Opponent Scouting: Indiana Pacers. (7-8)

Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be on the road to play against the Pacers. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Bucks on Wednesday, while the Pacers are also on one day of rest after beating the Grizzlies.

 

The Them:

The Pacers are largely unchanged from the team the Pistons played recently. They still sport an effective offense with a 9th best efficiency in the NBA of 106.8 points per 100 possessions, while their defense is still very bad allowing 107.1 points per 100 possessions which is 25th in the NBA.

The offense is still lead by Victor Oladipo, who is still averaging 23.2 points per game and has rebounded with his efficiency recently, and while he still isn't much of a facilitator if he keeps up this scoring for much longer then it may be time to give him serious thought of being for real. Myles Turner has been a bit iffy since coming back from a concussion, he is scoring just under 14 points per game and isn't shooting particularly well but its still early, he remains in a learning period in a lot of defensive areas but he blocks a ton of shots. Thaddeus Young is still doing his thing, getting buckets while also playing scrappy defense and generally being long and strong, he's also still shooting pertty well from deep which is a good sign for the pacers. Bojan Bodganovic can shoot and score but doesn't do much of the defense thing, Darren Collison is a perfectly acceptable starting point guard with a killer mid-range jumper but is generally unremarkable. Cory Joseph is an awesome backup point guard who does a bit of everything, Domantas Sabonis is scoring and rebounding really well in limited minutes, Lance Stephenson still probably is just bad, T.J. Leaf is a decent young guy as a kind of stretch 4.

This team has a lot of options to score, Oladipo is averaging 23 and after that their next 5 guys (the rest of the starters + Sabonis) are averaging between 12 and 14 points per game. They can't really defend anything either though, but they continue to look like a team that actually is decent. Before the season I figured they would be total sad-sacks and they actually have been kind of fun and look like they actually may be a team who can finish around .500.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Drummond vs. Turner: His role hasn't been as big so far as a lot of people thought, but he is still important. Turner is big enough to not get bullied too much by Drummond but he still had enough learning to do to have trouble, while Drummond will have to deal with Turner's shooting. If Drummond starts to take over the paint or Turner starts to nail jumpers it could be a big factor in the game.

  • Avery Bradley vs. Victor Oladipo: After these teams played last I thought Oladipo had begun his return to mediocrity, and yet here he is still putting up 23 points per game. If Bradley can put the clamps on again then the Pacers offense loses a lot of its teeth as they don't have a whole lot of perimeter scoring otherwise.

  • Pistons vs. Turnovers: The Pistons turned the ball over a ton against the Bucks and that is really what cost them the game. Obviously the Bucks have a tendency to do that with all the length they have, but some of those turnovers were un-forced. The Pistons do not have enough offensive firepower to overcome sloppy play, and this Pacers team loves to run.

  • SVG vs. Rotations: SVG straight up played Luke Kennard as the backup small forward against the Bucks which shocked me, in a good way. If Kennard is put into that role again then there is a good chance he is going to be there for the foreseeable future.

  • Backup center? I'm not sure who the best option would be, but Sabonis is no joke. Whoever gets the minutes will have to play well.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Oladipo is throwing up all kinds of terrible shots and missing them again.

  • The Pistons look more like themselves on offense against a bad defensive team.

  • Drummond is abusing the Pacers in the paint.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • The Pistons backup centers can't contain Sabonis.

  • Turner begins raining death from above. (On both ends of the court)

  • The Pacers are getting out in transition a lot.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • The Pistons play disciplined and don't turn it over much.

  • Oladipo struggles in a big way again.

  • Drummond gets the better of Turner in the end.

  • The Pacers fight hard all the way but the Pistons win a competitive but not super close game.

  • Pistons 115 – Pacers 108.

 

What do you think? Can Bradley repeat his domination of Oladipo? Can the Pistons get back on track?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #14. Pistons 95 - Bucks 99. (10-4)

In the grand scheme of things this isn't all that bad. The Pistons are still off to a great start and they lost a very close game against a pretty good team and they were in it right to the very end. Despite that, this one still hurt.

 

Box score.

 

Reggie Jackson:

Didn't do a whole lot on either end of the floor. 6 points on 8 equivalents with 2 assists in just 22 minutes. SVG stuck with Ish Smith after the bench got the Pistons back into the game so he played limited minutes. Really not a whole lot to say about the game for him, he just didn't have much impact on either end, good or bad.

 

Avery Bradley:

The full Avery Bradley offensive experience was on display in this game. He finished with 28 points on 21 equivalents, 5 assists and 5 turnovers, and ooo boy those were not the harmless kind of turnovers. They were bad, dumb, awful turnovers that shouldn't be happening. The real killer for this game though is that the Bucks are not a good matchup for Bradley on the other end, as their absurd length means that he is a bit mitigated as a defender since there isn't a guy his size that he can just hound the entire night. Look, this was still a good game for Bradley and he continues to be an absolute blessing for this team on both ends of the floor, but it is tough to watch him with some of those turnovers.

Also in that same vein of “Remember that I love this guy and am thrilled he is on the team but...”, after tonight he is going to be pretty close to leading the team in FGA per game, and I would guess (I'm not going to do the math on my own, we will see when the numbers update) that he has overtaken Jackson for the team lead in usage percentage after this game. Once again, Bradley is a good player, but that isn't good. Get Tobias Harris the ball more, and let Reggie run the offense more. Bradley should be a clear 3rd place in the offensive pecking order, and in recent games he has been pretty close to 1st and that isn't where he should be. Still a good game for Bradley though.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Returning from injury and I'm guessing still not all the way healthy as he played just 18 minutes. I'm guessing he wasn't all the way healthy because he looked very good when he was out there so I don't think they played him sparingly due to poor play. He did a great job on Giannis and was his usual super active self, but didn't have a huge impact on offense due to the low minutes.

 

Tobias Harris:

The Bucks are a hard matchup for Tobias, they have long defenders and make you beat them with passing which is obviously a problem for Tobias, but he should've gotten more shots up and whether it was SVG or the point guards or whatever who was responsible, Harris cannot get just 12 shot equivalents in a game where the offense really struggles for long stretches. This seemed like the game where down the stretch you would want to lean heavily on your best two offensive players and they apparently had no interest (more on this later). For his part though Tobias was fine, he was efficient with 13 shots on those 12 equivalents and had a few nice passes and even had a couple decent defensive plays.

 

ANDRE-MOTHER-FUCKING-DRUMMOND:

5-8 at the line is definitely an automatic qualifier for the honors, you know the rules.

Beyond his night at the line, Drummond played a very solid game, he finished with 13 points on 13 equivalents with 17 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal. I also give him some real credit for shutting up and playing in the second half of the game, because he absolutely had beef with the refs down low. Remember last game against the Bucks Andre shot 16 free throws and also had a bunch of fouls that were on the floor, it makes sense because the Bucks have no one who can body him up so they have no choice but to foul him, and they didn't play him any different tonight. It is kind of crazy to say because the Bucks got called for a ton of fouls, but the Bucks should've ran out of big men sometime in the 3rd quarter I think. Regardless, he got a little bit of an early hook in the 1st quarter to get him calmed down after he was clearly frustrated by the lack of calls but after that there was no complaining really at all from him and he put up a monster 3rd quarter and made a couple really nice plays in the clutch, I just wish he had been on the floor more than 29 minutes.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

Playing 31 minutes, likely do to Stanley Johnson being on a minutes restriction, and he had a ver nice game. 9 points on 8 shots with 3 rebounds, a block, and a steal in 31 minutes doesn't really do it justice. He did a very respectable job defending Giannis and hit some big time shots in this game, dude continues to cruise as an awesome and important bench piece for the team and his shot appears to have started to come around.

 

Ish Smith:

Welp, it was bound to happen at some point. Smith, who has been playing awesome this year, especially scoring the ball, had a dud tonight. 4 points on 10 shots with 4 assists and 4 turnovers. He was on the floor when the Pistons made their initial comeback but it had very little to do with him and a great deal to do with Kennard, Tolliver, and Galloway YOLOing it up from deep. Smith was not very good tonight, and that is honestly ok even though it stinks to know that if he had been able to keep hot for one more night the Pistons probably win. It is ok because he still is having a career year and the Bucks are a really hard matchup for him given his small size.

 

Eric Moreland:

Played too long but that isn't his fault. His stat-line isn't overly impressive with 0 points on 3 shots, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks in 19 minutes, but this was his kind of game. This was an ugly, frantic, dangerous game. And Moreland plays with an ugly, frantic, and dangerous energy at all times he is on the court and he had a nice night.

One side note on Moreland, if you are a younger kid who is thinking of trying a new sport or maybe you are an older person who has a kid who will be trying a new sport, do like Eric Moreland. Go full speed at all times. If you make mistakes make sure they are at full speed, because that is always something that will be worth something to have someone one the court/field/whatever who is going 200% at all times.

 

Langston Galloway:

9 points on 11 equivalents with a couple of assists in 15 minutes isn't very good, but he had a rough first half. In the second half though, he scored 9 straight points totally by himself to open up the Piston comeback so that was fun. He honestly didn't do a whole lot other than that, he missed some floaters and a couple of threes after the 9 straight points, but those buckets were so big that he still had a good go of it.

 

Luke Kennard:

Color me surprised. I assumed that we only saw Kennard against the Heat due to Miami's tendency to go with small, three guard lineups so SVG was comfortable playing Kennard at the 3. The Bucks on the other hand, generally have point guards on the floor bigger than what Miami often puts at small forward, and yet here was Luke Kennard getting the backup small forward minutes and boy did he make the most of it. He had 11 points on 7 shots in 15 minutes, and for the first time on an NBA court he really made good on the threat of his deep ball, going 3 for 4 on some shots that he would've been fully within his rights to do the Sam Cassell big balls dance afterwards. He even made a few nice defensive plays on rotations! (if this is surprising to you then you should probably read the bit I did on his game against the Heat.) This was an excellent game from Kennard and a huge show of faith from SVG that he played him against a team like the Bucks.

On a side note, it is kind of too bad that Kennard didn't get drafted by another team. Like, could you imagine if he had been drafted by the Bulls? With his combination of offensive skill and brashness how many shots per game would he be getting up? 15? 20? It would be ugly a lot of the time, but I bet he would drop 30 several times.

 

General:

Ok, I respect Stan Van Gundy immensely as a coach and there is nothing that is going to convince me that he is anything other than an excellent basketball coach. HOWEVA, tonight was a bad night for him other than letting Kennard see the floor in a way that is clearly out of his comfort zone. Ish Smith played the entire 4th quarter, and Eric Moreland nearly did as well. Here is the thing, I get that the backups got the Pistons back in the game, but that was mostly against the Buck's backups and it isn't like Jackson or especially Drummond were having bad games. Jackson hadn't been all that good but he has regularly been quiet until the end of games this year and Drummond already had a double double when he left the game in the 3rd quarter! He also held Tobias Harris out until late in the 4th quarter as well. The Bucks were playing the sort of maniacal defensive game that shows just why there are people drooling over the potential for this unit of long armed athletes, and that is exactly the sort of game where you cut out all of the fancy crap and have your best players get you some freaking buckets, and instead Stan left his best players on the bench. I honestly think that if Stan had gone back to the starters at a reasonable moment the Pistons would've won this game and it was so predictable that Avery Bradley would end up with a terrible turnover to seal the game. Give me Reggie Jackson or Tobias Harris with the ball in crunch time over Bradley every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Beyond all of that however, remember that the Bucks are a pretty good team that may end up being very good and the Pistons are still off to a great start and this game was super close. No reason to have any heads hanging too far after this one.

 

What do you think? Would you have gone back to the starters? How many points per game would Kennard average on the Bulls?

Opponent Scouting: #FEARTHEDEER *Deer Noises* (7-6)

Tonight at 8:00pm EST the Pistons will be away from home to play against the Bucks. The Pistons are on two days of rest after beating the Heat on Sunday, the Bucks are on one day of rest after beating the Grizzlies on Monday.

 

The Them:

The Bucks recently made a splash by trading for Eric Bledsoe and they have gone on a 3 game winning streak since, although it may be unwise to look too much into that 3 game winning streak given that many of the same issues they had before are still very present. The offense is still solid with a offensive efficiency of 106.2 points per 100 possessions, while the defense is still very leaky, allowing 106.4 points per 100 possessoins. They are still lead by Giannis Antetokounmpo who is incredible on both ends even though he doesn't really have a jump shot he is so athletic and long that it largely doesn't matter. Khris Middleton is still their second best player and he is bound to break out of his shooting slump at some point soon. Eric Bledsoe is now starting at point guard, he is a good defender when engaged and can get buckets but he has a shaky jumper and turns the ball over too much. Tony Snell continues to prove himself as a very good 3 and D player but is limited to pretty much just that role. Jon Henson is the starting center now and he can block shots but does very little else on either end of the floor. Malcolm Brogdon is coming off the bench now but still playing major minutes, he is a role player but a really stinking good one who defends, shoots, and can inject bits of playmaking into the offense. Thon Maker is the backup center, he can shoot threes and is a good athlete but is severely lacking in girth in the paint and still has a lot to teach all the young players on the team. Matthew Dellavedova has not been very good for the Bucks, but he still can shoot threes with some competence and plays very hard on defense. DeAndre Liggins defends but is an almost total zero on offense.

This team is probably better than they were before they traded for Bledsoe, but they are still going to miss Monroe. They are almost comically small inside and if Brogdon and Snell come down from absurd shooting starts (both shooting 49% from deep) then they could quickly find themselves with a serious lack of shooters in the rotation as well. In the end, they are largely the same team they were before just that extra guy is a point guard instead of a center, they will go as far as Giannis will take them, Middleton and Bledsoe are both really good players and they have a few solid role players and some guys in the rotation who probably shouldn't be. A good team, but one with some serious holes.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Andre Drummond vs. Basically nothing: Until Mirza Teletovic and Jabari Parker return, with the trading of Greg Monroe the heaviest dude in their entire rotation against Memphis was Khris Middleton. Drummond wrecked all kinds of havoc against the Bucks in the last outing and there isn't much reason tonight should be different.

  • Stanley Johnson vs. Playing: Both Johnson and Leuer practiced yesterday and it sounds like Johnson is going to play tonight. That is huge for the Pistons as he is by far the best option for guarding Giannis.

  • Pistons vs. Guarding Giannis: They did an excellent job of containing him in their last meeting, Stanley Johnson kept him away from the rim and when there were breakdowns the entire defense collapsed perfectly to contain him. If they can do that again then the Pistons will be in great shape.

  • Middleton vs. Breaking out: I always get nervous when the Pistons play against a career 40% three point shooter who is shooting 30% on the year. He is going to bust out of that at some point, and I'm worried it will be against the Pistons, if it is then this is going to be trouble.

  • Pistons vs. Replicating: The Pistons put on an absolute two way clinic on how to beat the Bucks when they last played. Bledsoe adds a certain amount of unpredictability and athleticism that wasn't there before, but if the Pistons can execute the game plan at a similar level they should win.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Andre Drummond has a double double at half time.

  • The Pistons are shredding the Bucks with pin-point passing again.

  • Stanley Johnson is still keeping Giannis away from the hoop.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Stanley Johnson is out again.

  • Middleton is raining death from deep.

  • Bledsoe decides to have his first big game in a Bucks uniform.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • The Pistons play similarly effective defense against Giannis.

  • Andre Drummond dominates the paint on both ends.

  • Bledsoe and Middleton take full advantage of the attention paid to Giannis and have big games.

  • The Pistons win a close game lead by a huge performance from Andre Drummond.

  • Pistons 111 – Bucks 107.

 

What do you think? Does Bledsoe make the Bucks much better? Can the Pistons replicate their game plan?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #13. Pistons 112 - Heat 103. (10-3)

Very solid win and a good way to bounce back after an ugly game against the Hawks. The Heat are not pushovers by any stretch and the Pistons had to battle the entire way, great way to close out a great home stand and the Pistons are off to their best start in years.

 

 

Box score.

 

Reggie Jackson:

A very solid if somewhat unremarkable game for Reggie Jackson. He scored 17 points on 16 equivalents, only 4 assists against 5 turnovers with 4 rebounds in 29 minutes. One note on the turnovers, it wasn't actually as bad as it looks, two of those were travel calls which I was a bit unsure of (but couldn't tell for sure) and another was a long lob to Drummond that should've probably been converted. Regardless, he played fine on both ends but didn't do anything overly remarkable. In good news, after a rough opening to the year with his shooting percentages he has evened out, currently sitting pretty at 44.2% from the field, 36.5% from deep, and a true shooting percentage of 55.3%.

 

Avery Bradley:

I am not so sure about him leading the team in shot attempts, but this was still a very good game for Bradley. 24 points on 21 equivalents with 1 assist, 6 rebounds, and a pair of steals in 30 minutes of play. He had his jumper going tonight and also converted in transition a few different times, along with his usual excellent defensive effort. It continues to be fairly striking just how much of a difference it makes to have a guy who is consistently good at shooting guard at this point.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Bullock only played 21 minutes as Stan Van Gundy rolled with the hot hands in the second half and he did very little. 3 rebounds and 2 assists with a single missed shot were the only numbers he logged. HOWEVA, I would like to point out how nice it is to have a guy like Bullock to fill in for Stanley Johnson for a few games. Bullock obviously doesn't defend like Johnson does, but there is really something to be said for being able to have a fairly complete two way player to fill in. He doesn't do as much as Johnson, but he does enough. And it also certainly helps that even though he hasn't shot well, opposing defenses are still largely treating him as a threat from deep so he provides spacing.

 

Tobias Harris:

Harris continues to be flaming brimstone from deep as he went 5 of 8 from three and his season percentage is now over 50%. He scored 25 points on 17 equivalents with 7 rebounds and an assist. One thing that was well on display on several possessions in this game was his great shooting finding some real benefits. There were several plays where Heat defenders closed out too quickly on Harris and he went right by them to the hoop. I am not sure how well he will end up shooting by the end of the year, but the good news is that the Pistons have not wasted his hot streak if that is what this is.

 

Andre Drummond:

Nearly gave him the honors, but it is only required if he is over 50% or shoots more than 4 from the line so I'll hold off for this one. Drummond still had a solid game if not overly remarkable. 8 points on 10 equivalents (some of those were tips tho) with 17 rebounds, 4 assists, and a block in 36 minutes of play. The Heat defense mostly made it so that Drummond was not getting the ball a lot in the paint, and there were several times that the Heat simply fouled him rather than allow him to receive alley oop passes which is not a shooting foul. Hassan Whiteside ended up having a solid game but Drummond didn't do terribly on him. This wasn't a great game for Andre, but he did fine.

 

Luke Kennard:

With by far his biggest game of the year, Kennard got the hot hand and played 28 minutes including nearly 17 straight in the second half with the game in the balance, and he played very well. Kennard finished with 14 points on 11 shots with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. He also finally got a couple of threes to fall going 2 of 5 from deep, and even made a few good defensive plays. I'm not sure that this game means all that much, the biggest difference between this game and other ones he has played in is that a few more of the shots fell. HOWEVA, it is worth something that he played major minutes in a real game against a competitive game and didn't look out of place and was even good.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

Tolly has possibly found his long ball back. 9 points on 4 shots (3 for 3 from deep) with 3 rebounds and a pair of assists. He continues to do the excellent job defensively that he largely has all year and continues to be much improved as a passer and dribbler on offense that if his three point shot is actually returning he is only going to be better. He also played a little bit of center tonight to counter the Heat going small.

 

Ish Smith:

11 points on 7 shots with 7 assists without a turnover and Ish Smith continues to make his claim as one of the (if not just the) best backup point guards in basketball. He flew around the court, hit shots, and hit open teammates in his 19 minutes and him and the bench mob gave the Pistons some space in the early 4th quarter that the Pistons would never relinquish. Excellent game from Ish.

 

Langston Galloway:

Galloway didn't have a huge impact, he had 4 points on 5 equivalents with 4 rebounds. His length makes him a defensive pest but I have not seen a whole lot of great defense from him so far this year which has been a bit disappointing, but his length is a big part of making the three guard lineups that the Pistons played a lot of in this game possible.

 

Eric Moreland:

Not a good game for Moreland. He played just 5 minutes and had 3 fouls. A lot of people are not, but I actually am looking forward to the return of Jon Leuer.

 

General:

Credit to SVG for actually following through this time with promises of lineup flexibility. Kennard shared the floor with another shooting guard nearly the entire second half and he even went small with Tolly at center at the very end. I actually would prefer not to take out Andre in those situations but whatever. This is another very good win and the Pistons have a lot in the bank. I have no idea how good this team will eventually be, but this stretch is likely to end up being important for playoff positioning at the end of the season.

 

What do you think? Will Tobias keep raining death? Is Avery Bradley going to be an all star?

Opponent Scouting: Miami Heat. (6-6)

Today at 3:30pm the Pistons will be wrapping up the home stand by hosting the Miami Heat. The Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Hawks on Friday night, as are the Heat after beating the Jazz.

 

The Them:

The Heat are a pretty solid team, but not an overly remarkable one. They are likely to be in the playoff hunt the entire season but are likely to be on the lower end of it. They are lead by Goran Dragic, who carries a pretty large responsibility on the team and is also very good. He is an expert in the pick and roll, loves to get out in transition, can shoot, finish, and plays defense. They combine him with Hassan Whiteside and they have a really effective pick and roll offense to be based around, and Whiteside is also a good defender who is one of the best rim protectors in basketball and can get some buckets in ways other than just dunking. Dion Waiters is still here and he is still the same guy he was before. He is chucking away to 16.4 points per game on terrible efficiency while turning the ball over a lot, but at least he is still playing pretty hard on defense and he can catch fire and give you buckets at any point.

Beyond those three, James Johnson is a pretty good and goofy player who mostly plays center a lot of the time as a point center in the truest sense. He is a tough guard who is a fun player. Tyler Johnson is a nice swiss army knife guy who can do a bit of everything on the wing, Kelly Olynyk can shoot and do other basic offensive things as a big but is a bit limited, Josh Richardson is shooting very poorly so far this year which has hurt them but he could bounce back at any time, Wayne Ellington is a pretty vanilla wing player who does some stuff but nothing all that notable. Justise Winslow can't shoot or do much of anything on offense but he is still a solid defender.

This team was probably never going to be as good as a lot of people seemed to think heading into the year as role players regress from career years, but they are still good. Dragic and Whiteside are no joke on either end and when that is combined with the excellent coaching of Erik Spoelstra they will always be able to win games.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Drummond vs. Whiteside: The clash of titans so to speak. Drummond has actually given Whiteside some issues in previous matches and gotten the better of him on the whole, but I wouldn't put too much into that. Both guys stand as one of the only ones who can match the other for strength and athleticism.

  • Dion Waiters vs. Not getting hot: If he gets hot he can suddenly become awesome, otherwise he is very close to a net negative on the floor. Hope he doesn't get hot and the Pistons will have a much easier time.

  • Bradley vs. Dragic: Dragic is the engine that drives the Heat's relentless drive and kick attack, and he will be covered by Avery Bradley. Dragic is too good to be bottled up entirely, but he should be able to keep him contained to an extent which will be important.

  • Tobias Harris vs. Aggression: Justise Winslow will get him for a while, but the Heat are not exactly overflowing with good wing defenders and like to go small with three guards quite a bit. Harris should at the very least be able to get favorable switches with some ease and needs to take advantage.

  • Pistons vs. Not playing like crap: The Hawks are so bad that the Pistons won despite playing very poorly, probably can't do that against this Heat team. They are not world beaters, but they are not pushovers, Pistons will have to bring their game if they want to win.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Drummond is getting the better of Whiteside again.

  • Dragic is having serious trouble getting offensive creation against Bradley.

  • Dion Waiters is looking like a fanatical Trump supporter with all the bricks he is laying for the wall.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • The Pistons are not getting anything in the paint with Whiteside patrolling.

  • Waiters looks like a fanatical supporter of global warming with the fire he is raining down.

  • The Pistons play with the same lack of focus and energy they did against the Hawks.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Andre Drummond > Hassan Whiteside.

  • Tobias Harris gets going early and often.

  • The Heat offense is stalled all game as Bradley's defense forces them to run more stuff with Waiters, and it goes poorly.

  • The Pistons got Stan Van Gundy's message and come out firing, take early hold of the game and never let go. Not a blowout, but always in control.

  • Pistons 108 – Heat 100.

 

What do you think? Can Andre keep up his play against Whiteside? Can the Pistons close out the home stand with all wins?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #12. Pistons 111 - Hawks 104. (9-3)

Ugly, ugly win. But the Pistons are not in a position to complain about how they get wins, unless you believe that they are actually 100% as good as their record right now (which would mean they will push 60 wins on the season) then every win is going to matter down the road to help them with playoff seeding, or god forbid, staying in the playoffs at all. Every win they rack up now while they are playing so well will help in the long run, even if it is ugly.

 

Box score.

 

Reggie Jackson:

I mean, clutch much? Jackson finished with 22 points on 19 equivalents with 6 assists (against 1 turnover) with 3 rebounds and a pair of steals. He scored 8 points in the final two minutes of the game, including three pointers on back to back possessions after the game had been tied at 100. A lot of people are saying that Reggie is all the way back, and I'm not quite sure that I'm ready to be there yet, but he continues to play really well, and he does look like he is perhaps finding some of his touch back a bit. Perhaps more than anything else, he has pretty well shown that he is still the Pistons best guy to just make a play when push comes to shove, and it is great to see him playing so well.

He joined much of the team in having a pretty poor defensive outing, but he wasn't absurdly bad. Just not very good. Even though he made those clutch shots, he still is missing the occasional shot that he really has no right to be missing, but his true shooting percentage is all the way up to 55.4% on the year which would be a career high if it sticks.

 

Avery Bradley:

A little bit of an odd game for Bradley. He started off very well, but the eye test wasn't all that great for the rest of the game as shots stopped falling and Schroder started to get a bit loose, but looking at the final numbers he still had pretty solid game. He finished the night with 20 points on 20 equivalents, with 4 rebounds, and 1 steal in 35 minutes. Schroder did give the Pistons problems with his almost constant penetration, but that dude is legit so it happens. The main thing is that I'm officially worried about Bradley's habit of blowing layups, because I'm sure that is going to bite the Pistons in a big way at some point. In really nice news, Bradley has reached 20 points in 4 of his last 6 games and really has been good overall this year.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Getting the start again in place of the injured Stanley Johnson, Bullock didn't have a huge impact but played fine in his 29 minutes. He finished with 6 points on 5 shots, with all 5 coming from beyond the arc, which was nice to see him finally have a decent night shooting. He also had a pair of rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block. He basically did his thing, with the only one missing was a backdoor cut or two for buckets, other than that he shot threes, spread the floor, and hustled on defense for a solid but not overly remarkable night. I will say that in two games (supposedly likely going to be for at least one more) he has filled in as a starter really effectively, obviously he isn't the defender that Stanley Johnson is, but he's done a nice job.

 

Tobias Harris:

Tobias Harris is going to cool off from deep at some point right? Like this is getting absurd. He finished the night with 16 points on 11 shots, going 4 of 5 from deep to push his season mark up to 49.3% from deep nearly a month into the season for a career 34% deep shooter. The Pistons have said that it was a point of emphasis for him to be more confident in his jumper and he's often been a good shooter, just not from deep.

Regardless, until he cools off he is absolutely killer, he didn't get a lot of offense run through him as the Pistons offense bogged down but he continues to be hugely efficient and is killing teams with his deep ball. The downside is that he joined most of the team in just not having it on defense and also struggling to get out of several offensive ruts at various times.

 

ANDRE-MOTHER-FUCKING-DRUMMOND:

I mean, it was a really good night for Andre by any measure. 16 points on 18 equivalents (but like 4 of those shots were all on one sequence where he kept tapping it at the hoop and couldn't get it to fall) with 20 rebounds, (once again, like 3 or 4 of those were in one sequence) 7 assists, (against 6 turnovers of which 2 or 3 were not really his fault) and 2 blocks in 37 minutes of play. HOWEVA, he sealed receiving the honors tonight by going 4 of 6 at the line, including hitting a pair of clutch free throws when the game was tied at 98. I said after the last game that it would be huge for his confidence to come out and hit some free throws in this one, and he did it. Great for him. Plus, I like the sound of back to back 20 rebound games, even if a bunch came in quick succession.

One thing that I think he has improved on this year is smelling blood in the water on the offensive glass. Dedmon missed a lot of the game while being in foul trouble or being a bit banged up, it put the tadpole John Collins against Drummond, and Drummond has his way with him in the paint for most of their time together on the floor. He did the same thing to Karl-Anthony Towns, and the Bucks, and it is good to see. He is getting better at taking Ls on some possessions to just get back on defense, and picking his spots to really go hard for rebounds.

Also worth noting for Drummond, with this game he officially becomes the Pistons leader in minutes played this year (beating out Tobias Harris by 1 minute lol) and is up to 33.2 per game. Considering that the combination of foul trouble, poor play, and free throw shooting had him all the way down to just below 30 per game last year, it is great to see him eating up major minutes.

Ish Smith:

Ish is going to cool off at some point right? 17 points on 11 equivalents with 5 assists (against 1 turnover) in 19 minutes of play is pretty stinking good. The Pistons offense really struggled to get into a good flow when Ish was on the floor, which is kind of his fault since his whole deal is to get the offense into good flow, and the defense struggled, but in the end he basically said “screw it” and started to attack and it worked out pretty well. He joins Tobias Harris as someone I am cautionsly optimistic about, Smith's true shooting percentage for the year sits at 55%, which is almost 10 points above his career mark of 45.6%. Until he cools off though, it is good that the Pistons are winning to make the most of it, and he continues to look like he is really taking the right kind of shots and fits great with the bench mob.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

He continues to struggle with his long ball as he went 0-3 on the night, but still scored 5 points on 7 equivalents with the help of some free throws, he also tacked on 4 rebounds in 17 minutes. Assuming his shot starts to fall at some point he looks like he will continue to fit in as a killer bench piece, and his ability to put it on the floor and discipline defensively continue to surprise.

As a side note, there were two separate times when guys where checking into the game (Tobias and Andre) and they were just laughing while they came on as they talked with Tolly. I'm not saying that Tolly would've fixed the problems last year, because nothing would've, and as the saying goes: Winning cures all ills, but man, everyone just seems to freaking love this guy and it is great to have him back in Detroit.

 

Luke Kennard:

Getting some real run with Stanley Johnson out, Kennard didn't have a great game. 2 points on 4 shots with a pair of rebounds and 1 assist in 17 minutes. This continues the trend for his limit minutes as an NBA player so far. The eye test looks really good, he doesn't look even remotely out of place defensively, he makes smart passes, can create space for his own shots, and defenses are scared of his shooting on the perimeter, but the numbers continue to be bad. At some point he is going to need to hit shots, but for now I will take the eye test.

 

Langston Galloway:

Perhaps Galloway's first bad game of the season. He still scored 5 points on 6 equivalents, but he just didn't seem to provide the same sort of spark that he usually does when he comes off the bench and he had a couple bad defensive miscues. Maybe it wasn't really a bad game, but it wasn't all that good.

 

Eric Moreland:

Moreland only played 10 minutes with Andre rolling, and he did fine. 2 points, 4 rebounds, a block, an assist. He remains kind of wild but mostly in a good way, and he has enough basic skills that the Pistons can plug him into the offense in a smaller, but similar role to what they ask of Drummond and he can do it which has real value. I'm still not sold on him as a full time backup, but he absolutely works as the 3rd big, and pulling a guy who is giving you real minutes, and not bad ones either, off the scrap heap like they did with Moreland is a pretty impressive move for the Pistons.

 

General:

I will admit that if I was choosing the sort of shots I'd like to see the Pistons get up with the game tied at 100, I would probably not have picked back to back pullup threes from Reggie Jackson, and the fact that he hit them this time doesn't change that. HOWEVA, I would've probably picked something along the lines of “Give Jackson the ball and let him do his thing” and the reality is that at that point you live with the shots he takes. He had plenty of space to get both looks off so they were not bad looks, and I like that they had Tobias Harris involved in the action. I will say though, that I hope they get a little bit more creative with their crunch-time offense. I'm fine with simplifying it down from the motion heavy sets of the rest of the game and just letting your best players get buckets, but I'd just assume have a few less of those possessions end in Reggie Jackson jump shots going forwards.

 

 

What do you think? Is Reggie Jackson back? Will Tobias Harris ever cool off?