Pistons look to get season off to good start against Nets
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Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin are learning how to stay out of each gway.
The better they get at that, the more dangerous the Detroit Pistons will become this season.
Detroit opens at home against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday with high hopes of making the playoffs. The Pistons possess two of the top big men in the Eastern Conference and they're continuing to build chemistry.
Griffin was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in a blockbuster trade in late January but now that duo has enjoyed the benefit of a full training camp together.
In the team's final preseason game against Cleveland, Griffin exploded for 29 points along with three rebounds and five assists, while Drummond bulled his way to 21 points and 15 rebounds.
"It's like having two pit bulls in one house," Drummond said. "You've got to figure each other out. Last game showed how deadly we could be together when we figure things out. It's only going to get better from here."
If Griffin and point guard Reggie Jackson can stay reasonably healthy, the Pistons should be one of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference and reach the postseason. Griffin hasn't played in more than 67 regular-season games over the past four seasons. Jackson has missed big chunks of time the past two seasons due to knee and ankle ailments.
Dwane Casey will be making his regular-season coaching debut with the Pistons. He was hired by Pistons owner Tom Gores after previous head coach Stan Van Gundy was fired after a four-season run. Casey was named Coach of the Year with Toronto last season but lost his job after a playoff flop against Cleveland.
"The time is now," Drummond said. "We have everything we need to be great. There's no reason why we can't be a top team in the East or a top team in the NBA."
Brooklyn remains in a rebuilding mode but expects to be more competitive after going 28-54 last season.
"I don't see any reason why we can't make a push for the playoffs," GM Sean Marks said this offseason. "Isn't that the objective here? We're not sitting here trying to win 20 games, so let's put our best foot forward and push each other and see where it goes."
The Nets used free agency to fortify their bench. They added prolific rebounder Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier, both of whom played for Portland last season.
Brooklyn will rely on its backcourt to provide a majority of its scoring. D'Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie each averaged at least 12 points per game last season.
The Nets will start the season without small forward DeMarre Carroll, who underwent ankle surgery on Tuesday.
"I don't think it's a huge thing," coach Kenny Atkinson told the New York Post. "It was something where we could go back and forth or get this thing cleaned up and get him feeling 100 percent. So it is what it is. I think we have a deeper roster this year. I think we can cover during his absence. Not great news for DeMarre or us, but we've got to push forward."
Crabbe (ankle) is also expected to miss the game and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (adductor) is questionable.
Updated October 17, 2018