Opponent Scouting: LA Clippers (27-25)

Tonight the Pistons will be hosting the Trade Bowl against the LA Clippers at the LCA. I am not totally sure what time the game starts, my guess is 8:00pm EST because it was flexed to ESPN and that's when ESPN games start usually, but the official schedule still says 7:00 so I'm not totally sure. Hopefully that becomes clear at some point in the day. Anyways, the Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Nets on Wednesday, while the Clippers are super rested after three days of rest. For a real comparison of how much better rested the Clippers are, neither team has lost with their new players, the Clippers are going for #3 while the Pistons are going for #6.

 

The Them:

The Clippers have a new look and have only played two games with that new look so it's pretty hard to say about their greater team. For the little it is worth at this point, they hold the 11th best offensive efficiency in the NBA at 106.7 points per 100 possessions and the 15th best defensive efficiency at 106 points allowed per 100 possessions. But once again, that isn't worth much at this point lol.

The Clippers are lead by super 6th man Lou Williams, who is scoring 23.3 points per game and doing it on great efficiency. He is chucking threes and hitting them at an elite level, drawing tons of fouls, and generally being an absolute menace even if he still doesn't defend anyone. Tobias Harris is averaging 21.5 points per game in his two games with the Pistons which obviously isn't a large sample size, but we know what Tobias is capable of. Austin Rivers has been hurt but is possibly going to return tonight, he is kind of a relentless chucker on offense but he's a pretty good one and he defends well. Danilo Gallinari is finally healthy and even though he has largely played like trash in the few games he's played this year, he is a good shooter and great maker of tough shots. DeAndre Jordan is the constant, a great roll man, rebounder, and defender. He is the most elite of role players and its always fun to see him and Drummond clash. Avery Bradley can still defend like crazy and shoot threes, Milos Teodosic is supposed to return tonight as well and he can pass. Montrezl Harrell is a good athlete, Wesley Johnson is long and not totally useless.

In theory this team still has enough good players with a nice balance of offense and defense to be a pretty good team, but only time will tell what the finished product ends up looking like. For now though, the Pistons should assume the Clippers will be dangerous, especially when they are so well rested.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • All the traded guys vs. How do they respond: Harris and Griffin will likely have some extra umph for the game. The hope is that Griffin does not try to do too much but instead channels it into a great game. We know that Tobias Harris is not ever prone to doing “Too much” though so that's good.

  • Drummond vs. Jordan: The best two rebounders in the game who's entire game revolves around dominating the paint on both ends? Yeah they are always pretty fun to watch.

  • Stanley Johnson vs. Aggression: Watching Stanley lately has me feeling like Emperor Palpatine. “Yesss, let the anger flooow through you. Use your aggression, it makes you stronger.” He's been awesome lately, so awesome that he may be able to work out even without a jump-shot. And the Pistons will need that.

  • Tolliver vs. Holding up: We will see if James Ennis takes some of the load off Tolly, but for now he is set in as playing nearly 30 minutes per game which is a lot for him. He is old and his style of play is taxing. I am a bit worried about him long term, but hopefully Ennis' arrival can fix that.

  • Luke Kennard vs. Getting that mojo: He hasn't played poorly lately, he took Nik Stauskas' life in his last outing. But I feel like he's been just a little less visible than he had been. I'd like to see him back to that.

  • Stanley Johnson vs. Tobias Harris: I don't know if this is a matchup we will actually see much of, but oh man I want too.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Blake Griffin revenge game.

  • Drummond>Jordan.

  • Stanley Johnson is still busting fools in the paint.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Tobias Harris revenge game.

  • Avery Bradley steals Ish Smith's soul.

  • Blake tries to do too much.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Stanley Johnson guards Tobias Harris, and it goes really poorly for Tobias.

  • Blake Griffin has a huge game.

  • The Pistons have no real good answer for Lou Williams.

  • Pistons ride a huge Griffin game for a comfortable but not blowout win.

  • Pistons 115 – Clippers 107.

 

What do you think? Can the Pistons keep the winning going? Will Blake channel his anger into a good game or try to do too much?

 

 

 

Game Recap/Notes: Game #53. Pistons 115 - Nets 107. (27-26)

Well, it was not always pretty but the Pistons closed out the Nets with a pretty decent win. And despite all that has happened, until Reggie Jackson comes back I'm not going to be overly critical of any win regardless of how ugly. A win is a win. Also, how much freaking fun are Griffin and Drummond?

 

Box score.

 

Ish Smith:

It wasn't a great game from Ish but it was certainly rock solid. 15 points on 16 equivalents with 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 29 minutes of play. The reason why it was just a solid game instead of a really good one (which his numbers mostly showed) is the things that did not come up in the stats. First off, the Nets became the first team to try to really stifle the Pistons by totally ignoring the non-shooters and Ish is obviously always going to be a huge negative there. He did some nice stuff to make up for it, including a really smart cut in crunch time off a Blake post up, but his inability to shoot is a big reason why this game was so ugly for the Pistons.

The other thing was his defensive play. The Pistons spent most of the night having Stanley Johnson guard Spencer Dinwiddie, this often put Ish Smith on Allen Crabbe which ended very poorly. Obviously it is not all Ish's fault that Crabbe destroyed the Pistons, but Crabbe got open way too often and even when Ish stuck with him Crabbe just shot over him. Both of the problems are things that are not really Ish's fault, he is in over his head as a starter and everyone knows and it isn't his fault he is short. But they are still realities of Smith being on the floor.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Reggie Bullock continues to be an absolute god-send. He only scored 9 points on 7 shots with 2 rebounds and 1 assist, but teams are now officially terrified of what he can do as a spot up shooter. Without him being such a threat I don't know if the Pistons could run out the starting lineup that they are. I also really like the way that the Pistons are squeezing every last advantage out of him that they can. Using him in a two man game with Blake down the stretch was fun, and they are running him all over the floor. He didn't put up big numbers, but Bullock had a big impact tonight. Also worth noting on the down side that he certainly gets some blame for Allen Crabbe's night.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Stanley Johnson is close to becoming a super interesting case study. Johnson had another great game, scoring 19 points on 15 shots with 2 rebounds, an assist, and 3 steals in 38 minutes of work. Johnson has fully figured out that he can put the ball on the floor and bash his way to the hoop all the time and that he should run in transition every time he can. Combine that with his usual stellar defensive effort and you've got a guy that is super effective. The reason why he is suddenly a super interesting case study is that he can't shoot, and he is not good enough to be anything higher than the 3rd offensive option once Reggie Jackson comes back. The question is that, can a tertiary guy be a positive offensive force without being able to shoot? I'm super intrigued to see how it goes and mostly I'm thrilled to see Stanley thriving like he has.

 

Blake Griffin:

Shades of Reggie Jackson right here. Griffin was having a rough night. The Nets were ignoring his teammates with regularity and sagging way off him to wall off the paint, he couldn't get a foul call, and both him and his teammates were missing jumpers. While Blake started to play better in the 3rd quarter, this really turned from a rough night to a really good one in the closing moments of the 4th. The Pistons basically decided that the Nets couldn't guard Griffin so they just posted him up time and time again and Griffin delivered in a big way. He had a couple of empty possessions but he was mostly brilliant. Following his big finish, Griffin finished with 25 points on 22 equivalents with 3 rebounds and 7 assists in 33 minutes. Dude was simply feeling it at the end of the game and it was just plain fun. I also continue to be impressed by his defensive play, he isn't great but he's been largely pretty good and he really communicates which I like. Regardless, this is why they got him. Excellent game for Griffin.

 

Andre Drummond:

I'm kind of thought this a little bit and in order to push the narrative I'll put it out publicly now while not mentioning it on nights where there is a worse argument lol. I think Andre Drummond may still be the best player on this team. He needs someone to go get buckets obviously, but this dude does everything else. He finished the night with 17 points on 20 equivalents (which isn't great obviously) with a NBA season high 26 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, and a +9 in 35 minutes of work. I agree with Stan Van Gundy that he was a little bit out of sorts defending the pick and roll tonight but he was still mostly good defensively, even when he isn't consistently crisp he still makes enough plays (he forced a couple turnovers beyond the steals) to be a net positive. I think that he may remain the glue that holds this team together, no matter how many clutch buckets Blake Griffin scores, but we will keep an eye on that going forwards. Regardless, Drummond had a monster game against a team that he should have a monster game against.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

Tolly had a pretty good night. 9 points on 7 equivalents with a pair of rebounds. He is like Bullock lite in that his shooting is extra important when he is on the floor now, but he doesn't move off ball in the same way so he doesn't have quite the same impact. The one thing that is worth mentioning is that if the Pistons stick with their current plan of staggering Blake and Andre to keep one on the floor all the time while playing Blake at the backup center spot, it is going to put Tolliver in a much bigger role. The only time that he starts to look kind of old is when he gets worn down by too many minutes, and I'm also not so sure how I feel about how vital Tolliver suddenly is to the Pistons. For now though, he continues to play really well.

 

Luke Kennard:

Kennard finished with 8 points on 6 shots including a filthy move on Nik Stauskas. He mostly just sort of did his thing off the bench. One thing to monitor is that he appears to have gained some good chemistry with Andre Drummond for dribble handoffs as the Pistons got really good looks on the (I think) three times they ran that. Given that Kennard is actually a good enough shooter to be worthwhile in the mid-range I like the potential there. Nice to see him back.

 

Langston Galloway:

Galloway got the backup point guard minutes and played well. 13 points on 10 shots with 3 rebounds and a pair of assists with a team high +11 in his 18 minutes. It is still mixed results with Galloway at the point, there have been times where his lack of penetration has killed the team in that role. That said, if Griffin is going to continue to be out there with bench mobs it makes Galloway much more viable.

 

General:

More teams will start to ignore the Pistons non-shooters to strangle the inside scoring of the big men, but I suppose the Pistons might continue to just bull their way through it by sheer force of will and playmaking. I also am not sure how I feel about a eight man rotation? That said, there should be some real credit going to the coaching staff right now. They didn't take time to decide that having one of Drummond or Griffin on the floor is a good idea, they are maximizing Bullock as the only shooter in the starting lineup, and have been able to get Griffin inserted with few hiccups.

The one thing strategy-wise that I'm a bit split on is the aggressive defensive style that the Pistons have played most of the year. On one hand, the eye test says that other than Drummond (who gets so many steals and deflections that he pretty much has full allowance to go out and trap whenever he feels like it) the Pistons are not fast enough with their rotations when they play super aggressive and give up too many open threes as a result. On the other hand though, the Pistons have pretty much been inside the top ten in defensive efficiency all season and while that isn't great, when you look at the quality of defenders on the roster a top ten defense is not bad. I don't know, I feel like they would maybe do well to tone it down just a bit, but if they keep winning then who am I to argue?

 

What do you think? Can Drummond keep up this level of play? Is this the real Stanley Johnson?

Opponent Scouting: Brooklyn Nets. (19-36)

I'm back from vacation. A wild one with the trade and whatnot.

 

Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be hosting the Nets at the LCA in Detroit. The Pistons are on one day of rest after defeating the Blazers on Monday and the Nets are on the second night of a back to back and the 3rd game in 4 nights after losing to the Rockets last night.

 

The Them:

The Nets currently sport the 24th best offense in the NBA at 103.1 points per 100 possessions and the 24th defense at 107.5 per 100 possessions. Spencer Dinwiddie is still leading the way, taking care of the ball and scoring in a variety of ways. DeMarre Carroll can shoot a bit and do some defense stuff, Allen Crabbe can shoot, Caris LeVert is a swiss army knife, Joe Harris can shoot. D'Angelo Russell is still getting eased back into playing time after his injury,Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may not play. Jahlil Okafor can score pretty well but that's about it, Nik Stauskas can still theoretically shoot threes but has never really made good on that. Jarrett Allen is bouncy.

The Nets are bad, but they play hard and fast with a pretty good coach. If the Pistons let them stick around then they could pull out a win at the last moment like last time, but if the Pistons keep it together they should be able to handle it.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • Drummond vs. Lol: This is pretty well established at this point. The Nets don't have anyone who can really contend with Drummond. Unless Okafor plays really well and draws some fouls Drummond should have mostly free reign on both sides.

  • Griffin vs. Lololol: If Hollis-Jefferson doesn't play again and the Nets roll with the same starting lineup as last night then Blake Griffin will probably be guarded by some combination of Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll. This is good for the Pistons I think.

  • Pistons vs. Dinwiddie: Ish Smith struggles with bigger guys. He hit a game winner last time out. Watch the dude.

  • Pistons vs. Energy: The Nets are on a back to back and 3rd in 4 nights. The Pistons have no excuse to be out hustled. If the Pistons play with good effort this should be comfortable.

  • Stanley Johnson vs. Being awesome: Keep it up young fella.

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Drummond has a double double in the first quarter.

  • Griffin has a double double in the first quarter.

  • The Nets look slow.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie decides that one revenge game ain't enough.

  • The Nets start to hit threes.

  • Jahlil Okafor plays out of his mind.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Drummond and Griffin dominate.

  • The Nets look slow.

  • The Nets fall behind early and while it never becomes a full blowout, it is never really in doubt.

  • Pistons 108 – Nets 90.

 

What do you think? Can the Pistons control the paint? Can they contain Dinwiddie?

Game Recap/Notes: Game #51. Pistons 111 - Heat 107. (25-26)

What a weird game. Pistons very short handed, Ish Smith going off. Regardless of anything else, a win is a win. Beyond that, a pretty good win all in all.

 

Box score.

 

Ish Smith:

Wow. Dight Buycks was out so Smith got some extra duties, and without Hassan Whiteside patrolling the paint Ish Smith was more than happy to take on the extra duties. This was probably the best game of the year for Smith, who finished with 25 points on 15 equivalents with 7 assists (1 turnover) and 4 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. Smith occasionally has nights where his jumper is falling and this was definitely one of those nights, on top of that he had a field day with the lack of paint protection. Olynyk had to give Smith extra space in an attempt to contain Drummond and it didn't work. To top it all off, Smith his a three pointer in the closing moments off a Griffin pass that sealed the game. Great game by Ish, his best of the year, and possibly his best in a Piston uniform.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Not as involved as I would like but the Heat stuck to him which is part of the reason why other guys had space to do real damage. He finished with 8 points on 7 shots with 3 rebounds and an assist in 36 minutes of play. For the most part I think it was fine but I would like to see him get a little bit more involved than this.

 

Stanley Johnson:

Stanley Johnson may be figuring it out. 13 points on 12 equivalents with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a +9 in 34 minutes of play isn't a huge line but he continues to pass the eye test like crazy. He is attacking the hoop every chance he gets, turning every opponent miss into transition opportunities, and still being a terror on defense. I don't know if his lack of shooting will be enough of a problem to keep him from being a starter next to Drummond and Griffin, but he has been about as good as you could've hoped minus that.

 

Blake Griffin:

In his second game with the Pistons Griffin had a more mixed performance than his triumphant debut with the Pistons. 16 points on 21 equivalents with 9 rebounds and 7 assists in 36 minutes tells a not inaccurate story. One thing worth mentioning is that he pulled a young Drummond at one point where he had like 4 offensive rebounds in quick succession that all counted as missed shots so he didn't have as good a rebounding game as the numbers show but also wasn't as inefficient as the numbers show. Regardless, despite Bam Adebayo adding another guy to his list of really good players who he's given trouble and a stretch of like three straight failed isolations, Griffin still drew extra defenders and facilitated out of it. He joined Drummond in helping Smith to that great night by the attention paid to him and his ability to create something out of nothing is super refreshing to see. On top of all that, he got it done in the clutch. He assisted on 2 of the last 3 Piston scores and put the 3rd one in himself. One of those assists was to Ish Smith for a three which is kind of funny but still.

It wasn't a great game for Griffin even if you account for the several offensive tips lowering his scoring efficiency. The Heat came ready for him and made things very difficult, but he still fought through to make plays and help the offense. That is the real quality that makes him a star. By the way, it is still kind of mind blowing that he is a Pistons.

 

Andre Drummond:

Lol, as much as Smith enjoyed the lack of paint protection, no one appreciated it as much as Drummond. Drummond finished with 23 points on just 16 equivalents with 20 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals, and 4 blocks. To top it all off he had a game high +16 in his 36 minutes and was the best player on the floor for either team the whole night. He got to the hoop on offense and even hit a couple of nice hook shots that are normally so terrible. It will be interesting to see him shift back to being more of a finisher with Griffin around while still realizing that he has learned a ton as a passer and ball handler. Drummond is likely to be the guy who feels the biggest bump from Griffin's presence and it has looked good so far.

A big thing I'd like to point to with Drummond's game tonight was his defensive effort. He got dunked into oblivion by James Johnson at one point and he was a little lackadaisical dealing with his own guy being a shooter on a few possessions but he was mostly excellent. I don't remember the exact parameters, but I saw a stat that said Drummond has been the best rim protector in the NBA recently, and while I would say that is probably a bit of an overstatement, Drummond has definitely really brought it on defense lately as evidenced by his 4 blocks and 4 steals in this one.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

Pushed into extra duty with the short-hands and he did awesome. 13 points on 8 shots with 5 rebounds in 28 minutes of play is a good game for Tolly, and he had a real knack for hitting threes to end runs that the Heat went on. He struggled on defense at times as he was asked to go outside his comfort zone but he mostly did fine.

 

Langston galloway:

13 points on 9 equivalents with 4 assists for galloway in 21 minutes. He hit his shots, which is a win for him in my book. Good game for Galloway.

 

Henry Ellenson:

Got some real minutes and was terrible. Went -11 in just 8 minutes of play. Ouch. I still like Ellenson's potential but he didn't help himself with his performance tonight.

 

Willie Reed:

He played a minute at some point lol.

 

Drummond/Griffin:

I'm going to keep an eye on this. After 2 games and 44 minutes the Pistons have a offensive efficiency of 119.8 points per 100 possessions and a defensive efficiency of 85.6 points per 100 possessions with Griffin and Drummond on the floor. Obviously they will not hold a net rating of +34.2, but my guess is that it stays a good combination. Talent fits. I am less confident in starting Johnson and Smith next to them though.

 

General:

They still don't really have Griffin involved in the real offense. Griffin mostly got the ball in various isolation looks and not a whole lot off of other actions. That is just fine, and we probably won't see him fully integrated into the offense until after the all-star break, but it is still something to watch progress. The good news is that SVG is putting Griffin in situations to succeed by letting him post up a lot with guys around him.

I'm skeptical about the staying power of the current starting lineup, I think Griffin and Drummond are fine together but its hard to have 2 of the other three guys be non-shooters. But hey, so far so good I guess.

 

 

What do you think? Has Stanley put it together? Was this the best game Ish Smith has played as a Piston?

Opponent Scouting: Miami Heat. (29-23)

Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be hosting the Miami Heat at the LCA. The Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Grizzlies, while the Heat are on the second night of a back to back after losing to the Sixers last night. The Heat are also playing their 3rd game in 4 nights.

 

The Them:

The Heat have a pretty good record but it is unclear if that is something that will keep for the length of the season. On the year they still sport a pretty putrid offense that ranks 26th in the NBA by scoring 102.8 points per 100 possessions and a defensive efficiency of 103.9 points allowed per 100 possessions which is good for 7th in the NBA. Those combine for a net rating of -1.1 which is 20th in the NBA, right behind the Pistons.

Regardless of the fancy advanced stats, the Heat are probably going to remain at least pretty good this year. They have an excellent coach, a couple very good players, and several really good role players. They are an expensive team with a lot of veterans which makes it a little murky as to whether they can be any better than they currently are, but there are worse things to be than just pretty good.

They are lead by freshly minted all-star Goran Dragic who is scoring almost 17 points per game along with 4.7 assists. He is a speed demon who blitzes the rim at every opportunity with good size to finish when he gets there, while also being a capable defender. Hassan Whiteside left last nights game sick so he may not play, but he is a monster rim protector, can score pretty well, and rebounds the ball. Josh Richardson is becoming a very good defender on the wing, can shoot threes, and handle the ball. Dion Waiters is out for the season unfortunately so the Pistons can't just let him shoot the Heat out of the game. Tyler Johnson is a good swiss army knife guy on the wing but not a whole lot more than that. James Johnson is big and can handle the ball, he is shooting very poorly from deep this year though, so as long as he doesn't replicate his last outing against the Pistons that should help. Kelly Olynyk is a big white guy. Justise Winslow defends but doesn't do much on offense. Bam Adebayo looks like a nice young player. Wayne Ellington is one of the best shooters in the game.

This team knows how to play, they know how they want to play, and they have a lot of veterans who are good players. Altogether that is a combination that can win you a lot of games in the NBA. They are probably never going to be more than “pretty good” with this current group but pretty good is enough to give anyone problems in the regular season.

 

Matchups to watch:

  • The Heat vs. Blake Griffin: I'M SO EXCITED I GET TO SAY THIS ABOUT ANOTHER TEAM WOW. James Johnson is physical but he isn't a great defender. It isn't clear that the Heat really have anyone who can guard Griffin, and especially if Whiteside is not there to protect the paint, Griffin could be in for a big night.

  • Drummond vs. Whiteside: Assuming Whiteside plays, this is still going to be the biggest matchup of the night. Drummond has often gotten the better of Whiteside, but Whiteside has the ability to best him.

  • Pistons vs. Defending pick and rolls: They got killed last time by the Heat passing around traps to lots of easy corner threes. The good news is that Drummond wasn't playing and he should help a great deal with that.

  • Stanley Johnson vs. Being his best self: Quietly you are hearing whispers that Johnson may be figuring it out. He is bulling his way to the rim at will, destroying fools on defense, drawing fouls, and picking apart defenses with his passing. He may or may not ever learn to shoot, but I'll take the player he's been recently.

  • Blake vs. Getting into the offense: The Pistons kept it very simple for Blake in his first outing (with good reason) largely putting him in the post and letting him go iso. The downside is that when the Pistons tried to really run stuff they couldn't really get him involved. The end result was that he was either THE action or not really in it. It will take time to get him fully integrated but look to see him be a little more involved in ways that are not just isolations.

 

 

So in conclusion...

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

  • Griffin and Drummond throwing lobs to each other.

  • Drummond's presence locks down the pick and rolls that killed the Pistons last time.

  • The Pistons start to look more comfortable with Blake.

 

Run for the hills if:

  • The Heat's relentless drive and kick attack is still giving big problems to the Pistons.

  • Dragic is eating Ish Smith up on both ends of the floor.

  • There is visible confusion at times with Blake on the floor.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

  • Drummond has a big game.

  • Griffin scores 30 points.

  • Goran Dragic is a problem for the Pistons.

  • The Pistons get big games from their star front-court and win a close but comfortable game.

  • Pistons 103 – Heat 95.

 

 

What do you think? Will Blake look more comfortable? Will Andre hit a few more shots?

 

Game Recap/Notes: game #48. Pistons 104 - Cavs 121. (22-26)

Further slipping. I am as optimistic and anti-panic as they come, but there is no denying. The Pistons must start winning games, and soon. If they let this hole get much deeper then even if Reggie Jackson returns sooner and stronger than expected they will not be able to crawl out. That simple.

 

Box score.

 

Ish Smith:

Back in the starting lineup and he did alright but not much good. 7 points on 9 shots with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. The biggest problem was that he was very lazy with his passes early in the game on his way to 5 turnovers in his 27 minutes of playing. For the most part he wasn't really a huge problem beyond the way that his lack of shooting hurts but he certainly did not play well.

 

Reggie Bullock:

Playing for the injured Avery Bradley at shooting guard, Bullock played a really good game. He poured in 14 points on 9 equivalents (going 4-6 from deep) with 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 30 minutes of play. He also largely did a decent job defensively, often taking on Isaiah Thomas. If the Pistons continue to lose there is a good chance that he will be shipped off at the deadline to a contender, but if the Pistons have any intention of trying to salvage this season or simply re-tool for next year they should be hesitant to let him go. He isn't great, but he can really play in his role. Of course that fact also makes him a good trade asset.

 

Tobias Harris:

I mean, he didn't have a great game but he did alright all things considered. He played more minutes at small forward which pitted him against LeBron James much of the night and he finished with 20 points on 20 shots with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. LeBron was often passive but largely did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted against Tobias which isn't surprising but is still a big downside of his game. There was however a scary moment where he turned his ankle and went to the locker room, because if Tobias were to go out for a significant amount of time then this team is truly sunk. For some perspective on this, since Jackson has been out the Pistons have been terrible offensively with an efficiency of just 102.1. When Tobias Harris is on the floor they sit at 104.5 points per 100 possessions, and when he sits they score just 97.2. If Tobias goes down before Jackson comes back this season is all the way gone, although admittedly it may be gone already.

 

Anthony Tolliver:

The Cavs are a bad defensive team. They especially struggle to cover shooters on the perimeter (not unlike the Pistons) and Anthony Tolliver was the big winner there. He finished with 20 points on 14 equivalents with 3 rebounds and 5 assists in 40 minutes of play on what is probably one of the best games he has played as a pro. He struggled to deal with Kevin Love on defense but that isn't exactly shocking either, but he competed at least. At least Tolly has recovered from a slump he had been in for a bit.

 

Andre Drummond:

Kind of a strange game for Drummond. He finished with 17 points on 16 equivalents with 11 rebounds, 4 assists (just 1 turnover), 1 steal, and 1 block in 35 minutes of play which is a very solid if not incredible stat-line by his standards. But I just felt like he struggled to have a significant impact on the game other than a stretch where he got loose for alley oops in quick succession. The Pistons also got totally destroyed with him on the floor again and even though I don't think that is really his fault he didn't do much to stop the bleeding.

 

Stanley Johnson:

A small bright spot remains Stanley Johnson. 14 points on 16 equivalents (although really 15 as he had another heave at a quarter end) with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 28 minutes of play for Stanley. On top of that he was one of just two Piston players to go positive with a +9 on the night. He played LeBron tough defensively, and while there were two possessions where he clearly got in over his head on offense, he was mostly aggressive without being too wild in attacking the hoop which was good. He still has work to do, but there really seems to be something clicking with Stanley lately, he has fully realized that he can largely bull his way to the hoop whenever he wants to.

 

Dwight Buycks:

Welcome back friend, I've missed you. Buycks himself didn't have a great night with 8 points on 9 shots and 3 assists in 21 minutes which included a couple of misses as a result of dumb shots, but the offense ran better with him out there. Even with his limitations, he is a legit scorer that the defense pays real attention too and he has enough smarts to get some milage out of the attention paid to him.

 

Luke Kennard:

Well, this was going to happen at some point. 2 points on 7 shots with 2 assists in 19 minutes. Not a good outing for Luke.

 

Eric Moreland:

In his 13 minutes he played decent I guess. He joined Stanley as the only Pistons to go positive on the night at +5 but he didn't really make a big impact it didn't seem to me.

 

General:

I don't know at this point. SVG is trying different things to get some life in the offense without totally killing the defense and some of them are ideas that I think/thought were good but they largely are just not working. The reality is though, that SVG more or less made this bed that he has to sleep in even with the injuries. It may be impossible, but he has to keep trying to find some way to get this to work somehow.

 

What do you think? Has Stanley figured something out? Should Buycks be back for good?