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Pistons face two opponents as they hit the road to conclude preseason

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

The preseason gave the Pistons two home games to open the schedule, so there was some comfort in playing at Little Caesars Arena in their first games since March. There was some advantage to that, in just getting acclimated to playing again, after the long layoff because of the pandemic.

Even the Orlando Bubble that the league used to finish the truncated regular season and the playoffs provided some security in that everyone was heavily guarded and tested to ensure the safety of the bubble.

Svi Mykhailiuk

Getting back on the road for the final two exhibition games, against Wasington on Thursday and Saturday, won’t be as easy for the Pistons. There are any number of NBA protocols in place to ensure the safety of teams’ traveling parties, including specific restaurants from which they can order food.

“That's going to be new. I think that's one thing that the league is really conscientious about, the protocols throughout testing,” coach Dwane Casey said Wednesday. “We have to be safe and make sure we wash our hands, keep our masks on and stay socially distant at our hotel.

“There are people around who you don't know if they've been tested or whatever they're doing. I know the hotel is doing temperature checks and all that going in, but it is a concern and I think that's something we really have to be conscientious about.

“The virus is real and it's not going to go anywhere just because you're the Detroit Pistons, so we have to be really careful.”

More: Pistons mailbag: What to make of early outings from new faces, returning players

Gone are the days of roaming around cities to find favorite hangouts or restaurants. Players and staff will be closely monitored to ensure that they remain physically distant and minimizing contact with anyone not in their mini-bubble.

It’s a continuation of the enhanced protocols for teams in their home markets as well, where they’ve limited interactions outside of their homes. It’ll be weird on the road for almost everyone.

“Usually on the road, I just stay in my room watching film or go out and eat, so for me, it's not going to be really different as it was last year,” forward Svi Mykhailiuk said. “You can't really go to public places, so it's probably going to be more time in the room.”

It’s going to be part of the new normal for many teams as they hit the road and deal with some cities that still have high infection rates because of the virus. It’s as much a mental battle as it is a physical one for each road trip, though the league has extended some of them by having teams play multiple games in the same city in some cases.

That move reduces the number of road trips but can make the trips longer with more downtime for players in the hotel.

“There's two opponents each night: one is COVID and the other is the opponent you play in basketball,” Casey said. “We have to all make sacrifices and be safe because it takes one person to cause a game cancellation, practice cancellation or close a facility down. So, don't be that guy.”

Pistons at Wizards

Tipoff: 7 p.m. Thursday, Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Pistons (1-1) hit the road for the first time this preseason for a two-game trip against the Wizards (0-1). Wizards coach Scott Brooks said how much Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal play is unclear.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard