Game Recap/Notes: Game #11. Pistons 104 - Cavs 99. 6-5 WOOT WOOT
Ho baby what a good game and a good win. Really good bounce back and a good effort from the whole team.
Reggie-MUTHA-FUKIN-Jackson: Easily his best game this year. He came out aggressive, and the Cavs were over playing Drummond and the shooters, and Reggie took the layup line that resulted. But then the hard part started. They started to actually cover him. And he was forced to make the smart passes/plays and a lot of them were hard plays. But he regularly made them. He hit Drummond for several oops, and also had a couple of what I will call "Drummond assists." Where the primary ball handler draws the opposing big, but does not have enough space to throw a real lob. So instead they just toss it at the rim and count on Drummond to clean up. Jackson did have 5 turnovers still, but when he has 12 assists to go with his 23 points we can take that. He made good decisions and was a huge problem all game. The Cavs could not really keep him from slicing into the lane and once he gets there he is trouble. Also holy hell his defense. It was nothing spectacular all game, he did a fine job on Mo Williams but nothing special. But at the end of the game he got switched onto LeBron James on 2 (?) straight possessions. And he held freaking firm on him. Obviously help had to come over but he did not give James anything. Admittedly, I think if it was a playoff game James would probably have just tried (and likely succeeded) to score instead of pass out of those plays. But they made it a choice for him. And I'm also going to give myself a quick shoutout for calling the good game from Reggie because I gotta take the wins I can find lol. But actually, this is the sort of game you have to look for. Everyone has games where they struggle, it happens. But when you turn around from that struggle and have a great game it shows that it was just a bad night. Great game from Jackson. (Also as an aside, he has a big ole brace on his leg where he got hurt against Golden State. It obviously did not hinder him much tonight but I would say that is pretty good proof that he has been playing at least a little bit hurt the past few games.)
KCP: Pretty good game, but not a great one. JR Smith got off to a hot start, and part of that is because it is JR Smith and it happens, but KCP did not do a lot to make things hard for him early on. But he pulled it together by the second quarter and played his usual excellent defense. His outside shot is still off as well. (1/5 from deep) HOWEVA, this game is a perfect example of how much better he is this year from last. Last year this would be the sort of game where he is "Kid Can't Play" because when his shot was off he was almost useless on offense. But he was able to salvage his game on offense by getting to the hoop and finishing really well. His ability to score inside the arc is such a huge addition to his game. Still though, if he doesn't start to hit some 3s soon I'm going to start gettting worried. But still a pretty solid game from KCP.
Greater Morris: Played a really solid game considering the circumstances. And those circumstances being that he had to go end to end with LeBron all night. His defense on James was not great by any stretch, but Morris is not an awesome one on one defender, so he did as well as could be expected. He competed, and generally avoided giving James easy points. He was able to contest jumpers (even if James hit a lot of them) and at least stayed with James when he drove. On the other end his jumper remains off, but he found ways to score by getting to the line (5/6 from the line) and getting to the hoop. He kind of falls in with KCP here. He is not as good a defender but he also is better at scoring. And also provides a dash of playmaking/passing when he does drive. I was high on him before the season and this was a good game, but like KCP, if he does not start to hit some of his jumpers soon I am going to start to get worried. Although he draws so many fouls that he can survive when his jumper is off. But if he stays this cold from outside teams will start to sag off him a bit. But, this was exactly the sort of game I have come to expect from Morris. Competes every minute he is on the floor, and finds ways to help the team. (Also, I mentioned this in my season check up post, and they showed a graphic for it in the broadcast, but it is remarkable to me how good his on/off court numbers are. Obviously all of those stats have a lot of noise to them, but he also has spent more time with bench guys than most of the other starters. But just watching you can see how it could be. He just does all the right stuff to help a team win. Keep an eye on those numbers to see if they hold up over the course of the season.)
Ersan Ilyasova: Tale of two ends of the court here. On offense, he was awesome. He was became the beneficiary of help going towards the Dre/Reggie PnR and made the Cavs pay for helping off of him. (4/6 from 3) And generally making smart plays. On defense though he was less effective. He is not good enough to really defend Kevin Love and it showed. I'm honestly surprised that they did not give Love more post ups against Ilyasova, because it was pretty clear that Ersan stood little chance against Love there. Ersan also really can struggle closing out on shooters, because he does not have the quickness to recover from a hard close out. HOWEVA, I would have trouble moving quickly to with THE SIZE OF HIS BALLS holy crap did you see that charge he tried to take on LeBron? It probably was a bad call but he was there just late enough that it is a 50/50 call. But that is crazy that he tried. There is a reason most people just foul James when he is on the fast break. Even though he did not get the call, that was freaking awesome. And Ersan just earned all of the respect from me. Like I already liked him but that just put him on another level. It would also be unfair to not mention that he got a key rebound at the end of the game, and was a important part of keeping Tristan Thompson off the offensive glass all night. A good game overall from Ersan, because the good certainly outweighed the bad. But his limitations were there to be seen tonight. Andre Drummond: This guy is unfair. Straight up. Most of the game he looked almost disinterested, and a little out of it. But then you look up and he has a double double at half time. (or was close. I think he had one at half though) Towards the end of the game he turned it on though, catching oops and grabbing boards all over the place. He also actually hit some free throws at the end of the game(!) which was nice to see. He also was largely unbothered by fellow rebounding savant Tristan Thompson. Drummond played good defense for most of the game as well. James was generally attacked him and beat him, but LeBron is an alien. Everyone else largely kept out of the paint outside of a couple Delly/Thompson lobs that were not really his fault. He made the correct reads on defense regularly. It cannot be stressed enough how important he is to this team. He OWNS the paint every single game. Only a literal all time great is able to challenge him there. He is crazy good. And another just monster game. 25 points and 18 boards. Didn't get to 20 boards though, what a scrub./s
Anthony Tolliver: Missed his two shots, which means that he was not super useful off the bench. But he still did his effort thing just fine. He is a complimentary player in the purest sense. He creates literally none of his own offense, but when it is not there he won't force anything. If he does not have an open shot to take he generally stays out of the way. I really like Tolly. You need guys like him on the team, and I hope he can find a long term home here for the twilight of his career. (He has never spent more than 2 seasons on one team and that was just once with Minnesota(!!!!)) Stanley Johnson: Did not play a lot, but did just fine when he was out there. He did a good job of trying to attack the hoop. He got a couple good buckets and a couple nice passes to his big man. (even if the bigs oddly failed to catch those passes for some reason) He also played admirable defense in his time on the floor. Although he, like several other players, will start to worry me if he does not start to hit some of his open jumpers soon.
Spencer Dinwiddie: This game is actually a better indication of why Dinwiddie should be playing instead of Blake. Dinwiddie was not scoring that well, but he still was not visibly hurting the team while he was on the floor. He made a couple nice defensive plays as well, and also can compete with the trees for rebounds when needed. Even though he missed most of his shots (1/6) I hope he keeps up his aggressiveness. Some nights (like tonight) it will not work out, but more often than not, if you are aggressive getting the hoop it will yield good results. One thing to watch is that he has been super confident in taking his jumper, and he only took two jumpers tonight (I think) and he hit one and the other rimmed out. He also hit several against the Lakers. Don't get excited yet because there is still a lot more evidence to suggest he is not a good shooter, but, if he can find a reliable jumper he suddenly becomes way more useful as a player, but I will talk more about that in my season check up for the bench. Even though he did not have awesome numbers, he was perfectly fine tonight.
Aaron Baynes: Played very little, but was just fine in his time. He got Kevin Love on him and hit an easy hook over him on one possession, and that is actually about the only thing of note he did. I do think he might be good enough to justify the contract given him, but it is a little bit bewildering how SVG has used him. Even if he is good enough that he is a really killer backup center, playing him so little means that he won't have much effect on the game regardless. But whatever, it will be hard to judge contracts until we see exactly what the cap ends up being. Until then, he played just fine and is perfectly acceptable as a backup center.
Reggie Bullock: Only played 5 minutes, and did not do much other than miss a layup, oh yeah he also PLAYED AWESOME DEFENSE ON LEBRON JAMES for two possessions. James hit a jumper over him anyways on one of those but wow. Bullock is a lot smaller than James, like he has no right to be able to guard him at all. Props to him, I wish SVG would let Bullock play a little more, he seems to have such a great basketball IQ. Also he has an awesome name and great hair.
General: The ball movement was a bit better in this game, but that is mostly just because Reggie played way better. And while it should be kept in mind that the Cavs are not fully healthy yet, and that LeBron was generally able to score pretty much whenever he wanted and did not appear to ever really turn up, HOWEVA, this game was a good reminder that when both Jackson and Drummond are on their respective games, the Pistons can compete with anyone. I was impressed by their ability to keep the Cavs (mostly Tristan Thompson) from getting anything meaningful on the glass as well. The one downside is that the lack of elite wing defender was front and center for much of the game. Both James and Love were able to Iso and largely get the shot they wanted each time they did. (They both made a couple mistakes that were at least partially caused by the Pistons, but when they didn't screw up by losing the ball somehow, it was pretty clear the Pistons could do little to stop them.) But the Pistons countered with good team defense at the end of the game. Even though they do not have a top tier wing defender (KCP is a perimeter defender, not big enough for a lot of wing guys) they have a ton of length. For all the fuss made about how long the Bucks are, for instance, the Pistons have got to be right there in terms of the number of long armed freaks they throw onto the floor every night. And when they are all tuned in with their heads on swivels, it becomes very hard to do basic basketball plays just because there is not a lot of space. But don't get carried away with other stuff, this was a really good win. The Cavs are not at the height of their powers yet, but the Pistons are not supposed to be good enough to beat them at that level yet, so it is fine to take a win against this version of the Cavs. And it should be noted that even this version of the Cavs is pretty freaking good still. Good team win lead by Jackson and Drummond.
What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!
P.S. As an answer to the couple of people who have said I could stand to have a little better grammar and such. I don't really proof read because it is just a reddit post so I would rather just get it up, HOWEVA, if you see something that is wrong, go right ahead and point it out in the comments. I don't mind at all, it will help me to become a better writer. So go right ahead, I won't call you a grammar Nazi.