Pistons still feel like visitors in home arena

Rod Beard

Auburn Hills — When the Pistons open their preseason schedule on Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena, they’ll feel a little bit like the visiting team — in their own arena.

They will not have played a game there nor held a full practice at their new home in downtown Detroit before they face the Charlotte Hornets. The Pistons will have a “Meet the Team” event on Tuesday, but that will be more of a fan exhibition, with shooting contests and other exercises, than actual practice.

Even the Hornets will have a little more exposure to Little Caesars Arena, having the normal visiting team shootaround on the morning of a game.

“We’ll have about the same advantage as Charlotte has on Wednesday,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ll get used to it. We have three (preseason) games there. What are you going to do? That’s what’s available.

“When we opened the new one in Orlando and Miami, it was the same thing. It’s still basketball — the court will be the same size. It’s a little bit of an adjustment but it’s not like the road team has an advantage.”

The Pistons played their last game at The Palace in April and with the opening of the new arena and sharing with the Red Wings, they haven’t taken an opportunity to see things at Little Caesars Arena.

The Pistons continue to practice in Auburn Hills at their practice facility until their new practice facility in the New Center area is completed — estimated to be in the summer of 2019.

Just as teams travel around to other arenas in the NBA, there’s not much different, with the dimensions and rims being pretty consistent.

“It’ll be a little weird but it’ll be like pick-up in the summer and we’ll put plays in with the team,” point guard Reggie Jackson said. “We’ll go in and it’s all basketball at the end of the day. I’m just happy it’s not for the regular season, so we’ll get a chance to get on the court.

“At home, you want home-court advantage and to get a few shots on the home court, but by the time we get around to the regular season, it’ll be home court.”

Forward Anthony Tolliver has experience with new arenas, having opened the Golden One Center last season when he played with the Sacramento Kings.

“It’s definitely a challenge, getting used to the new place. We’ll get down there for preseason games and it will feel like an away game in the beginning,” Tolliver said. “We’ll get a chance to get some reps in there, shots in there and a practice or two in there.

“The first few weeks, it was still a little different and weird. The fans are on your side but you’re getting used to the new digs and where to go, where the food is, your family and things you have to get used to.”