The Detroit Pistons were heading into a three-game gauntlet road trip in California. Starting with a back-to-back with the Los Angeles Clippers and then the Golden State Warriors. The Pistons would then finish their road trip in the same building they started it in, except against the Los Angeles Lakers, not the Clippers.
If you asked fans and critics to decide how the Pistons would fair in this road trip, many would say they’d escape with a 1-2 record, at best.
Even though the Pistons were still only 7 games into the season, they were convincing many fans to believe in them. Trust them. Many were saying there are no more excuses for the brand new Little Caesars Arena to be almost empty anymore; a winning product should bring fans to the arena.
At 5-2, the Pistons were atop the Eastern Conference. Prompting Pistons legend Chauncey Billups to even tweet about it. He should know a thing or two about winning in Detroit, he was a part of the last successful Pistons team before this rebuild.
The Pistons had defeated the two monsters of the road trip, and were heading into a game they were expected to win against the Lakers. Well, if you trusted them you expected them to win.
Not only did the Pistons lose, but they fell in embarrassing fashion. It brought back the nightmares of the season before.
Gone was the ball-movement that had fans glowing after the Clippers and Warriors games. Gone was the defense that was making plays and producing easy buckets for the team.
All that was gone. What had returned was habits from last year. Reggie Jackson was breaking the floor with how much he was pounding the ball. The three-point shooting was atrocious, going 10/33 (30.3%). Fans forgot there was even a free throw line until the fourth quarter, where the Pistons shot their first free throw. They would go on to shoot 1/3 from the charity strike.
People will say that 2-1 on what looked like a 1-2 road trip is a win for the Pistons.
But, they’re wrong.
This is why fans are hesitant to trust this team and spend their money watching them. This is why followers like me are hesitant to praise this team. Obviously, the fact that it’s the beginning of November is a reason itself. It’s still very early in the season, so those unwilling to draw conclusions from these games is understandable.
I see something different, though. Actually, that’s a poor choice of words, I see something very similar.
This team has the same habits as last year. They don’t move the ball consistently. You can see how great, yes I said great, this team is when they move the ball. They have players who can attack off of the dribble, and when you move the ball, the lanes to drive into open like the Red Sea. However, this team doesn’t do it consistently enough.
The most concerning aspect of the Pistons first eight games is the fact they seem to be watching tape on the Detroit Lions. The Pistons, like the Lions, find themselves down double digits in almost every game they’re in. They’ve shown they have fight in them and won’t give up until the game clock hits 0:00. Yes, that’s a great trait to have as a team. Being down double digits in almost every game you play in, is not, however. It’s not a recipe for success, and teams that do this ALWAYS eventually get burnt (check out the Lions this year if you have sparred yourself so far).
Lastly and most importantly, the Pistons lost to the Lakers. People can say these Lakers aren’t such a bad team all they want, but this was a game the Pistons were supposed to win. This is what separates good teams, from average teams. Beating the Clippers and Warriors are good wins, but even a dead clock is right twice a day. Good teams win those games, and then handle their business against teams like the Lakers. You can’t expect to succeed if you can’t handle your business against lower level teams. Teams that play down to an opposing teams talent instead of asserting their own are teams fans don’t want to pay to go see… new arena and all.
Should you trust the Pistons to make the playoffs? Of course, the Eastern Conference is weak and the Pistons should make because they have the talent to do so.
But, should you trust this team to be more than a 7th or 8th seed and more than another first-round sweep? At this point, no you should not.
If the Pistons want support from their fans and respect from their peers, they have got to handle their business. They cannot be allergic to success and they have to stop trying to give their best impression of the Comeback Kids.
Until they give proof of these aspects, they cannot be trusted.
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