Game Recap/Notes: Game #15. Pistons 104 - Heat 84. 8-7
The NBA is weird.
Reggie Jackson: We have a new winner for best game of the season from Jackson. His 18 points and 7 assists are good, but that is not the number. The number is 1. 1 turnover. YAS. Like seriously it was awesome to see him making quick, crisp, accurate passes to shooters with regularity. HOWEVA, it should be noted that his scoring was very much boosted by a bout of being Stephen Curry. (4/5 from deep.) And while he has absolutely been very improved from 3 in his time with the Pistons, Jackson will not hit the 3s he hit tonight very often. But even so, he had a really nice game. It should also be noted that Dragic was almost a total non-factor when Reggie was in the game. He just put in an excellent two way game. And he did it in just 26 minutes, if this game had been more competitive and he played more he could have ended up with an absolutely monster game. One thing though, at the start of the game he had a couple plays where he went for step back jumpers over his defender in the midrange. Um, please do not do that Reggie. Unless it is late in the shot clock and you have to create a shot somehow, the midrange is not your game. Stop. Really good game from Reggie.
KCP: Had a very rough game on offense. 6 points on 15 shots is poor. Especially since 1 point was a technical foul free throw. He did however do his job on defense. I would not be surprised if Wade was having some sort of issue but he was 1/9 from the field. And this was easily my biggest worry coming into the game. Once again, it would not surprise me if it turned out that he was hurt or something, because they pulled him really early and did not put him back in. But he had nothing. So even if he was hurt, it was nice to see that. So I will take KCP struggling on offense for his effort on D. But make no mistake, this was a bit of a rough game for KCP.
Greater Morris: HE HIT SOME 3 POINTERS(!) WOOOOT. He has been crazy cold from deep so far this year, so it was super nice to see him get a couple to fall. He also did his thing in the midrange, even somehow managing to score a couple buckets over Justice Winslow. He also did his usual hard nosed (if not always that good) defense, and also competed on the boards. He didn't have any assists tonight (somehow) but I am still continually impressed by his passing at times. He can really whip passes. Outside of the Bucks game, he has appeared to found his shot back a bit the past few games which is good. Hopefully with a couple 3s tonight he can find his stroke from deep as well. Because if he can go on a stretch here where he is hot the Pistons could well go on a real run.
Ersan Ilyasova: He has been super hot from deep, and it kept up tonight. (3/4 from 3.) And even though he did not hit any field goals inside the arc he did manage to get to the line a couple of times. Including punking Winslow into biting on a pump fake. He was also (surprisingly) not killed by Bosh. Which I'm not sure if that is more due to Bosh or Ersan. Just from the eye test I would put more of it on Bosh just having a weird game (only took 9 shots) but Ersan has to get at least a little credit there. I am not so hot on force feeding him post ups against smaller guys, he has drawn some fouls on them, but I'm not sure he has actually scored a basket out of one of those yet. But I do like that they are trying to have him hurt teams for switching little guys on him. because if he can with some consistency hurt teams when they do that it makes him much harder to guard.
ANDRE-MUTHA-FUKIN-DRUMMOND: The stat line of 18 points (on 18 shots) and 20 boards may not stand out for Drummond much anymore. And the 18 shots is indicative of that he had a couple of bad possessions. But Hassan Whiteside is legitimately one of the best young bigs in the game right now, and Drummond freaking killed him. He tried to do a little to much a few times and got swatted, hard, by Whiteside, but Drummond was easily better. And he did it in both the post, and the boards. Whiteside is a monster, but Drummond is Berserk. (if anyone actually gets that reference we are now friends btw) It also appeared that Drummond is no longer sick. Although it would be unfair to not say that Whiteside was allegedly sick with something or other tonight. But just like sickness is not really an excuse for Drummond the past couple nights, because when you are the guy you don't get days off, If Whiteside is on the floor, he is on the floor. I especially loved the play where Drummond faced up Whiteside, and basically said "lulz I'm way bigger and stronger than you" and just drove right into Whiteside's chest and got an "and 1". (should be noted that that play should absolutely be an offensive foul but no NBA refs call it. But it is still baffling to me sometimes how the NBA enforces its own rules in some cases.) And quick side rant here. Holy crap I would be so frustrated if I was a Heat fan. Whiteside showed that he has the length and athleticism to absolutely compete with Drummond, but he was constantly caught out of position for boards, and in the post. This is not even really about the post play, or that Drummond got so many boards. Drummond is a lot bigger, you can excuse that. But it seemed like Whiteside kept thinking that he could just not box Andre out and steal rebounds anyways, which like, no. That will not work. I mean Whiteside is really good so I would not be too bummed, but I am glad I don't have to count on him as a theoretical player of the future. I was getting frustrated and I was rooting for the other team lol. Like think how frustrating it is to watch Drummond go to the free throw line and it's like "OMG YOU'RE AN NBA PLAYER HIT A FREE THROW" Except it is like that on every rebound. Thats how I felt. But then again, Whiteside is such a freak that he can get away with that most of the time. So whatever, rant over. Andre is really good.
TOLLY(!!!): Credit to Kelser here, he said in the closing moments of garbage time against the Bucks that the shots Tolly managed to hit might be good and get him going. And boy did he. 4/6 from 3 is a pretty solid night for a backup. But seriously, that was huge. His struggles from deep have been a big part of the bench issues. And it is not just his poor shooting, its that the poor shooting had lead him to being a bit gun shy. Particularly when he is with bench guys, he needs to channel his inner JR Smith and lay the freaking pipe. Hopefully he is out of his funk now, which would be huge. When his shot is falling he is a gunner who has awesome energy and can be slotted into literally any lineup and be useful. Nice to see you back Tolly.
The Eternal Fountain Of Sadness Formerly Known As Steve Blake: Holy crap. I hate to rag a ton on guys because these are all NBA players, like they are crazy good at basketball. But Steve Blake has literally no NBA skill. It is not a coincidence that Dragic was a non-factor most of the game, but when Blake came in he suddenly started looking like a max contract man. (Which btw, really heads up coaching by Spo to put Dragic back in so quick when Blake came in the game.) He threw a bunch of stupid passes, and even once dribbled the ball out of bounds when trying to call a freaking timeout. Blake literally has nothing left in the tank. I hate to say this, because everything I have seen (outside of a bunch of people on /r/nbaclaiming Blake shat in their yards or something lol) is that he is an awesome locker room guy who everyone loves. But you can't afford to have a guy on the roster who literally cannot play NBA level basketball. Especially with Jennings slotted to be back in a month(!) Blake is awful. And that sucks, because he seems like an awesome dude, but he still is a horrible NBA player. Like it is literally almost comical how bad he is at this point.
Stanley Johnson: Outside of like 3 plays, this was a really ugly game for him. He fouled a bunch, missed shots, (including air balling a midranger.) and was just generally bad. HOWEVA, he did seem to go for the whole "get to the rim or die trying" thing which is good. Even though he did in fact die trying several times, there will be nights where he succeeds more than he does not. Even though he was not good tonight, I want this version of Stanley every night. But man, gotta hit some 3s dude. Anyways, he did a couple good things, including a awesome block and had a couple nice drives. But he also had a bunch of bad ones. But I digress, rookies will rookie. I liked his aggressiveness.
Aron Baynes: I am really starting to love his offensive skillset and really starting to want to see him try and play alongside Andre, because even though that pairing might go horribly, horribly wrong. I would like to see Baynes get a few more minutes, and also what he could do against some PFs. He did however get a little bit lucky on defense. For a good stretch (I don't think all his time on the floor but most of it) Josh McRoberts was slotted at center against Baynes, and McBob got a few open 3s, and just missed a couple. But FWIW Baynes was closing hard and they were not crazy wide open. Just normal open. But anyways, Baynes had some really nice plays on offense. And I would like to see what he could do in some specific situations. So like if going against a team that plays a stretch 4 who is not an awesome shooter. (which if you include the benches there are plenty of them in the league, Tolly would even fall into the upper range of this) Because, in theory, Baynes can give enough effort to avoid letting said stretch 4 kill the Pistons with super wide open 3s (once again, just "normal" open) and then turn around and have two guys who would be instant double teams in the post. (Drummond is generally an instant double no matter what) And that could have some potential. Although then again maybe Baynes would be way to slow for any sort of perimeter play and the spacing would be so bad that it would not matter that Baynes and Drummond were drawing double teams. But I would still like to see it tried.
Anthony, Bullock, Hilliard: Only played garbage time so I'm going to throw them together here. Anthony did his "I'm super bouncy" thing. Bullock made a nice pass or 2, and Hilliard actually hit a couple shots(!) which, even if it was against the opposing scrubs, was nice to see. Once again, it might mean nothing, but it also might mean something. Sometimes for shooters just seeing the ball go through the hoop a few times can help.
General: Basketball is weird. The Pistons get blown out by a Bucks team that is really struggling, then turn around and kill a Heat team that was on a roll. Part of that is obviously that the Pistons shot really well from deep. Which, quite frankly, was bound to happen sooner or later. The Pistons were literally the worst 3 point shooting team in basketball coming into this game (by percentage) and they have far too many good shooters for that. But I admit, I was starting to get a bit nervous. The ball movement was super crisp, and Reggie in particular was really passing well. But the ball movement will probably be overstated in this one. Mostly the shots just fell tonight. Although it was weird from the Heat's part. They got a total of 11 points from their top 2 scorers. And both Wade and Bosh only took 9 shots. And while the Pistons get some credit there, that is not all the Pistons. Also, even though there were a lot of other things happening, don't underestimate how bad Gerald Green is on defense, and when you consider that Green replaced Deng (who is a good defender) there is a HUGE drop-off there. HOWEVA, the reality is that the Pistons could go on a roll. The law of averages says that after starting off the season super cold, the Pistons are due for a hot streak from outside. And if they shoot like this (which, tonight was above average, but not so crazy that it will never happen again like say what the Pacers did a couple nights ago) they should be close to unbeatable. But maybe that is wishful thinking. I think that SVG put it best though, nights where you get blown out are unavoidable, but they don't have to be acceptable. This is the correct way to approach it. And the Pistons came out with a fire and took an early lead and never looked back. Awesome win for the team.
What do you think? Think the Pistons can go on a hot streak? Did you get stressed for Heat fans watching Hassan Whiteside? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!
Edit: According to twitter, the reffing was awful and SVG was not pleased. I didn't think the refs were good but I was having to much fun to notice. Link