Detroit Pistons 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Breakdown and W-L Predictions

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2012

Detroit Pistons 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Breakdown and W-L Predictions

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    Finally, there is some legitimate reason for optimism in Detroit.

    The Tigers are locked in a playoff race, the Lions are fresh off of their best season in over a decade and the Red Wings are just a free agent away from yet another great year.

    The odd team out remains the Pistons.

    But things could finally be changing for the 'Stons.

    They have a bright young core that includes third-year big man Greg Monroe, promising second-year point guard Brandon Knight and slashing off-guard Rodney Stuckey.

    Add to that a very deep small forward position and three very intriguing rookies, and you have the makings of a team to watch.

    That being said, they are going to have to learn on the fly, as their schedule starts out tough and gets even tougher.

    Here is a breakdown of the entire Detroit Pistons schedule.

October/November Schedule

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    Wednesday, October 31 vs. Houston Rockets

    Friday, November 2 at Phoenix Suns

    Sunday, November 4 at Los Angeles Lakers

    Tuesday, November 6 at Denver Nuggets

    Wednesday, November 7 at Sacramento Kings

    Friday, November 9 at Oklahoma City Thunder

    Saturday, November 10 at Houston Rockets

    Monday, November 12 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Wednesday, November 14 at Philadelphia 76ers

    Friday, November 16 vs. Orlando Magic

    Sunday, November 18 vs. Boston Celtics

    Wednesday, November 21 at Orlando Magic

    Friday, November 23 vs. Toronto Raptors

    Sunday, November 25 at New York Knicks

    Monday, November 26 vs. Portland Trail Blazers

    Wednesday, November 28 vs. Phoenix Suns

    Friday, November 30 at Memphis Grizzlies

October/November Key Games

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    Sunday, November 4 at Los Angeles Lakers

    This game will be the first chance that this young Pistons team will have against an elite team. The Pistons are fortunate to have depth in the backcourt, and Brandon Knight should give Steve Nash fits.

    But the most intriguing aspect of this game will be up front. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe will have their first shot at taking on an elite frontcourt in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

    While the Lakers likely will win, the Pistons are just young enough to maybe keep this one close.

    Saturday, November 10 at Houston Rockets

    The matchup with Houston isn't the reason for the added importance to this game. It will be the last game of a Western Conference road trip that will truly be a great challenge for the Pistons. It is very possible that Detroit could lose all of the previous five games, and they will need this one.

    Monday, November 12 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    This game is sure to rock the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons, fresh off of a six-game west coast swing, will be energized to be back home playing against the Western Conference champs. The young Pistons will likely be looking to get rid of the taste of loss that they are sure to have in their mouths.

    Sunday, November 18 vs. Boston Celtics

    With a schedule that is heavily skewed towards the Western Conference, the Pistons should welcome a chance to play some teams in their own conference. This game at home against the Celtics should be a measuring stick for the young Pistons in assessing where they fit in the Eastern Conference.

    Friday, November 30 at Memphis Grizzlies

    In the last game of the month, the Pistons find themselves back on the road against an elite Western Conference squad. The reason this game is interesting is the frontcourt tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, two of the strongest, most talented big men in the league.

    October/November W-L Prediction: 8-9

    Wins: Houston (twice), Phoenix, Sacramento, Orlando (twice), Toronto, Portland

    Losses: Phoenix, Lakers, Nuggets, Thunder (twice), Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Memphis

Preview and Predictions for October/November

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of October/November

    The Detroit Pistons are hoping that Brandon Knight is going to take a huge leap in his second season at the point.

    In this young season, Rajon Rondo will be perhaps the first true test of Knight's abilities.

    True, Knight will have played both Steve Nash and Russell Westbrook before this game, but Rondo's tough defense will be a great test for the Pistons' young guard.

    Knight needs to attack Rondo at both ends in order to wear him down, but the key for him will be penetration. Too often last year he relied on his perimeter shooting, which certainly is good. But he will better serve the team cause by getting to the rim.

    Defensively, he needs to stay in front of Rondo at all costs. If he can play him to a draw, it will count as a win for Detroit.

    Pistons' Best-Case Scenario for October/November

    Truly, this first month's schedule is a grind. In all honesty, if the Pistons survive this month without losing their will to play, it will be an accomplishment.

    Thanks to a brutal six-game west coast road trip, the Pistons will barely have time to catch their breath before they play some tough games throughout the rest of the month.

    If they win more than eight games, it will be reason for celebration.

    Pistons' Worst-Case Scenario for October/November

    Given the west coast swing, this season could get ugly fast.

    The Pistons play some of the elite teams like the Lakers, Thunder (twice), Celtics and Grizzlies.

    There really are only a few games that should be relatively easy, and even those aren't gimmes.

    There is a chance that the Pistons could be down in a serious hole when December rolls around. We are talking potentially six or seven games under .500.

December Schedule

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    Wednesday, December 1 at Dallas Mavericks

    Monday, December 3 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

    Wednesday, December 5 vs. Golden State Warriors

    Friday, December 7 vs. Chicago Bulls

    Saturday, December 8 at Cleveland Cavaliers

    Monday, December 10 at Philadelphia 76ers

    Tuesday, December 11 vs. Denver Nuggets

    Friday, December 14 at Brooklyn Nets

    Saturday, December 15 vs. Indiana Pacers

    Monday, December 17 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    Wednesday, December 19 at Toronto Raptors

    Friday, December 21 vs. Washington Wizards

    Saturday, December 22 at Washington Wizards

    Wednesday, December 26 at Atlanta Hawks

    Friday, December 28 vs. Miami Heat

    Sunday, December 30 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

December Key Games

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    Monday, December 3 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers and Saturday, December 8 at Cleveland Cavaliers

    The future of the Pistons as a franchise is tied strongly to the development of Brandon Knight as a point guard. In a five-day stretch, Knight will go head-to-head with perhaps the best young point guard in the league, Kyrie Irving. How well he does in these games will be a good indicator of how far Knight has come.

    Friday, December 7 vs. Chicago Bulls

    Just like the Cavs and Irving will be a good measuring stick for Knight, so too will be the Bulls and their frontcourt in assessing Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. The Pistons will need to bang down low and try to slow down the Bulls' rebounding machines.

    Saturday, December 15 vs. Indiana Pacers

    Last year, David West and Roy Hibbert gave the Pistons and Greg Monroe fits. With Derrick Rose out for Chicago, the Pacers become the class of the Central Division. It will be important for the young Pistons to not back down from this challenge. 

    Friday, December 28 vs. Miami Heat

    Not so much a key game, as it is an interesting one. The Heat are the undisputed champs and boast the best player on the planet. If the Pistons can make this a game, it could be a real confidence booster.

    Sunday, December 30 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

    So in what world is a game against Milwaukee a key one? For some of the same reasons that the above games were highlighted. In the month of December, the Pistons will host each of the other four teams in their division. By the end of the month, we should know where they fit amongst their division rivals.

    December W-L Prediction:9-7

    Wins: Cleveland (twice), Golden State, Brooklyn, Toronto, Washington (twice), Atlanta, Milwaukee

    Losses: Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Indiana, Clippers, Miami

Preview and Predictions for December

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    Best One-on-One Matchup for Pistons in December

    For years, Pistons fans have been clinging to the "Rodney Stuckey is the next D-Wade" mantra.

    And for years, Stuckey has disappointed.

    But things are changing with the Pistons' mercurial shooting guard.

    He finally is putting things together and showed glimpses of immense talent and maturity last year.

    In years past, Stuckey was forced to check LeBron James due to the Pistons' lack of swingman depth. But with the addition of Corey Maggette, Stuckey should get the opportunity to play exclusively against Wade. This could be interesting.

    Pistons' Best-Case Scenario for December

    The Pistons will limp out of November within striking distance of .500 and will capitalize on a relatively easy schedule in December.

    Ideally, Detroit wins all of their home matchups against division foes and beats up the Wizards twice and the Cavaliers on the road.

    Hopefully, the Pistons will have a winning record in this month.

    Pistons' Worst-Case Scenario for December

    After getting whipped in November, they implode in December and lose even winnable games.

    The whole season hinges on how well the Pistons play this month. They will not have a good time in November, so their record in December will dictate whether or not this is a good year.

    In a glass-half-empty scenario, the Pistons have a losing record and are battling the Bucks for the basement of the Central.

January Schedule

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    Tuesday, January 1 vs. Sacramento Kings

    Friday, January 4 vs. Atlanta Hawks

    Sunday, January 6 vs. Charlotte Bobcats

    Friday, January 11 at Milwaukee Bucks

    Saturday, January 12 vs. Utah Jazz

    Thursday, January 17 vs. New York Knicks

    Sunday, January 20 vs. Boston Celtics

    Tuesday, January 22 vs. Orlando Magic

    Wednesday, January 23 at Chicago Bulls

    Friday, January 25 at Miami Heat

    Sunday, January 27 at Orlando Magic

    Tuesday, January 29 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

    Wednesday, January 30 at Indiana Pacers

January Key Games

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    Saturday, January 12 vs. Utah

    I am always fascinated about matchups involving big, strong post players. Utah boasts a few of those. Al Jefferson can be a load, and Enes Kanter looked pretty good in the summer league. This will be a good test for Drummond and Monroe.

    Thursday, January 17 vs. New York

    The Knicks will probably be the worst defensive team in the league this year, but they will still have some dynamic offensive weapons. I want to see how Drummond matches up with Amar'e Stoudemire and how Knight plays against Jason Kidd.

    Sunday, January 20 vs. Boston

    Another game against Kevin Garnett and Rondo, and another opportunity to measure progress. Knight needs to be pestering Rondo, and Monroe needs to be pulling Garnett out to the perimeter.

    Tuesday, January 22 vs. Orlando and Sunday January 27 at Orlando

    Okay, so presumably the Dwight Howard saga will have played out by now. No matter what, there will be a dominant post player for Monroe and Drummond to contend with. If Howard is still here, it will be fun to see Drummond try to check him. If Brook Lopez or Andrew Bynum are here, then maybe Monroe can hoard some minutes.

    January W-L Prediction: 7-6

    Wins: Sacramento, Atlanta, Charlotte, Milwaukee (twice), Orlando (twice)

    Losses: Utah, New York, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Indiana

Preview and Predictions for January

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    Most Intriguing One-on-One Matchup in January

    For better or worse, the careers of Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker are inextricably linked.

    Many people thought that Detroit would draft Walker before Knight fell to them, and even after Knight was selected some questioned out loud if Walker might be the better pick.

    Walker and Knight had nearly identical numbers last year despite the fact that Walker shared point guard duties with the now-departed D.J. Augustin.

    Walker is quicker and a better passer, but Knight is more athletic and a better shooter.

    Let the best man win!

    Pistons' Best-Case Scenario for January

    Ideally, the Pistons start building some momentum from December in this month.

    They will have some easier games, lots of rest and very few surprises.

    They will have some matchups that favor them, and with some good luck they might pull out a couple of the tougher games and finish the month three games over .500.

    Pistons' Worst-Case Scenario for January

    The slide continues, and the Pistons start to lose games they should win.

    They blow a supposed gimme against Charlotte and trip up against Orlando.

    If things go terribly, this team could finish the month with a sub-.500 record in the month.

February Schedule

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    Friday, February 1 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

    Sunday, February 3 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Monday, February 4 at New York Knicks

    Wednesday, February 6 vs. Brooklyn Nets

    Friday, February 8 vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Saturday, February 9 at Milwaukee Bucks

    Monday, February 11 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    Wednesday, February 13 vs. Washington Wizards

    Tuesday, February 19 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    Wednesday, February 20 at Charlotte Bobcats

    Friday, February 22 at Indiana Pacers

    Saturday, February 23 vs. Indiana Pacers

    Monday, February 25 vs. Atlanta Hawks

    Wednesday, February 27 at Washington Wizards

February Key Games

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    Sunday, February 3 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    The Lakers are basketball royalty. They seemingly are in contention every year. That being said, the last two times they played the Pistons in the NBA Finals, they lost by a combined eight games to one. Detroit is not at the Lakers' level right now, but it will be angling to use its athleticism to give the Lake Show some troubles.

    Monday, February 4 at New York

    By this point, Drummond will be a regular in the Pistons lineup and also the most likely guy to body up Tyson Chandler. Should the Pistons be playing well by now, this might be a game they can steal.

    Friday, February 8 vs. San Antonio

    The Spurs have been arguably the best-run franchise in basketball over the last two decades, and the Pistons have had their trouble with this team. Tim Duncan is on his last legs, but it's amazing how much life those last legs still have. Monroe should shine in this game.

    Monday, February 11 vs. New Orleans

    Just like Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight will always be linked, so too will Anthony Davis and Drummond. Davis could either become the next Alonzo Mourning or the next Marcus Camby. Drummond is more of a question mark and could be either the next Dwight Howard or the next Darko Milicic. It will be interesting to see how these two have developed.

    Wednesday, February 13 vs. Washington

    The Pistons already have played Washington a couple of times before this game, but it will be interesting to see how well Knight plays against John Wall here. Also, Nene versus Drummond could be intriguing, and so too will be the development of Bradley Beal. Hopefully Stuckey can frustrate the talented guard.

    February W-L Prediction:8-6

    Wins: Cleveland, New York, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Washington (twice), Atlanta, Charlotte

    Losses: Lakers, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Memphis, Indiana (twice)

Preview and Predictions for February

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    Best One-on-One Matchup in February

    Tim Duncan is going to go down in history as the best power forward of all time.

    That much is certainly undeniable.

    What has yet to be discovered is how good Greg Monroe will be.

    The matchup between these two is fascinating. Both are fundamentally sound with good instincts on offense and strong rebounding chops.

    But Duncan is the superb defender, and even in his late 30s is a handful on defense.

    Pistons' Best-Case Scenario for February

    Hopefully this squad is still injury-free and riding a surprisingly solid first couple months.

    They dispatch of the weak and battle the strong, upsetting the Knicks at home.

    Pistons' Worst-Case Scenario for February

    Injuries are starting to mount up, decimating the frontcourt in particular. The once vaunted small forward depth is reduced to Khris Middleton and Kyle Singler, and their lack of size contribute to lopsided losses against the Knicks and Nets.

March Schedule

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    Friday, March 1 at New Orleans Hornets

    Sunday, March 3 at San Antonio Spurs

    Wednesday, March 6 vs. New York Knicks

    Friday, March 8 vs. Dallas Mavericks

    Sunday, March 10 at Los Angeles Clippers

    Monday, March 11 at Utah Jazz

    Wednesday, March 13 at Golden State Warriors

    Saturday, March 16 at Portland Trail Blazers

    Monday, March 18 vs. Brooklyn Nets

    Friday, March 22 at Miami Heat

    Saturday, March 23 at Charlotte Bobcats

    Tuesday, March 26 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Friday, March 29 vs. Toronto Raptors

    Sunday, March 31 at Chicago Bulls

March Key Games

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    Sunday, March 3 at San Antonio

    This game marks the third game in a row that the Pistons will play on the road. It also will be right about the time that they will need to be kicking it into high gear if they want to make the playoffs. The Spurs probably will be in cruise control at this point, so the Pistons will need to capitalize.

    Wednesday, March 6 vs. New York

    I think the Knicks are overrated. They have a somewhat dysfunctional offense, and they only have one good defensive player. The Pistons will be entering a very rough stretch of games in which this might be the most winnable game.

    Friday, March 8 vs. Dallas

    The very next game is their last home game before a tough four-game Western Conference swing. Dallas got better in the offseason, but they still will have some issues. The Pistons flat-out need this game, especially if their previous run of games proved to be losses.

    Sunday, March 10 at Clippers

    The first game of their west coast trip is also the toughest. Chris Paul will be a handful, but the Pistons should be most worried about Blake Griffin. Who exactly guards the talented power forward?

    Saturday, March 16 at Portland

    The last game of their west coast trip should be their easiest. They badly need this game. There is a real shot that the Pistons could have lost five of their last six games and will need this game if they hope for any shot at the playoffs.

    March W-L Prediction: 6-8

    Wins: New Orleans, Golden State, Portland, Charlotte, Minnesota, Toronto

    Losses: San Antonio, New York, Dallas, Clippers, Utah, Brooklyn, Miami, Chicago

Preview and Predictions for March

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    Best One-on-One Matchup in March

    This one may be a stretch and obscure for some, but there is an individual rivalry between two very young players in this game that stretches back deep into the last decade.

    Kyle Singler and Kevin Love have been battling each other for years back in Oregon. Love and his Lake Oswego team won the Oregon state title in 2006 over Singler's South Medford high, but Singler and his squad spanked Love the next year.

    This will be the first time the two will have squared off since that game in 2007. They may not guard each other exclusively, but these two could be fun to watch.

    Pistons' Best-Case Scenario for March

    Truly, their best chance is to win the bulk of their home games. The road trips are going to be brutal, as even the easier games will be against teams that typically have good luck at home against Detroit. Hopefully Detroit can catch a few of the playoff teams slipping, as they likely will begin resting their studs.

    Pistons' Worst-Case Scenario for March

    If the Pistons are unable to pull out at least one win between their two games at home against the Mavs and Knicks early in the month, they could be riding a six-game losing streak when they reach Portland on March 16.

    If for some reason they fall in Portland, they could lose two more against Brooklyn and Miami, giving them a nine-game losing streak heading into a road game in Charlotte.

April Schedule

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    Monday, April 1 at Toronto Raptors

    Wednesday, April 3 at Boston Celtics

    Saturday, April 6 at Minnesota Timberwolves

    Sunday, April 7 vs. Chicago Bulls

    Wednesday, April 10 at Cleveland Cavaliers

    Friday, April 12 vs. Charlotte Bobcats

    Monday, April 15 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

    Wednesday, April 17 at Brooklyn Nets

April Key Games

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    Monday, April 1 at Toronto

    This game will be second of four straight road games for the Pistons. It also is the most winnable. The Pistons will need to limit the Raptors' second-chance points and keep their athletic big men from running them out of the gym. The Pistons need this game.

    Wednesday, April 3 at Boston

    With the season dwindling down, the Celtics will begin resting their starters. This is the perfect opportunity for Detroit to pull off a sneaky win. It won't be easy, as Rondo rarely gives any ground, and rookie forward Jared Sullinger might be rounding into form and looking to take advantage of some minutes.

    Wednesday, April 10 at Cleveland

    The Pistons' playoff hopes likely rest on the next three games. This will be the 11th road game of the Pistons' last 15 games, so they should be pretty tired. But if they hope to have any chance of squeaking into the playoffs, they will need to edge out this upstart Cavs squad.

    Friday, April 12 vs. Charlotte

    As mentioned above, the Pistons will have a very road-heavy schedule in March and April, so the sight of the Palace should be a welcomed one. The schedule makers decided to put a cherry on top of this sundae by scheduling the Bobcats to welcome them home. The Pistons will need to keep focused even though the Bobcats will probably still be very awful.

    Monday, April 15 vs. Philadelphia

    The last home game of the season is a tough yet winnable game. The Sixers are a perimeter-oriented team that is susceptible to interior post play. The Pistons need to pound them down low and hope they still have some playoff life left.

    April W-L Prediction: 4-4

    Wins: Toronto, Minnesota, Cleveland, Charlotte

    Losses: Boston, Chicago, Brooklyn, Philadelphia

Preview and Predictions for April

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    Best One-on-One Matchup in April

    Sure, this will probably not be an important game for Boston, but the Pistons will be fighting for their prospective playoff lives. The Celtics will probably be resting Kevin Garnett, so enter Jared Sullinger.

    Sullinger will be looking to make his mark in KG's absence and could be a load to deal with. The Pistons will largely counter with Jason Maxiell. This will truly be a barrel-chested wrestling match down low, as both players are extremely strong and not overly athletic. It should get extremely physical down low.

    Pistons' Best-Case Scenario for April

    The Pistons will be road-weary during the last two months of the season. Twelve of their last 17 games will be on the road, and most of their home games will be against good clubs.

    They not only need to win all their home games, but they will need to squeak out at least half of their road games if they want a chance at the playoffs.

    Pistons' Worst-Case Scenario for April

    The Pistons, reeling from their brutal schedule, start giving away easy games. The frontcourt depth is depleted due to injuries and ineffectiveness, and they end up having to play Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye extensively. This truly is my nightmare!

Full Season Record

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    I have the Pistons going 42-40.

    The Pistons have a very tough schedule. It truly will be a sink-or-swim trial by fire from the outset. A tough west coast swing is followed by tough games against the elite at home, and though the schedule thins out slightly in the middle months, the last two will be brutal.

    Ending the season playing 12 of your last 17 games on the road is bad—but mix in some tough home games in that scenario and you have the makings of some long losing streaks.

    The good news is that the Pistons are improving, and they are trending in the right direction.

    Look for Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe to take big steps forward, and Rodney Stuckey should continue his ascent.

    The true wild card of this season will be the rookies and how quickly they develop. The Pistons have a horrible track record of developing young guys, but Lawrence Frank is a legitimate basketball teacher and should help foster their development.

    Andre Drummond really is the key. If he can become a strong contributor to this team, the Pistons could stumble into the playoffs. But if his progression is slow, the Pistons could once again be watching the lottery balls next summer.