Opponent Scouting: Orlando Magic. (11-18)

Today at 4:00pm EST the Pistons will be hosting the Orlando Magic at the LCA. The Pistons are on one day of rest and their 3rd in 4 nights after beating the Pacers on Friday. The Magic are on one day of rest after losing to the Blazers.

 

The Them:

After a promising start to the season, the Magic have totally fallen apart largely back into the pits of sorrow they have largely occupied the last half decade. They sport the 18th best offense in the NBA at 103.6 points per 100 possessions, while sporting the 23rd defense at 107.1 points per 100 possessions.

The one bit of good news that has carried over from the start of the season is that Aaron Gordon looks like he is probably the real deal. He is scoring 18.3 points per game, shooting the ball well, and is an athletic freak who knows how to play defense. Evan Fournier is alongside him as the lead dog on the team, Fournier is a sweet shooting wing player who is something akin to the best version of what Luke Kennard could become. The bad news however is that both of them will be out for this game with injury, as is Terrence Ross. Nikola Vucevic still doesn't really play a lick of defense but he can score in a variety of ways and has finally extended his range to beyond the three point line with at least some success and he also is a good passer. Jonathon Simmons is still doing his thing as a swiss army knife type of player and is very good. Elfrid Payton can pass and is a good defender and finisher inside but his jump shot is still the source of a lot of frustration for the Magic. D.J. Augustin is still doing his thing as a electric scorer but not a ton else. Jonathan Isaac is the rookie big man who actually looks pretty promising as a super bouncy and energetic player but he has had some injury issues. Mismack Biyombo should make Pistons fans feel better about some of the contracts they have and he is off the bench and plays some defense and he can rebound. Shelvin Mack is around as a totally unremarkable guard, and Marreese Speights is a shooting guard in center form.

This team still has a chance to be a decent team if they can get healthy. But in their current form they are quite un-threatening and struggle with a lot of things. But if Gordon and Fournier can keep playing this well (and also avoid some of the supposed friction between the two about getting shots up) then it could be the first time in a while that the Magic have some real hope for building forwards. Even if it isn't a great one, a pair of dynamic wing scorers who are both young is not a bad starting place.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Drummond vs. Vucevic: Story as old as Drummond's career at this point. Drummond way outclasses Vuc in physical attributes and should be able to dominate the paint on both ends, but Vuc has the perimeter skills on offense to give Drummond and the Pistons trouble. Especially given the injuries, Vuc is by far their #1 option for buckets and if Drummond can keep him contained the Magic will really struggle to create points.

  • Reggie Bullock vs. Keeping it up: I'm still unsure about him starting over Stanley, but he finally seemed to have found his offensive rhythm in the last couple of games. If he can do that (hit shots, move off the ball, whip smart passing, good defense) consistently then it will be hard to complain too much about him starting.

  • Reggie Jackson vs. Getting right: It's been a while since he's had a good game. He seemed to get back into better defensive shape in the last game against the Pacers, but rumors that he may be having health issues again are starting to crop up. If he could go out and score 20 some points on a flurry of drives and floaters tonight it would put a lot of Pistons fans at ease.

  • Tobias Harris vs. Not being terrible: Ho baby he had a rough couple of games the last few nights. Without Gordon the Magic don't really have a great option for guarding him and Vucevic is not going to be a problem at the rim, so if Tobias could have a good game it would be nice.

  • Pistons vs. Proving it: I said it during the losing streak, but losing a bunch of close games to good teams isn't a big deal (Denver game notwithstanding) as long as they turned around and beat up on some bad teams. They have won the first two of the stretch, and if they get this one too then I'm pretty comfortable with where the team is at.

 

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • The Pistons are scoring crazy easily out of actions by just abusing Vucevic in the paint.

  • Jackson and/or Harris get going.

  • Vucevic is struggling to score.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Vucevic starts to rain threes.

  • The Pistons are struggling to score, because this Magic unit is not good defensively.

  • The Pistons just generally look slow and out of sorts.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Tobias Harris scores a lot of points.

  • One of Drummond or Jackson has a huge game. (Depends on whether Vuc opts to get dunked on by Drummond or give up layups to Jackson)

  • The Magic struggle to get any sort of offense going.

  • The Pistons get solid contributions from all areas and cruise to a comfortable victory.

  • Pistons 113 – Magic 100.

 

What do you think? Can Jackson get right? Can Tobias get back on track?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #29. Pistons 104 - Pacers 98. (16-13)

Everyone take a deep breath, tonight ended up being closer than you would like, and it still stinks that the Pistons went on that losing streak. HOWEVA, the Pistons are through the toughest stretch of schedule they will face all year, they are 16-13, and everything suddenly looks pretty good. My guess is that all but the most optimistic of us would not be displeased if we were told before the season that the Pistons would be 16-13 right now.

 

Box score.

 

Reggie Jackson:

Rough night offensively for Jackson in the end. 8 points on 12 equivalents with just 3 assists in 24 minutes. He only played 24 minutes due to foul trouble, and he just generally struggled to get anything really going. The good news however is that he looked to get back to the good defensive habits that had him playing the best defensive season of his career, which is good given how bad he was the last couple of games. Still a rough game for Reggie, but he played more the right way on both ends tonight than he did the last couple which was good.

 

Luke Kennard:

With Avery Bradley hurt (in a supposedly non-major way) Luke Kennard got his first start and he played really well. He finished the night with 9 points on 6 shots with 4 assists in 18 minutes. He did not play at all down the stretch (or at all in the 4th I think?) for defensive purposes but he looked great in the time he was out there. He hit his only deep ball, he got looks inside the arc, and made some awesome passes. The Pistons generally did their best to hide him defensively but within that he looked totally fine which continues to be a nice surprise form him. The Pacers overplayed his long ball and he made them pay on several different possessions with buckets and passes, excellent game from Kennard.

 

Reggie Bullock:

I'm still not sure how I feel about him starting over Johnson, but one thing is certain, Reggie Bullock has deserved this chance to really play for a while. He has found his deep ball over the last two games and tonight he was the best version of himself. Offensively he was the whirling cutter and passer who sneaks into any and every crevice the defense allows while also being a floor stretching sniper. He finished with 15 points on 9 equivalents including 3-4 from deep in 33 minutes. On the other end, Bullock continues to really impress this year, as he got the bulk of the Oladipo assignment and did a really nice job. Oladipo finished with 26 points on 24 equivalents but a decent amount of that was not against Bullock.

Regardless of the Stanley situation, (which is admittedly polarizing among fans right now) if Bullock can keep his shot at levels that he is capable of then it will be hard to complain too much about him being a starter. He is a complete player and fits in just fine as a starter.

 

Tobias Harris:

Ouch. 6 points on 14 shots, going 2-14 from the field with 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 28 minutes of play for Tobias who put up his 2nd stinker in 3 games. I'm not totally sure if there was something the Pacers were doing to cause the troubles, but given that they are not exactly teeming with great wing defenders it is pretty disappointing to have Harris struggle so much. He also struggled defensively at several different times of the game, and while you still take him every day of the week and twice on Sunday's obviously, but when his offense struggles like this he is hard to watch sometimes.

That said, it is important to remind that Tobias has been really consistent as a Piston so I'm not going to ride him too much for a bad game, especially since the Pistons won anyways.

 

ANDRE-MOTHER-FUCKING-DRUMMOND:

You know what's up. 23 points on 18 equivalents (including 5-8 from the line) along with 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block in 32 minutes of play. Drummond was the best player on the floor the entire night, he got into space and his teammates found him but a lot of his points actually came from him really forcing the issue himself. Whether it was on the offensive glass or by going to the hoop. His scoring tends to ebb and flow with the rest of the offense, and down the stretch tongight with Jackson and Harris struggling so much, you could almost say that Drummond kept the Pistons offense afloat.

Also worth noting, there are not a lot of big men in this league who can switch onto a guard like Oladipo on the perimeter and straight up block a jump shot in crunch time. That is the type of thing that really makes him special.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Even though he came off the bench again, he was definitely not heading for a DNP tonight and he finished with 27 minutes. He scored 13 points on 12 equivalents with 6 rebounds and 4 assists (without a turnover) in those minutes. In news that shouldn't surprise anyone, he looks a lot better on offense when getting to go against bench guys instead of starters and he also gets to take on more ball handling duties which plays to his strengths a bit more. I'm still a bit unsure of a Stanley Johnson bench mob given how many issues Ish Smith's lack of shooting already give the half-court offense of that unit but if Johnson can play like he did tonight then it may work just fine. He played with energy and did all the right things. Perhaps putting him with the bench and allowing him to handle the ball more on offense with those units is the best thing for him, we will see.

 

Ish Smith:

Ish is officially on the regression after scoring at a (by far) career best efficiency for a while. He scored 6 points on 12 shots, with 2 assists in 24 minutes. He still played ok in the end I think, the Pistons mostly looked at their best when he was pushing the ball and doing his thing, but I just hope that he finds some semblance of scoring balance back soon.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

20 minutes, 9 points, 3-6 from deep, scrappy defensive play, a couple hard screens set, just another Friday for Anthony Tolliver. Dude is rock solid.

 

Langston Galloway:

The volume was smaller tonight, but I nearly gave him the honors for his combined play over the last three games. 11 points on 9 shots isn't that great but he lead a charge to give the Pistons a big lead with some big buckets and he also had to guard Oladipo at various points. He was less successful than Bullock was but he mostly did an admirable job. Galloway will probably hit a slump for a couple of games at some point here but for now, just enjoy the way he fires away.

 

Eric Moreland:

The first game against the Bucks is right there, but this may have been Moreland's best game of the year. In 16 minutes he scored 4 points on shots with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks which are not big numbers even by his standards (unless you consider that he often doesn't score at all) but he really played a good game. I thought he played with more discipline on defense than he usually does and he made a couple of big time blocks. I was very disappointing that Lance Stephenson didn't try to go over his back for a couple more rebounds because I would've enjoyed a Moreland v Stephenson throw down but alas. Also, when you inevitably see the replays of Sabonis yamming it on Moreland, remember that Moreland would block the ever-loving crap out of the Pacers on a couple of other occasions. Very nice game for Moreland.

 

General:

With this win I'd say the Pistons are pretty much back on track. I'd still be surprised if they finished over .500 but the Pacers are a real team on the road on a back to back and the Pistons won in a pretty good game. It was frustrating, but the losing streak largely consisted of losing close games to good teams, as long as they keep taking care of business in an easier stretch then there are not any worries.

Also worth noting that SVG got his 500th win tonight! He is the 31st coach in NBA history to do so, and he has a decent chance to be 29th all time by the end of the year.

 

 

What do you think? Bullock should start long term? How about Luke Kennard?

Opponent Scouting: Indiana Pacers. (16-12)

Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be in Indianapolis to play against the Pacers. The Pistons are on the second night of a back to back after beating the Hawks last night, while the Pacers are on one day of rest after losing to the Thunder on Wednesday.

 

The Them:

The Pacers are one of the surprise stories of the NBA so far this year, and even though I still think they are likely to fall off their current pace (currently on pace for 46 wins) by quite a bit but even if they do, they will have far exceeded my (and many others) expectations for them. The Pacers still feature the 7th best offense in basketball at a rate of 108.1 points per 100 possessions and at a fast pace, while their defense is a mediocre but not too terrible 17th in the NBA at 105.9 points per 100 possessions for the 8th best net rating in the NBA at +2.2.

They are lead by Victor Oladipo, who with every week that passes is starting to look like this may actually be real. Oladipo is scoring 24.3 points per game and doing it on good efficiency even though he still isn't an effective passer. Thaddeus Young is still a rock solid consistent two way player who can do a bit of everything. Bojan Bogdanovic can shoot the ball really well, Darren Collison is a capable if unremarkable point guard, and Myles Turner has not made the sort of leap some were hoping for, he is still a really good young big who plays both ways. Cory Joseph is as good as they come off the bench, Domantas Sabonis has been awesome off the bench as he is back in the post, Lance Stephenson is wildly entertaining and has actually been more so in a good way than a bad way this year. T.J. Leaf looks like a good find as a sort of stretch 4 in a young guy.

Even if they are not going to hold on to this kind of success, this team plays hard, they play fast, and they have a decent amount of cohesion together and will probably never be an easy out.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Bradley vs. Oladipo: Avery Bradley has done a great job on Oladipo in the two times these teams have played so far this year, and if Oladipo is held in check then this offense loses a great deal of their danger. The Pistons handily beat the Pacers once and had a meltdown for the ages in the other game. So if Bradley can repeat his success against Oladipo and the Pistons avoid an almost comical meltdown the Pistons should be in great shape.

  • Drummond vs. Turner: In what has almost become a classic style matchup for Drummond at this point, the two centers figure to play a major role in this game. Drummond is bigger and stronger inside than Turner (though Turner is no slouch in that department) but Turner has perimeter offensive skills that can give Drummond and the Pistons problems on the other end. Drummond has mostly done well against Turner so far but that could certainly change.

  • Reggie Jackson vs. Getting right: Jackson hasn't had a really good game for a while, it would be great if he could change that tonight. It won't be easy with Turner patrolling the paint but the Pacers are not an overly stout defensive team so he should still have a chance.

  • Rotations: Idk what to say about it, but how much Stanley Johnson plays (will Bullock keep starting?) and also if SVG will put in Boban or not both hang as a bit of an elephant in the room for the Pistons right now.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Drummond>Turner.

  • Bradley locks up Oladipo again.

  • This time when Lance takes stupid threes they don't bank it.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Lance banks in a three.

  • Turner is hitting jumpers.

  • The Pistons struggle to defend Thad Young.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Reggie Jackson has a nice game.

  • Oladipo struggles with efficiency but he fights his way to some points.

  • Tobias Harris scores a lot of points.

  • The Pistons play a solid two way game and win a fairly close but comfortable game.

  • Pistons 105 – Pacers 98.

 

What do you think? Can the Pistons get the ship righted? Can Bradley contain Oladipo?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #28. Pistons 105 - Hawks 91. (15-13)

Good to get back into the win column and a good way to do it. The Hawks are bad and while they maybe stuck around a little longer than you would've preferred in the first half the Pistons mostly took care of business.

 

Box score.

 

Reggie Jackson:

Jackson didn't have all that good of a game but he was fine mostly. 11 points on 11 shots with 5 assists (4 turnovers) in 28 minutes. He just wasn't overly involved through most of the game, but other guys had it going so it was ok, I still want to see him bust out of this slump in a big way but he was still fine.

The bigger worry for me is that he has been really not good defensively the last few games, and his defensive improvement has been a big part of him having such a great year so far, and if he falls back to being lazy and slow then it would really hurt his game and the team as a whole. There just isn't enough defensive talent other places (especially if Stanley Johnson doesn't come back to the starting lineup) to make up for him being a black hole defensively.

 

Avery Bradley:

Bradley has struggled as much or more than anyone else during the losing streak, but he busted out of that in a big way in this game. 18 points on 16 equivalents with three assists (including one for a awesome oop to Drummond) in 27 minutes of play, while also largely being responsible for keeping Schroder in check to the tune of just 9 points on the night. Bradley just had it going in a good way and I also like that they were not force feeding him as much as they have at times, he picked his spots and made the most of them.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Starting once again, Bullock probably had his best game of the year. In his limited playing time this year he has really struggled to shoot the ball but he found it a bit. 10 points on 8 shots including a couple of threes was nice to see in his 24 minutes of play. He also did his thing by playing hard and mostly smart defense and throwing mostly smart passes. I'm still not much of a fan of putting Johnson on the bench, but I am happy to see Bullock get a chance to really play and he may end up fitting in really well as a starter.

 

Tobias Harris:

It wasn't a huge volume night for Harris, but this was an excellent game for him and a great bounce back from an absolute stinker against Denver. 19 points on just 12 equivalents with 4 rebounds, a pair of assists, a steal, and a game high (by a wide margin) +21 in 31 minutes of play. The other good news was that he only hit 1 three (on 3 tries) on his way to the super efficient night. Often times this year when he has good games in volume or efficiency it has been the result of him just hitting a bunch of threes and less that he is getting really involved in the offense and finding his shots. Tonight was the opposite. He handled the ball, got to his spots, and got his shots.

 

Andre Drummond:

Also bouncing back from a couple of stinkers, Drummond nearly got a triple double. 12 points on 13 equivalents with 19 rebounds, 8 assists (in the game they listed him at 9 so they must've taken one away), 2 steals, and 2 blocks in 32 minutes of work. Particularly late in the game he was a little slow on defense but he was mostly fine on that end. All in all this was a really good game for Drummond and along with Tobias Harris a really important bounce back game.

 

Ish Smith:

Not a good game for Ish who scored 4 points with 1 assist in just 10 minutes as he tallied 5 fouls in that time. I'm not worried about it as a problem going forwards but there really isn't an excuse for a point guard to have that happen.

 

Langston Galloway:

Who's cooled off? Galloway went for 17 points on 11 shots in 22 minutes off the bench, and even ran point guard for a couple stretches with Ish in foul trouble. Dude continues to be absolutely fearless in his gunning from deep and it is a boon for the bench mob when he is hitting. I think that the reality is that Galloway is just going to be streaky from game to game and we will have to live with that, but I doubt any of these streaks are going to last longer than a couple of games.

 

Luke Kennard:

Ouch. 4 points on 9 equivalents for Kennard who just couldn't get the ball in the basket in his 19 minutes of play. I think he played a fine game other than that though. He did his thing where he mostly is in the right place defensively and he took good shots on offense.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

6 points on 5 shots in 15 minutes for Tolly. He pretty much just did his thing. He played hard and effective defense and chucked on offense.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Only played 15 minutes and he seemed kind of invisible in them. I don't know how I feel about this whole deal, but whatever for now I guess.

 

Eric Moreland:

Played hard. Got 11 rebounds in 15 minutes, almost got in a fight, had some tremendous screw ups and a couple of really nice hustle plays. In other words it was just another day at the office for Moreland.

 

Henry Ellenson:

Played a couple minute sin garbage time. Hit a nice fadeaway.

 

General:

As frustrating as the losing streak was/is, tonight was a good reminder that this Pistons team is probably still pretty good. It will be tough against Indiana on a back to back but they should have plenty of chances to beat up on weak teams for a couple of weeks, if they can do like they did tonight then they can find themselves right back in the mix towards the upper end of the conference.

 

What do you think? Should Bullock keep starting? Will this right the ship for the Pistons?

Opponent Scouting: Atlanta Hawks. (6-21)

Tonight at 7:30pm EST the Pistons will be in Atlanta to play against the Hawks. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Nuggets on Tuesday. The Hawks are also on one day of rest after losing to the Cavs. The Hawks are also undefeated.

 

The Them;

The Hawks are bad. They feature the 21st offense in the NBA at 103.5 points per 100 possessions, while their defense is the 29th with 108.7 per 100 possessions for the 27th net rating of -5.2.

The Hawks are lead by Dennis Schroder, who is probably the best player on any of the worst few teams in the NBA. He scores just over 20 points with 6.4 assists and pretty good efficiency of both. He is almost certainly having to do more than he really should be but he is good. Beyond him, Taurean Prince is a good athlete who is actually shooting the ball pretty well this year, Kent Bazemore has found some three point shooting back but is still struggling but he can still play defense. Marco Belinelli is a good shooter still, Dewayne Dedmon is able to do very basic things as a big man (but is out). John Collins is really athletic and looks great as a young guy, Ersan Ilyasova can shoot, Malcolm Delaney can do some basic stuffs as a point guard, Luke Babbitt can shoot. This team has very few guys who scare you. The Hawks are bad, but they are also undefeated.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Pistons vs Offense: The last game against the Nuggets was very bad. The Pistons need to find their offense back one way or another.

  • Pistons vs. Containing Schroder: He is the Hawks best player by a mile, and it will take a team effort to keep him in check. If you keep him in check you beat the Hawks, if you don't, you probably still beat the Hawks but they have a chance.

  • Bench mob vs. Getting out in transition: Opponents have done a really good job of making Ish Smtih lead units play in the half-court. That needs to change for the bench mob to get back to its dominant ways.

  • ULEASH THE BOBAN: I'm fully on the Boban train now. I don't care if the other team has a center who can shoot, that guy has to guard Boban on the other end. He is a great safety valve to have when the bench mob has to play out of the half-court. Put him on the floor.

  • Pistons vs. Eternal sadness: The Pistons are coming off one of the most brutal stretches of scheduling of any team in the NBA. As frustrating as a losing streak is, it was not implausible before it happened. If they can turn around and kill the Hawks and beat up on bad teams for the next couple of weeks, they will be just fine. Otherwise they might actually just suck and I will be sad.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • The Pistons actually can score.

  • Boban is punking fools.

  • Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond bounce back and have good games.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Dennis Schroder starts scoring in bunches.

  • The Pistons cannot create offense at all.

  • The Pistons lose.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • The loss to the Nuggets wakes up the team.

  • The Pistons smother the Hawks from the outset.

  • Boban Stronk.

  • Pistons 105 – Hawks 77.

 

What do you think? Can they bounce back? Is eternal sadness upon us?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #27. Pistons 84 - Nuggets 103. (14-13)

Whelp.

 

 

Box score.

 

Reggie Jackson:

Second straight rough game for Jackson. Not as bad as the last game but still not much good. 12 points on 12 equivalents with 4 assists in 25 minutes. Looking at the stats it actually looks better than it was, he missed several shots that he really needs to hit with floaters at various times, which is partially just bad luck but there is a certain point where even if it is just bad luck for one game, you just have to hit those shots.

The more worrying thing over the last two games is that Jackson has looked a half step slower defensively, a lot of praise has been directed his way (rightfully so) by becoming a largely passable defensive player but he hasn't been that the last couple. I don't know if maybe I am just seeing things since everyone is largely playing like crap or if maybe he just got gassed for whatever reason or something else, but it is just what I saw.

 

Avery Bradley:

This was the worst game Bradley has played in a Pistons uniform. 6 points on 11 equivalents in 24 minutes is terrible, but the thing that pushed it over the edge was that he wasn't even good on defense. I don't know, maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought but he didn't seem to make any significant defensive impact. Bradley has been the biggest person struggling in this losing streak.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Getting the start in (probably) an effort to add more shooting on the floor, an he individually actually played fine. 6 points on 5 shots in 22 minutes and he largely did fine as a defender. I'm not sure how I feel about him starting (more about that later) but he did fine. On the plus side, it looks like Stanley Johnson wasn't actually the problem with the offense of the starters.

 

Tobias Harris:

Ouch. Look, I don't want to pile on Harris too badly, he is consistent and does the right stuff a lot and he actually somehow ended up with 8 assists tonight. But 2 points on 8 equivalents (0-7 from the field) in 30 minutes just isn't going to cut it. Maybe I missed it when I half-tuned out later in the game, I don't know, but I didn't think he had that many assists so they must not have been overly impressive plays but maybe I'm wrong about that. Regardless, Harris doesn't really have a good excuse for not being able to score. He also was straight trash on defense.

 

Andre Drummond:

Why you gotta do this to me Andre? I've spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks talking about how Drummond has been the bright spot in the losing streak because even thought he Pistons are losing, Drummond was still having really good games and helping to keep the team afloat (or at least close against good teams) while the rest of the team struggled. Then he goes and lays an egg in two straight games. 6 points on just 6 equivalents with 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 6 turnovers in 27 minutes. It isn't totally his fault since a lot of his points comes from others creating and if teams overcompensate to him (which often happens) it is up to the others to make good on the space created, but this is still bad.

 

Ish Smith:

Yep, Ish Smith is a problem sometimes. 8 points on 14 shots with 5 assists in 23 minutes. Once again the opposing team made great effort to get back on defense and make him play in the half court where he struggles. And while I suppose he should get some credit for the bench keeping them in the game, but that wasn't really due to him I don't think.

 

Langston Galloway:

At least someone found their shot tonight. Galloway went for 18 points in 22 minutes and shot 5-7 from deep. The problem is that a lot of it happened late in the game, and while it wasn't really garbage time yet the game was certainly mostly out of reach.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

3 points on 2 shots, nothing really notable for Tolly.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Played 14 minutes but was only put in later in the game. Went 0-3 and made a few good defensive plays. It looked like he was headed for a DNP before SVG put him in the game late.

 

BOBAN:

The one true bright spot tonight, Boban put up 14 points on 10 equivalents with 5 rebounds and a pair of assists in just 13 minutes. Tonight has put me fully on the “MOAR BOBAN” train. Dude is a problem for opponents and was the literally the only good thing for the Pistons tonight.

 

Luke Kennard:

3 points on 3 shots in 13 minutes. Kennard didn't really do anything of significance.

 

Ellenson/Moreland:

Both played a bit late in the game. Ellenson actually got a few buckets, Moreland didn't do anything.

 

The lineup change:

I mean, I get it. Stanley hasn't been able to shoot or score at all and perhaps more shooting will help the starters. HOWEVA, I don't know that Reggie Bullock was the answer tbh. I love Bullock, but I would've much rather had Tolliver enter the starting lineup. The thing that I didn't like is that it legitimately looked like Stanley was headed for DNP if the game hadn't gotten out of hand. He did get in before true garbage time but it was only because the game was mostly out of reach. Unless there is something that we don't know about that has him in the dog house (which is entirely possible) then I really would not like him to get straight up benched. I largely trust SVG in his treatment of Stanley, he managed to push the right buttons last year to get him to take a big step defensively and he is way better this year, but I'm still not sure about this. Even though I'd rather leave him as a starter I understand if they want to try more shooting, but you definitely need his defense in the rotation at some point. (Once again, if it turns out that there is something we don't know about that would put him in the dog house then that would change things)

 

General:

This was bad. It isn't full on panic time, but this was very bad. The problem wasn't even that the Pistons lost, it is how they lost. If you had told me before the game that the Pistons would lose while Jamal Murray went off for a big game I would've believed you and as much as it would suck to lose another game it wouldn't be a huge deal. Without Jokic the Nuggets struggle to create consistent offense night in and night out but they have some streaky shooters and scorers who can let them get buckets occasionally. For instance, despite the fact that Murray is shooting poorly this year and averaging only like 13 points per game, he has gone over 25 points five times already this year. So the reality is that I'm not all that upset about that.

The problem is that the offense looked awful again. I wasn't worried about it after the last game because in case you didn't know it, the Celtics have made a lot of offenses look awful this year. The Warriors failed to score 90 points in a game against the Celtics. The Nuggets however, are not that. They are a legitimately bad defensive team, and the Pistons still could not score. That is a problem. Hopefully they can beat up on Atlanta and get back in a groove for an easier stretch of schedule, but I'm officially worried. On the other hand, my guess is that if I had told most of you that the Pistons would be 14-13 you wouldn't have been overly upset about it.

 

What do you think? How can you fix the offense? Why do we do this to ourselves?