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?