The NBA is a make or miss league and tonight the Detroit Pistons had more misses than makes tonight as they battled with the Miami Heat. The Pistons entered the game with a 4-7 record, with nine of those 11 games coming with an injury depleted roster.
As we do after every game here at Palace of Pistons, I will discuss the three makes and three misses of the Pistons twelfth game against the Miami Heat.
First Make: Christian Wood’s Return
After getting a DNP-CD against the Timberwolves, #PistonsTwititer was very confused why Dwane Casey went with Thon Maker all night who struggled off the bench. Well, you asked, Casey answered. Wood played 26 minutes against Miami, finishing with 16 points, three rebounds, two steals and two blocks on 5-9 shooting. This efficient night gave Wood a plus-two in the box plus-minus, the second highest for the Pistons.
What I liked seeing the most out of Wood tonight was the fact that he played well enough to keep himself in the game down the stretch.
Wood’s solid game tonight does not discredit the solid game that Maker had tonight as well, but it is a welcome sight for the Pistons, as well as Christian Wood stans.
First Miss: Starters’ Struggles
The Pistons starters found another game tonight where they struggled as a collective unit. Detroit had only 17 first quarter points, shooting a collective 2-12 from the field in the first 12 minutes of basketball. These struggles did not go away, as Detroit’s starting five accounted for 60 of Detroit’s 108 points tonight, 22 of them from Luke Kennard, all which came in the second half. This isn’t the first time that Detroit’s starters struggled to set the tone for the rest of the team. There have been many times this year where Detroit has started games off cold because their starters have not been able to perform.
In a world where advanced analytics are an important measurement of performance, the Pistons starters were atrocious tonight as they were a combined minus-56 in the box plus-minus tonight.
If Detroit wants to get off of this three game losing streak, it starts with the efficiency of the starters.
Second Make: It’s Only One Game
I’m going to try to be Mr. Optimistic when I say that it’s only one game. The Pistons weren’t necessarily handed any gifts going into this ball game. For one, Detroit had just come off of a narrow loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves the night before. Then, they did not land in Miami until 5:30 a.m. due to weather delays, whereas Miami came off of three days rest. Finally, Detroit was without three of their best players yet again.
It’s hard to get a true measure of a team’s capabilities, let alone win a good amount of games, when key players are injured and you have played the most games in the NBA. Out of the eight games the Pistons have played this season, six of them have been part of back-to-backs, as Detroit has had three of them already this season. Luckily for Detroit, their next game is not for three more days and comes against the 4-6 Charlotte Hornets. The Pistons should have Griffin and Rose back for this game as well, giving the coaching staff and fans a chance to see this team at nearly full strength.
Second Miss: Pistons Perimeter Defense
Detroit’s perimeter defense tonight was absolutely horrendous. Coming into tonight’s game, Miami was shooting the three ball at a 38.4 percent clip on 33.1 attempts per game. Tonight, the Pistons allowed them to shoot 43.8 percent from three on 32 attempts. That’s truly unacceptable, especially the amount of wide open looks Miami had from deep.
The Pistons’ perimeter defense has been something that they have struggled with all year. Going into tonight’s game, Detroit ranked 25th in the league in opponent’s three-point percentage at 37.2 percent. After giving up nearly 44 percent from downtown tonight, the Pistons will most likely move a spot or two down on the list.
Third Make: Second Half Surges
At one point, the Pistons were down nearly 30 points. Most teams would throw in the towel, pull their key players and let guys who don’t get a lot of playing time some minutes. However, this was not the case for the Pistons tonight.
The Pistons went on several runs in the second half, getting the Miami lead down to eight points at one point in the fourth quarter. These second half surges were led by third-year swingman Luke Kennard.
After putting up a goose egg on 0-7 shooting in the first half, Kennard caught fire in the second half, dropping 22 points on 8-11 shooting. Kennard wasn’t the only guy to catch fire in the second half though.
Langston Galloway also put up a goose egg in the first half before dropping 11 points in the second half to help get the Pistons back into the game. Between Kennard and Galloway’s hot hands, the Pistons were able to go on a 17-3 run to trim the Miami lead to nine points in the fourth quarter.
Kennard and Galloway were able to find so many open looks due to the ball movement in the second half, especially from Bruce Brown who finished the game with 11 assists.
Without these runs, the Pistons would have easily lost this game by 25 points or more. However, the Pistons fought hard and you have to respect that.
Third Miss: Andre Drummond’s Foul Issues
For the third game in a row now, Pistons big man Andre Drummond has found himself in foul trouble. Over the last three games, Drummond is averaging 5.33 fouls per game, including six tonight, resulting in a disqualification.
Drummond fouling out tonight really hindered the Pistons chances of really coming back into the ball game. Detroit got outrebounded 50-40 tonight. Had Andre been on the floor longer, Detroit would have been able to grab more rebounds (in theory).
There really is not much more to say other than it would be nice if Drummond stopped committing silly fouls. However, that has been something that we have all seen out of Drummond throughout his career. If he wants to help his team win more games, he simply needs to stop committing silly fouls.
The Pistons are now 4-8 on the year and have a multitude of things to work on in practice this week. Luckily for Detroit, they do not play again until Friday against the Charlotte Hornets who are 4-6. The game is scheduled to tip at 7:00 p.m.