Game Recap/Notes: Game #14, Pistons 92 - Celtics 94. (6-8)
What a disappointing finish to the game. I'm totally dumbfounded by SVG sometimes, and tonight has to be pretty close to the top of the list. When Baynes came in for Drummond I literally turned to my brother and told him that it was over, even if the Pistons hit a 3 they would just give up an offensive rebound and lose on the ensuing possession. Obviously this was partially just a guess, but I believe this is the 3rd time this year that 2nd chance points have put away the Pistons in the closing moments with Andre on the bench. So frustrating. That said, there was some good stuff in this game.
Really nice bounce back game for Ish, his shot selection was better and featured only 1 wild toss at the rim on his way to 12 points on 11 equivalents, and his passing was similarly impressive with 7 assists against zero turnovers. Simply put, he was back into his best form, attacking in transition and finding holes to get uncontested layups, while shooting (and hitting) just enough jumpers to keep the defense honest, while focusing mostly on making good passes and keeping the offense rolling.
Even though Thomas still had a good game, Ish paired with Andre to play wonderful defense on Thomas, especially in the 2nd half. On both ends of the floor Ish was rock solid tonight and it was a really nice bounce back game for him.
Pretty miserable game for KCP, offensively he managed just 4 points on 8 equivalents, although he did throw 4 assists. Which all in all is not actually the reason his night was so poor, because KCP managed to avoid a lot of the super dumb plays that plague him, (although a couple of his shots were definitely questionable) but mostly he stayed within himself, the Celtics are not the sort of team to let him get a lot of open jumpers off of screens. The problem was, and often has been this year, that his defense just has not been of the same caliber as last year. He did have a monstrous block on Isaiah Thomas, and made a couple of other nice plays, but there were a few plays where he just straight up got beat by Avery Bradley or was not in correct position on a play. I do think it has hurt him that he hasn't been able to go against many point guards, but still, he just has not been the defensive force he was last year and his offense has not appeared to have taken much of a step forwards so far (though he is shooting better from 3), which leaves him as a good defender and mediocre offensive player. If he is an elite defender he can get away with it, but not if he is just a good one. SVG has perhaps had his faith in KCP shaken, as he played just 27 minutes, which is something I cannot recall happening in a close game. Perhaps it was just a blip and he will be back into the upper 30s next game, but it is something to monitor.
The Celtics were often quite content with letting guards switch onto Morris, whether that be Thomas, Bradley, or Smart. Marcus was also quite content with this, as it resulted in some literal warmup jumpers over Thomas. The Celtics gave him easy looks and he delivered to the tune of 24 points on 16 shots and a pair of assists. Defensively there was not a huge impact because the Celtics don't get much from their wings anyways. Simply put, this game was Marcus at his best, attacking mismatches and avoiding bad shots to be hyper efficient and expose bad defenders on the opposing team.
If SVG lost faith in KCP, he may have put it firmly in Tobias who played 42 minutes, and it was a very ok game for him. The 19 points on 18 equivalents is less impressive when his minute total is considered, although he did hit a few very clutch buckets including a 3 to tie the game, but he did at times struggle to defend Al Horford as well as Jonas Jerebko. It is also a wee bit worrying that he only managed 2 rebounds in so many minutes, but I'm not sure that there is really anything to it. It was a decent game for Harris, but not a great one.
If Andre had not struggled in the post (for the 2nd straight game) this could have been as good a game as he has ever played. He gave the Celtics even more trouble on the glass than his rebounding total suggests as he had a lot of tips, including forcing the Celtics to lose a couple of defensive rebounds out of bounds, essentially getting the extra possession for the Pistons without actually getting the board. His final line of 20 points on 19 equivalents was hurt by several missed hook shots that he should be able to hit, and he hauled in 17 boards. The place where he truly thrived though, was defensively, and this game is a good example of how stats are not always a good way to judge defensive performance. Andre did not have a steal or a block in this game, but he played freaking brilliantly. I am seriously considering doing a picture post just to highlight his defense in this game. Due to the fact that every single one of the Celtic big men can shoot, and Al Horford is a freaking sniper, SVG finally decided to allow Andre to leave the paint and go out and play defense. (btw, someone made a post a few days ago asking whether it was Andre or scheme that caused Andre to appear to get burned by bigs who can shoot. This game should serve as a resounding “its the scheme”)
Andre regularly was showing to Isaiah Thomas after a pick to wall off the lane, and then scurrying back over to the big (usually Horford) in time to prevent a open shot. Thomas still had a big game, but Ish and Andre played a wonderful dance of pick and roll defense on him, especially in the 2nd half. It was absolute brilliance and suddenly gave me real hope for the defensive future of this team. If only SVG had left him in at the end...
Not a good game for Leuer, played just 20 minutes (his lowest in a while, possibly all season) and went 0-7 from the field, with 6 boards and 3 assists. His defense was generally alright while on the floor though, and those 3 assists were against zero turnovers which is a good reminder of how nice it is that Leuer is so versatile, even when his shot doesn't fall, he does other stuff that helps your team. One thing that is a real worry at this point though, is his 3 point shooting, which now sits at just 28% on the year after an 0-4 night. Not a good outing for him, but he at least found a couple of ways to have a positive impact.
SVG finally busted Reggie into the rotation for at least one game, and played him 20 minutes. Bullock had 5 points on 5 shots going 2/5 from the field and 1 of 2 from 3, with 3 boards, an assist, a steal, and 2 blocks. The offense just flows better when he is on the floor with his passing and the spacing that he provides, and his defense looked good as well. Great to see him get some playing time.
0-4 from the field, 6 rebounds, totally blew it on the last play of the game. Although he should've never been in at the end to begin with. Not a good game for Baynes.
Actually a really nice game for Beno, 8 points on 6 equivalents, along with 4 assists against no turnovers. He was getting to his spots and he made the most of them, made good passes, and generally ran a good offense. Good game for Beno.
I've got some serious gripes here. First off, I love me some Reggie Bullock. Anyone who has read my stuff knows this, but I'm not sure how I feel about his minutes coming at the expense of Stanley. Tobias plays 42 minutes on a night where he was not exactly tearing it up, and Stanley gets a DNP. It just doesn't make sense to me. Bigger than that, why on earth was Andre out of the game at the end? SVG likely was afraid that the Celtics, being up by 3, might just foul him. But you can't foul away from the ball in the last 2 minutes, and even so, why on earth has Andre put in all the work he did at the line, including being just over 50% so far this year, if SVG STILL will not trust him to finish games? Totally dumbfounding, and I seriously hope that someone in the organization is able to give him an earful, because this is one of the dangers of SVG having so much power. He essentially only answers to Gores, so he can do stuff like DNP Stanley Johnson, and bench Andre to close out a game, and no one will tell him otherwise. SVG is a great coach and has done great things for this team, but there isn't a good excuse here, he screwed up badly on this one.
What do you think? Should SVG expand his rotation to 10? Play KCP less? How about Andre's defense?