Game Recap/Notes: Game #4. Pistons 82 - Pacers 94. 3-1
Ugh. Warning, some adult language here. I usually try not to swear but I gotta vent a little after this one.
Reggie Jackson: This is starting to become a pattern, pretty solid scoring and D. But way to many turnovers. And it should be stressed that he really did score pretty well, he took what the D was giving him (which was a free trip to the hoop a lot of the time because they were shading Andre) and he generally capitalized. And he regularly ended up stuck guarding Paul George and actually did a really good job when he really has no right too when the size difference is considered. It should also be reminded that the Pacers are a good defensive team and George Hill and Paul George are legitimately long armed menaces of the passing lanes. So if Jackson had not had turnover issues thru the first 3 games it would be easy to dismiss this game as just a result of having an off night against the wrong team. But it has been an issue, and it was again tonight. Reggie was far from a problem tonight though. Particularly his defense was often stellar. But he has got to start to cut down on the turnovers.
KCP: I will start with the obvious. Holy crap that one move and dunk was spectacular. There is no other way to put it. He split a double team and slammed it home. Wow. He salvaged his night in the 4th, but he was not very good the rest of the game. HOWEVA thats the reason they play 4 quarters. He upped his defensive intensity in the 4th and also got a little more aggressive on offense. One brilliant play aside, his dribble-drive game is sloppy/awkward to be kind. However it has shown signs of success. Even though it also fails, sometimes spectacularly. But he has shown enough of an ability to put it on the floor that I no longer panic whenever he does so. Which is an improvement. Still did not shoot very well overall tonight though. Including 0-3 from deep. But he will start to hit some shots again, at which time his new found dribble game will be even more of a weapon. While it may not be the huge leaps and bounds that we maybe would have liked to see, he clearly has made small improvements, which is nice.
Marcus Morris: In some ways this game was almost as encouraging as the last one. he did not shoot as much and did not get a lot of Iso because he was guarded by Paul George almost all night, and the Pacers were not going to allow a switch of anyone else onto Morris. He did not shoot overly well but he played the hell out of defense and on the boards. He will have nights where he has a good matchup he can be a big part of the offense, but a big thing for him this year is going to be having a positive impact even on the nights where he is not a major part of the offense. This was a good sign of that. Also, from my eyes at least, he was the first guy to start to really fight for it all game and sparked the failed comeback bid at the end of the game. Dude plays with a huge chip on his shoulder, and wants to win every possession, even if the game is mostly out of reach. I like that kind of fight. He was not spectacular tonight, but he made some big defensive plays by blocking a couple of shots, and really fought on the boards when Andre had a bout of sluggishness in the 3rd quarter. Dare I say he looks like a real leader.
Ersan Ilyasova: Played a fine game, did his thing. He took some shots, hit enough of them, drew yet another charge(!) and hustled on both D and for rebounds. IT was good to see that he did not have anything on his wrist and he shot well again. I was a little concerned he might have a lingering wrist injury, but that is clearly not the case.
Andre-MUTHER-FUCKIN-Drummond: In what was really all too predictable given the lack of size that the Pacers have, Drummond dominated the paint to a monstrous game of 25 points and 29(!!!!!!!!!) rebounds. In a bit of irony though, the Pacers lack of big men took their offense outside. The Pacers got very little penetration into the paint and when they got there Drummond often stonewalled them. But their lack of inside presence may have resulted in Drummond's crazy numbers, but it also minimized his defensive impact (even if it was still big). Regardless, it was a shame to see such an excellent performance go to waste in a loss. But still good to see him dominate fools. Once again I think he was the best player on the floor. And if that keeps happening then the Pistons could make some real noise this season. (P.S. Should be noted that for all his brilliance, he was not immune to the turnover bug with 4 of them.
Ugh. The bench. Ugh. Remember just a couple days ago when I said that I did not think the bench would be a huge issue? Yeah no. The bench is a huge issue.
Anthony Tolliver: Both the shots he took were hard ones, but he missed them. For all his effort, if he does not can a couple of shots, he does not bring a ton to the floor. But once again, he only took 2 pretty hard shots. But right now, he is the last bench guy I am worried about, there is a whole season of evidence (and the first couple games of the season) that say he is a decent bench piece. Some nights he will hit some shots and be a really positive player, sometimes he will miss and be not very good. Such is life, he is a bench guy thats fine.
Stanley Johnson: For the first time this year he truly looked like a rookie. It was not simply some rookie mistakes. He was legit bad tonight. He struggled on offense in all facets, and did not make particularly good decisions, and also struggled a bit on D. None of this should send anyone in a panic, these things are what rookies do. Particularly when matched up with Paul George. Just hopefully he is not THIS bad very often.
Do I have to do Steve Blake? I do don't I? crap.
Steve Blake: Holy crap, he is broken. It was not all on him of course, but it is literally an accomplishment to go -20 in 7 minutes. Like holy crap. That is awful. His D actually perked up a bit which is to say there were 2 possessions on which he did not look totally overmatched. And I am worried about his shot. Even though he has a long career of being a good shooter to fall back on, he is 36. That is old enough that you can't really take anything for granted. It would be foolish to assume that he will just start hitting shots. Blake was benched for Dinwiddie in the 2nd half. #DinwiddieFreed
Spencer Dinwiddie: Played 7 minutes, and had a +/- of 0. Should be noted that his minutes where not with a full on bench mob like Blake, and also that there was not a ton that Spencer did that made me think he played way better than Blake. EXCEPT THAT HE ACTUALLY SCORED A FUCKING POINT HOLY FUCK. sorry. This game was frustrating to me. Actually though. Even if he is not very good, Blake has been awful so far. Let Dinwiddie get some run, even though he missed both free throws he did draw a foul. (remember to keep watching that with him) Blake has played so bad that he is probably actually hurting the team when he is on the court, so Dinwiddie will have a chance to show he can play. Unless he stinks it up just a bad (doubtful) he may well end up being the backup point guard until #thereturn. And if he is just as bad, then it is going to be a long month.
Aaron Baynes: You thought that Blake's +/- was impressive? Consider this, Baynes also posted a -20, in just 5(!) minutes of playing time. Like Blake, this was not all on him by any stretch. But he sure as hell did not help anything. He was bad on both ends in his 5 minutes. Which is remarkable. When a guy plays 5 minutes usually the only thing you can say is "Did nothing of note." But nope, there was something of note, and that something was making Naismith freaking come back from the dead just so he could kill himself.
Reggie Bullock: Uh Oh. He did not catch Blake or Baynes, however Bullock still posted an impressive -16 in just 4 minutes. He shot the ball twice and did not hit the FUCKING RIM on either one. I mean, I get that he might have some jitters, and this is the first time he will be getting consistent minutes. But he is going into his 3rd year. Same amount of time KCP has been around. And he has played some. You can't be on the team as a shooter and then straight up miss the rim on two straight shots. He got pulled quickly and KCP played 42 minutes. Bullock will (hopefully) get a chance to redeem himself, but after laying duds in his first two games in the rotation, he will need to do something a little positive on the court soon. Although FWIW his defense was not glaringly bad. (which can't be said for the rest of the bench) However, right now he is a perfect example of why preseason does not matter even remotely. However we better pray he finds his game, because after him is Darrun Hilliard, and there is no one after that. So Bullock has got to find something. Please find some thing Reggie.
General: The Pistons starting lineup was better than the Pacers, but that stretch of bench mobs killed the Pistons. One clever move by Frank Vogel was to leave George hill on the floor for the bench mob, where he was easily the best player on the floor for that period and was a hug reason for the domination that commenced. One nice thing was that Dinwiddie got to play. I am fully behind this. However the bench might be painful for the next month, and probably even beyond. Because even though the Bench scored literally 2 points and those were on a nice Spencer Dinwiddie drive to the hoop, the bigger issue (so far this season at least) has been that they cannot freaking guard anyone. And no matter how good Jennings looks when he comes back, he will not be fixing a lot on D. Right now it has been a bad combo. Steve Blake is totally unable to stay in front of anyone, and Baynes is not a good enough rim protector to cover effectively for that. And both Johnson and Bullock are babies on D and don't always make crisp rotations. Assuming Dinwiddie gets Blake's minutes now will help with that. And perhaps it will have a bigger impact than conventinal wisdom would show (point guards don't usually have a huge impact either way on D, but Blake may have been so freakishly bad that Dinwiddie playing for him might make a real difference. Like playing literally anyone over Enes Kanter for instance.) Dinwiddie may not be as crafty with setting up teammates but on nights like tonight where Johnson is so clearly off, Dinwiddie might be the best scoring option off the bench till #thereturn, which is a scary thought. I think tomorrow I will go into more depth to look at the bench in a separate post though. Right now, pray that one of these bench guys has an epiphany and finds some game on either end of the court to make a real difference. Because KCP and Andre are young, but you don'twant to ride them for 40+ minutes a night. For now though, take solace in that Andre Drummond is here to take the NBA by storm, so even if the bench freaking sucks, Andre Drummond does not suck. And he will be a blast to watch all year. (side note, this is another reason the bench looks so bad, Andre Drummond is far and away the best player on this team. When he is off the floor the team is not nearly as good. SVG might want to consider staggering the minutes of the starters a little more though. But I'll look into that more tomorrow.)
What did you think of the game? Is Steve Blake actually a corpse that SVG has been throwing out there? Will someone come up big from the bench? ANDRE DRUMMOND. If you think I'm stupid let me know! We all get smarter!