Beard: Five takeaways from Pistons' 2019-20 schedule
The NBA released the regular-season schedules for all 30 teams on Thursday, with the Pistons starting on Oct. 23 on the road against the Pacers.
They have some tough stretches of games, both at home and on the road, as they look to improve on their 41-41 record from last season and try to get back to the playoffs.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Pistons’ schedule:
Out the gates
In their first 10 games, the Pistons play the Pacers three times, with two of those on the road. Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo (ruptured right quad tendon) isn’t expected to return until December or January. Only two of the first 20 games are against teams from the Western Conference — and neither of those won a playoff series. In fact, the Pistons’ strength of schedule is the easiest in the league before the All-Star break — and most difficult after the break.
In the first 20 games, the Pistons have only three games (76ers, Raptors and Bucks) against teams who won a playoff series last season. The schedule gets tougher in December with the start of the first western trip, but the first half of the schedule, through mid-December, has plenty of winnable games.
Rest for the weary
Blake Griffin played 75 games and had the best season of his career last year, but injuries popped up near the end and he was hobbled before returning for the playoffs.
The Pistons will be looking to give Griffin some more rest days and Derrick Rose, whom the Pistons signed in the offseason, almost certainly will be in the same category as the training staff looks to find ways to manage his minutes and ensure that he’s healthy for a potential playoff run.
The Pistons have 13 back-to-backs and those will be the premium opportunities to get either — or both of them — off their feet for a day or two. Maybe the sweet spot is getting about 65 games for Griffin and Rose, depending on how they do in the first part of the season.
Way out West
The Pistons have two western trips, including a grueling five-game set that’s part of a bigger six-game road trip. They start against the Spurs and play the Jazz two days later, then have New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day off before facing the Clippers on the Jan 2. That starts a stretch of three games in four nights, with the Warriors and Lakers on a back-to-back on Jan. 4-5. It’s one of the toughest spans of the schedule, with the improvements the Lakers (Anthony Davis) and Clippers (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George) have made.
The second western trip is in February and has another rough stretch, with the Trail Blazers (Feb. 23), Nuggets (Feb. 25th), Suns (Feb. 28) and Kings (March 1). That’s a long week of travel and the early Sunday game in Sacramento doesn’t help matters.
Nuts and bolts
The easy parts of the schedule look to be October and November and the hardest are in March and April. The games in between are what could determine whether the Pistons make the postseason. Most of their games against the teams projected to be the elite teams in the East — Bucks, 76ers and Celtics — seem to come in that span. The other games against the projected top teams in the West — Clippers, Lakers, Warriors, Jazz and Trail Blazers — are clustered together, which potentially could lead to some long streaks or skids.
Closing it out
Like last season, the Pistons end the regular season on the road against the Knicks. That final matchup helped the Pistons clinch a playoff spot, but the Knicks will be better this year. Including that, six of the final eight matchups are on the road: at the Nets, Timberwolves, Hawks, Heat and Mavericks.
While it’s unlikely the Pistons will have a postseason spot sewn up before the last stretch of games in April, they might have to fight their way into the playoffs with some above-average play down the stretch.
Pistons 2019-20 schedule
Wed. Oct. 23 at Indiana, 7:00 p.m.
Thu. Oct. 24 Atlanta, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 26 Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m.
Mon. Oct. 28 Indiana, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Oct. 30 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 1 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 2 Brooklyn, 7:00 p.m.
Mon. Nov. 4 at Washington, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 6 New York, 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 8 at Indiana, 7:00 p.m.
Mon. Nov. 11 Minnesota, 7:00 p.m.
Tue. Nov. 12 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 15 at Charlotte, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 20 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 22 Atlanta, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 23 at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m.
Mon. Nov. 25 Orlando, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 27 at Charlotte, 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 29 Charlotte, 7:00 p.m.
Sun. Dec. 1 San Antonio, 5:00 p.m.
Tue. Dec. 3 at Cleveland, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 4 Milwaukee, 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 6 Indiana, 7:00 p.m.
Mon. Dec. 9 at New Orleans, 8:00 p.m.
Thu. Dec. 12 Dallas (at Mexico City), 9:00 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 14 at Houston, 9:00 p.m.
Mon. Dec. 16 Washington, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 18 Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 20 at Boston, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 21 Chicago, 7:00 p.m.
Mon. Dec. 23 Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m.
Thu. Dec. 26 Washington, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 28 at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m.
Mon. Dec. 30 at Utah, 9:00 p.m.
Thu. Jan. 2 at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 4 at Golden State, 8:30 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 5 at L.A. Lakers, 10:00 p.m.
Tue. Jan. 7 at Cleveland, 7:00 p.m.
Thu. Jan. 9 Cleveland, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 11 Chicago, 7:00 p.m.
Mon. Jan. 13 New Orleans, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 15 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 18 at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Mon. Jan. 20 at Washington, 2:00 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 22 Sacramento, 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 24 Memphis, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 25 Brooklyn, 7:00 p.m.
Mon. Jan. 27 Cleveland, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 29 at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 31 Toronto, 7:00 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 2 Denver, 12:30 p.m.
Mon. Feb. 3 at Memphis, 8:00 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 5 Phoenix, 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 7 at Oklahoma City, 8:00 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 8 New York, 7:00 p.m.
Mon. Feb. 10 Charlotte, 7:00 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 12 at Orlando, 7:00 p.m.
Thu. Feb. 20 Milwaukee, 7:00 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 23 at Portland, 9:00 p.m.
Tue. Feb. 25 at Denver, 9:00 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 28 at Phoenix, 9:00 p.m.
Sun. March 1 at Sacramento, 6:00 p.m.
Wed. March 4 Oklahoma City, 7:00 p.m.
Sat. March 7 Utah, 7:00 p.m.
Sun. March 8 at New York, 7:30 p.m.
Wed. March 11 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. March 14 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Tue. March 17 Orlando, 7:00 p.m.
Fri. March 20 Golden State, 7:00 p.m.
Sun. March 22 L.A. Lakers, 6:00 p.m.
Mon. March 23 at Milwaukee, 8:00 p.m.
Wed. March 25 Portland, 7:00 p.m.
Fri. March 27 L.A. Clippers, 7:00 p.m.
Sun. March 29 Houston, 5:00 p.m.
Wed. April 1 at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.
Fri. April 3 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
Sun. April 5 at Minnesota, 7:00 p.m.
Tue. April 7 at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Thu. April 9 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. April 11 at Dallas, 3:00 p.m.
Mon. April 13 Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Tue. April 14 at New York, 7:30 p.m.