Detroit Pistons schedule 2013: Key battles allude to playoff readiness

Jonathan Daniel

The Detroit Pistons spent the money to make a playoff run, but the 2013-14 schedule will include several key games they must win if the postseason is in the cards.

Detroit wasn't willing to wait for young stars to develop. It wasn't going to sit out this offseason to miss another postseason. This summer, the Pistons signed Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith to pair with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, two young frontcourt players with bright futures.

The playoffs are now an expectation, and Detroit's 2013-14 schedule will determine not only if the Pistons can get to the postseason but whether or not they can win there.

Five games to watch

Nov. 20 at Atlanta -- Smith spent nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and the return to his former team and hometown will likely be bittersweet for the versatile forward. Smith left a franchise on the reboot and joined a Pistons squad vying for the playoff spot that Atlanta often held. The Hawks replaced Smith with Paul Millsap and still have a good deal of talent, so the outcome of such as matchup could make a difference in the playoff race.

Dec. 4 at Milwaukee -- Jennings will return to the only other NBA city he's known. The point guard could never break some bad habits as a member of the Bucks, and his ability to lead a winning team has been questioned. He can change that perception against Milwaukee and former Detroit guard Brandon Knight, who was acquired in the sign-and-trade that sent Jennings to the Pistons.

Jan. 20 vs. Clippers -- While Clippers big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are considered ahead of the Pistons' young frontcourt, they are likewise growing on the defensive end. Jordan is especially working to develop a consistent appetite for protecting the paint. Drummond and Monroe could learn a bit from the Los Angeles duo -- or they could attack their elders to make a statement.

Feb. 5 at Orlando -- One of Detroit's two ESPN-televised games of the year features a matchup of two squads taking different routes toward success. The Pistons are widely regarded as the team closer to the playoffs because they spent money to dig out of their struggles. Meanwhile, the Magic are taking their time and developing young players. It's the type of game Detroit must win regularly if it's a serious playoff squad.

March 3 vs. Knicks -- If the Pistons really want to make a case as contenders in the Eastern Conference, winning a battle against the New York Knicks would surely receive some attention. In terms of entertainment value, few collisions between two teams could be more awkward. The matchups in the frontcourt -- Carmelo Anthony and Smith, Tyson Chandler facing Drummond, then Andrea Bargnani against Greg Monroe -- will be the best part.

Tough tests

From Nov. 24 through Dec. 8, the Pistons play nine games. Two are against Miami and two more are against Chicago. The Pistons also play two crucial games against a Milwaukee team that could compete with Detroit for a final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Nets, Lakers and Sixers fill out the stretch.

Easiest stretches

In the last week of December, Detroit faces Cleveland, Orlando and Washington twice before hitting a quick tough patch against the Grizzlies and Knicks. After that, there are more winnable games against Toronto, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Utah and the Wizards once again.

Important schedule facts

Back-to-backs: 20

Season opener: Oct. 30 at home vs. Wizards

Longest road trip: Four games (Nov. 11-17, March 19-24)

Longest homestand: Five games (Feb. 7-18)

2013-14 schedule

OCTOBER
Washington Wednesday, October 30 2013 7:30 PM EDT coverage
NOVEMBER
Memphis Friday, November 01 2013 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Boston Sunday, November 03 2013 6:00 PM EST coverage
Indiana Tuesday, November 05 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Oklahoma City Friday, November 08 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Portland Monday, November 11 2013 10:00 PM EST coverage
Golden State Tuesday, November 12 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Friday, November 15 2013 10:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, November 17 2013 9:30 PM EST coverage
New York Tuesday, November 19 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Wednesday, November 20 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Friday, November 22 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Sunday, November 24 2013 2:00 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Monday, November 25 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Chicago Wednesday, November 27 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Friday, November 29 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
DECEMBER
Philadelphia Sunday, December 01 2013 3:30 PM EST coverage
Miami Tuesday, December 03 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Wednesday, December 04 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Chicago Saturday, December 07 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Miami Sunday, December 08 2013 6:00 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
New Orleans Wednesday, December 11 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Friday, December 13 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Portland Sunday, December 15 2013 6:00 PM EST coverage
Indiana Monday, December 16 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Boston Wednesday, December 18 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Friday, December 20 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Houston Saturday, December 21 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Monday, December 23 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Orlando Friday, December 27 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Washington Saturday, December 28 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Washington Monday, December 30 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
JANUARY
Memphis Sunday, January 05 2014 1:00 PM EST coverage
New York Tuesday, January 07 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Toronto Wednesday, January 08 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Philadelphia Friday, January 10 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Phoenix Saturday, January 11 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Utah Friday, January 17 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Washington Saturday, January 18 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Monday, January 20 2014 1:00 PM EST coverage
Milwaukee Wednesday, January 22 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
New Orleans Friday, January 24 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Dallas Sunday, January 26 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Orlando Tuesday, January 28 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Wednesday, January 29 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
FEBRUARY
Philadelphia Saturday, February 01 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Miami Monday, February 03 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Orlando Wednesday, February 05 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Friday, February 07 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Denver Saturday, February 08 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
San Antonio Monday, February 10 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Wednesday, February 12 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Tuesday, February 18 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Wednesday, February 19 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Friday, February 21 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Dallas Saturday, February 22 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Golden State Monday, February 24 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
San Antonio Wednesday, February 26 2014 8:30 PM EST coverage
MARCH
Houston Saturday, March 01 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
New York Monday, March 03 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Chicago Wednesday, March 05 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Friday, March 07 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Boston Sunday, March 09 2014 6:00 PM EDT coverage
Sacramento Tuesday, March 11 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Toronto Wednesday, March 12 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Indiana Saturday, March 15 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Denver Wednesday, March 19 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
Phoenix Friday, March 21 2014 10:00 PM EDT coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Saturday, March 22 2014 10:30 PM EDT coverage
Utah Monday, March 24 2014 9:00 PM EDT coverage
Cleveland Wednesday, March 26 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Miami Friday, March 28 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Philadelphia Saturday, March 29 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Milwaukee Monday, March 31 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
APRIL
Indiana Wednesday, April 02 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Brooklyn Friday, April 04 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Boston Saturday, April 05 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Cleveland Wednesday, April 09 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Chicago Friday, April 11 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
Toronto Sunday, April 13 2014 3:30 PM EDT coverage
Oklahoma City Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage

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