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Everything to know ahead of Bulls-Pistons in NBA Paris Game

Everything you need to know for the NBA Paris Game on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET on NBA TV.

NBA Paris Game

The Pistons take a photo in front of the world-famous Eiffel Tower.

The Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls touched down in Paris, France on Monday in preparation for Thursday’s NBA Paris showdown in the City of Lights. Bulls-Pistons will be the 119th international NBA game played since 1984 and the second Global Game this season. Paris is hosting its sixth NBA matchup — its first coming in a 1994 preseason game between the Warriors and Hornets, and its last being a matchup between the Bucks and Hornets in 2020, the first regular season game played in France.

Here’s everything you need to know about Bulls-Pistons on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET on NBA TV.

Standings Watch

The Bulls come into France at 20-24, 10th in the Eastern Conference. Chicago has been inconsistent all season, winning three or more consecutive games only twice. The Bulls’ front office has some decisions to make at the trade deadline, to figure out how they can maximize their team’s chances this year and for the future.

The Pistons make their travels across the Atlantic having played 47 games, the most in the NBA. They stand at 12-35, second to last in the Eastern Conference and firmly in the territory for Victor Wembanyama — more on him later. The Pistons are one of the youngest teams in the NBA and one of their net positives from this season has been the experience that young talent has garnered. They’ve lost five of six, so a win in Paris would be a much-needed victory for this squad.

Killian Hayes Homecoming

Killian Hayes

Killian Hayes signs Pistons jerseys in his return to France.

Pistons guard Killian Hayes is the talk of the town in Paris as he is the only player on either roster with a French background. Hayes grew up in Cholet, roughly a four-hour drive southwest of Paris, where he played professional basketball for Cholet Basket. Hayes is excited to be back in his home country.

“I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Hayes said. “There are 30 [NBA] teams, and we’re fortunate enough that they picked the Pistons to go [to France]. I’m very happy to go back home and enjoy an NBA game with my friends and family in attendance.”

The NBA’s Global Games have been a tremendous opportunity for the league to grow and reach wider audiences internationally. Basketball may not be center stage in France just yet, but the sport is climbing the ranks in popularity.

“In France, the main sport is soccer, but basketball is really growing,” Hayes said. “A lot of people love basketball out there, and [this game is a big opportunity for them] to enjoy NBA basketball live.”

Thursday’s NBA Paris game comes at a perfect time for Killian, as he is showing much improvement this season. He’ll look to put on a show for the home crowd at Accor Arena.

Bulls Tandem (And A Third Wheel)

Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan have been the engine of the 2022-23 Bulls team.

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have led the way for the Bulls in 2022-23. DeRozan and LaVine have been pure scoring guards throughout their careers, and this season is no different. They average 26.1 and 23.9 points per game, respectively, making them the 11th-best scoring duo in the NBA.

While DeRozan and LaVine are the two wheels of the bicycle that keep the Bulls in motion, Nikola Vucevic has been a steady third wheel for the team. Like any third wheel, Vuc is not the center of attention, but he’s always a needed and consistent scoring presence that balances the Bulls. While Vucevic usually doesn’t get all the recognition he deserves, he certainly stole the spotlight in Sunday’s win over the Warriors when he dropped a career-high 43 points. The Montenegrin center is having the most efficient shooting season of his career and is averaging 17.5 ppg.

Detroit’s Youth

Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham are the future of the Pistons.

The Pistons are the eighth youngest team in the NBA with an average age of 26.6 years old. Their young core is led by Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and Jalen Duren, who are all 21 or younger. Cunningham was averaging 19.9 ppg, 6.0 assists per game and 6.2 rebounds per game until his season ended with left shin surgery. Ivey is making his way into the Kia Rookie of the Year conversation (although Paolo Banchero has run away with the award) with an impressive 15.1 ppg., 4.3 apg. and 4.1 rpg.

Jalen Duren is the league’s youngest player at 19 years old, but he has already dazzled Pistons fans with electrifying dunks. Duren, however, might not be able to play in Paris because he lost his passport, a blunder that sheds light on how young this Pistons squad really is.

Wemby Watch

Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama is one of the most tantalizing NBA Draft prospects of all time.

Victor Wembanyama deserves his own section because at this point, his name may be heard more often than the names of players that are actually playing in this game. Wemby was born and raised in France, and he plays for the Paris-based Metropolitans 92 team of the LNB Pro A. His anticipated attendance at the NBA Paris game is drawing buzz from the media, fans and even the players, who are excited to simply gawk at the 7-foot-4 unicorn. Wemby will get a close-up glimpse into his future as he will undoubtedly be the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Wembanyama may even end up with the Pistons come June.

Heated Rivalry

The Bulls and Pistons have a deep-seated rivalry that goes all the way back to the 1980s. The bad blood boiled most in the late ’80s and early ’90s when Michael Jordan’s Bulls faced off against Isiah Thomas’ “Bad Boy” Pistons. The Eastern Conference Central division foes matched up in the playoffs for four straight years from 1988-1991. The Pistons won the first three, but Michael and the Bulls got their revenge in 1991, sweeping the Pistons and going on to win the Bulls their first NBA championship in franchise history. Of late, the rivalry has been streakier. The Bulls have beaten the Pistons in 12 straight contests dating back to Nov. 2019. Before that, the Pistons won seven straight games against the Bulls.

Global Games History

Thursday’s NBA Paris game is the Pistons’ fifth international NBA game. They are 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the regular season. Their first game was in 1995 in Mexico City when they beat the Washington Bullets, and their last was in 2019 when they lost to the Mavericks in Mexico City. The Bulls will play their fourth international NBA game. They are 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the regular season. They played their first game in 2009 in London, beating the Jazz 102-101. Their last game came in 2018 in Mexico City. Neither team has played an NBA Global Game in France.

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Tune in to the Bulls vs. Pistons in Paris on Thursday, Jan. 19 on NBA TV.