 (2 home, 5 away).
Back-to-back sets: 20 total; home-away (8); away-home (4); away-away (5); home-home (3).