Game Recap/Notes: Game #3, Pistons 98 - Bucks 83. 2-1.
For the 2nd game in a row, the Pistons played a team that they came into the year exepcting to be better than, and for the 2nd straight game, they took care of business. Good win for the team, and they should have the next 3 games against the Knicks, Nets, and Nuggets, they are in a good spot to keep up a nice start to the year.
Not a great game from Ish, the eye test was ok as he did a good job of keeping the offense flowing and keeping the ball moving, but his final stat line was poor. 11 points on 17 shots (although 2 of those misses were on the last 2 possessions where the Pistons literally didn't run an offense.) and 7 assists with 4 turnovers, including 3 (by my count) of those turnovers being on uncharacteristically straight up bad passes. I don't know why he didn't get credit for a steal because he absolutely got one which lead to a KCP fast break dunk, but overall his defense was solid once again, which has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the year so far for me. In the end I was a bit surprised to see his final stat line be so poor, because when watching I didn't think he played that poorly.
Nice game for KCP, finally getting a couple of 3s to fall to score 21 points on 15 equivalents. (Although it should be noted, 3 of those points where gifted with a technical foul FT and an intentional foul at the end of the game) And his 2 assists where well earned as he threw several very nice passes in this game. He still could stand to speed up his decision making when he is passing, but he has shown much better vision and willingness to pass the ball so far this year which is great. In general he stayed in his lane on offense, and I hope that in film SVG (or whoever) beats him over the head every time they see him try and straight up beat someone off the dribble resulting in a horrible shot. Other than coming off a screen for a midrange jumper (which isn't great offense but it works for a few possessions per game) he should not be trying to create his own offense, and there were like 3 shots that he just has to cut out. Defensively he did manage to get some impact with a couple of steals, but it was a shame to see him spend so much time on watching other people play defense while he stood uselessly by Tony Snell, but whatever, he still played good defense. Overall a very nice game for KCP, and hopefully he can start to get a few more 3s to fall now, while cutting out some of the horrible shots. (Also only played 33 minutes! Yay SVG!)
Morris did not have his best offensive game, scoring 11 points on 17 equivalents, including 1-8 from 3. Just like KCP, he also needs to really learn to stay in his lane better, and although Morris has generally been very good at it, he strayed a bit in this game and it reflected his final line. He is a very good iso scorer, but he is not awesome, so when Parker, or Teletovic, or Snell are on him, he can do whatever he wants. But when Giannis is covering him he needs to give the ball up, and (by my count) he took like 3 or 4 shots against Giannis that were just bad shots. It is going to be a bit of a challenge for him and KCP this year, because they (should) have slightly smaller offensive roles with more competent offensive players on the roster, along with Andre making improvements. They both played larger roles last year out of necessity, not because they were really good enough for it, and they both ideally will be doing less now, and that's alright. They just will need to adjust a bit. (Although, once again, with Morris and Tobias, there will be enough mismatches that Marcus may end up with a similar role but that is kind of a unique situation.) On the plus side for Morris, he spent the bulk of the game guarding Giannis and he did a very respectable job.
Another excellent game from Tobias, and while I am going to stand by that he won't make it because there are too many good players at his position, if he keeps this up he will get some all star buzz, and it will be well deserved. He only played 31 minutes and Morris and KCP took a few more shots so he had a smaller role in the offense, but he was very efficient with 16 points on 12 shots, he also had 5 boards, and 2 assists without a turnover. He just sort of picked his spots and did his thing, he also went 2/3 from deep and is off to a scorching start to the year. He also continues to look hugely improved on defense, getting into passing lanes for a pair of steals, as well as playing good defense on Jabari Parker (as well as getting a few goes with Giannis) and generally looking much better. You often hear about guys working so hard in the offseason, but for Tobias, it appears to not have just been talk. He looks like he may be becoming the player the Magic hoped he would become.
I probably would've given him the honors anyways, but he went 4-8 from the line, and I'm keeping up my rule that he gets honors when he goes 50% from the line no matter what. Also, don't look now, but he's at 50% through 3 games.
Other than that, Andre was, once again, every bit of the guy that the Pistons need him to be. When the front office put this roster together, they were betting, for better or worse, that Andre was going to become a super star, and it is early but boy does he look the part. Going for a 20/23 game, on 20 equivalents, 1 assist (and several other very nice passes), 2 steals, and 3 blocks. He dominated this game on both ends, whether it was in the pick and roll, on the boards, or in the post. With Andre as with Tobias, you always hear talk, but it looks like he really has put in the work. He looks noticeably better and more comfortable in the post and is facing up to use his quickness a lot more, and he is running hard both ways and generally causing havoc on defense. Just a spectacular game from Andre, and after 3 games, (so obviously it is very early) he is starting to look like he is almost to “unfair” levels of goodness. There is just no other way to describe some of the plays he has made this year, a guy his size should not be that quick or that skilled.
And about those free throws, I don't know that he will keep at or above 50% all year, but I really do think he will be close (and remember, he shot 36% last year, so even shooting 46% would be a huge improvement.) because as silly and downright stupid as Blaha often gets with saying “well they look better”, they actually do this year. There was one free throw in the preseason where he just missed everything, and all the others are just looking like normal misses, which going from last year, he would hit one and then miss the rim completely on the next. If there was a scatter shot on the rim for his free throws, it would look much better. I'm nervously optimistic about his free throws for the future.
Playing 27 minutes off the bench, Leuer had himself a perfectly acceptable game, scoring 6 points on 5 shots, grabbing 3 boards and recording a block and an assist. Right now he is looking like the sort of guy that doesn't put up big numbers, but when watching the game he just does all the right stuff to make you better. Other than his tendency to get blown by smaller guys on defense, he is usually in the right place defensively and has some length and athleticism, he can handle the ball a bit on offense including the fast break, he can shoot, he makes smart passes on quick decisions, he can post up smaller dudes, and has a nice pump and drive game to counter his shooting. He is just the sort of versatile guy that you love to have coming off of the bench. As with everything right now, time will tell, but I'm very pleased with him out of the gate.
Beno was not as good as he was against the Magic, but he was still just fine. 6 points on 5 shots with 3 boards, also had 6 assists. The problem was that it came with 5 turnovers, which is far from ideal. He also didn't noticeably screw anything up on defense so I'm going to call it a win for Beno. As of now, I've no idea why the Heat cut him, but I'm glad they did.
Only played 15 minutes, which I'm not really a fan of, but he was real solid in those minutes. He didn't even take a shot but had 2 assists with no turnovers, snagged 4 boards and had a steal. He generally was just a really disruptive athlete on the defensive end, and made good, smart plays on offense. Which is fine, I just hope SVG plays him a few more minutes.
In his 11 minutes he was exactly what we expect from him, 7 points on 6 equivalents, got roasted by Monroe several times on defense, played hard, and generally was fine. He only committed 1 foul which was cool though.
For the 2nd straight game against a team with major spacing issues, the Pistons showed how devastating they can be on defense, they have length, speed, and a great coach. I want to see it against teams that play better offense, but that is 2 straight very good defensive performances for the Pistons, Andre has looked awesome, KCP is still KCP, Ish has impressed me, Tobias is much improved, and Marcus is still solid. It's early, but this team looks very good.
What do you think? Is Tobias an all star? Can this defense be played against better offensive teams?