Division rivals dot early-season Pistons schedule for 2019-20

Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin and the Pistons open the season at Indiana on Oct. 23 and return home to open the Little Caesars Arena half of the schedule Oct. 24 against Atlanta
Ron Hoskins (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

The Pistons need to get their work done early against division opponents in 2019-20 – because they’ll barely see them in the second half of the season.

The Pistons open the season on Oct. 23 at Indiana – the home opener comes the next night against Atlanta, a week later than last season’s Oct. 17 opener – and they’ll see the Pacers three times in the first 10 games and be finished with their season series on Dec. 6 in the season’s 23rd game.

They’ll also cram all four games with Chicago into the season’s first half, playing the Bulls for the final time Jan. 11 in the season’s 40th game, and see Cleveland for the final time Jan. 27 in the season’s 48th game. The only division rival the Pistons will play after the All-Star break will be Milwaukee, getting the Bucks twice in the final 25 games.

The Pistons both start and end the season with a back to back – they have 13 in total this season, one off of the NBA high but only two more than the fewest any team plays. The Pistons will be at a rest disadvantage 12 times in back to backs compared to having nine occasions where they’ll have an opponent on a back to back while they’re rested – the second straight season the Pistons will be a minus-3 in that department.

They’ll have nine occasions of playing three games in four nights, including both to start and end the season. For the second straight season – and the third time since 2015 – the Pistons will end their regular season at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. This time, though, their season will end on a Tuesday, one night before the April 15 end to the NBA’s regular season. Five of the final six games will come on the road. The home finale, April 13 vs. Boston and free-agent star Kemba Walker, comes on the heels of a four-game road trip to Minnesota, Atlanta, Miami and Dallas.

As previously announced, the Pistons will play a “home” game in Mexico City against Dallas on Dec. 12. That game will be wedged between road games at New Orleans and Houston.

The Pistons take one of their longest trips ever spanning late December and early January when they’ll be gone for 11 nights covering six games: San Antonio, Utah, the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers and, oddly, Cleveland to cap it off. It’s the second straight season the Pistons have a game – this time at Golden State, last season at Sacramento – between dates at Staples Center against its two Los Angeles tenants.

The Pistons will be busy early, playing 12 games in the season’s first 20 days. The first time they get more than a day between games comes Nov. 13-14, three weeks into the season – and then, after a game at Charlotte on Nov. 15, the Pistons have an odd four-day period without a game. Then they go nearly a month – until Dec. 10-11 – before their next multiday break between games.

The NBA champion Toronto Raptors – minus departed free agent Kawhi Leonard – make their first visit to Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 18. The Pistons – who went 3-0 against Toronto last season – will try to keep Dwane Casey perfect against his former team when they cross the border for an Oct. 30 date with the Raptors in the season’s fifth game. Philadelphia, expected to challenge Milwaukee atop the Eastern Conference, will be an early visitor to Little Caesars, coming on Oct. 26 in the season’s third game. The 76ers added Al Horford and Josh Richardson this summer to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris while losing J.J. Redick (to New Orleans) and Jimmy Butler (to Miami).

Thirteen of the 25 Pistons games after the All-Star break will come against Western Conference opponents, including both Los Angeles teams. LeBron James and newcomer Anthony Davis accompany the Lakers on March 22 and five days later Leonard and Paul George lead the Clippers into Little Caesars Arena. Kyrie Irving – who joined injured Kevin Durant in jumping to the Brooklyn Nets – makes his first of two trips to Little Caesars on Nov. 2.

No. 1 pick Zion Williamson makes his first appearance in Detroit with New Orleans on Jan. 13, while No. 2 pick Ja Morant – along with ex-Michigan State star Jaren Jackson Jr. – is due in town with Memphis on Jan. 24. Klay Thompson, coming off of a torn ACL in the NBA Finals, expects to be back in the lineup by the time Golden State comes to Detroit on March 20.

For the second straight season, the Pistons will play a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee at Washington.

Weekends will be busy at Little Caesars for the Pistons as nearly half of their home games will fall on Friday (eight games), Saturday (seven) or Sunday (four). The Pistons will also have nine Monday, one Tuesday, seven Wednesday and five Thursday home games.

January will be the busiest month for the Pistons as they’ll play 16 games over its 31 days, split evenly between home and road. The Pistons will play eight of their 13 March games at home.

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