Game Recap/Notes: Preseason game #4. Pistons 94 - Raptors 116. (2-2)
A bit of a rough game, but it is preseason and these things happen. In the end most guys looked bad, with a few exceptions in between, it is a good sign that they let Reggie play a little bit on the back to back.
Only played 20 minutes on the back to back, but that is a good sign overall. Initially they were not sure he was going to play more than like 10 minutes in the previous game, and he ended up playing over 20, and they let him play on the second night too, so that is a good sign that he is feeling good. As far as his actual play goes, he didn't have a very good game statistically but I actually am still very encouraged by his play. Some people made a big deal of the -29 in just 20 minutes, which is pretty remarkably bad, but I really wouldn't take too much of that. He played with some goofy lineups (in the 4th quarter he took the floor with Galloway/Bullock/Ellenson/Leuer and they got beat to crap pretty bad) and he generally actually looked ok. I thought Drummond was, by far, the worst Piston (more on him later of course) and he ended up with just a -3.
Regardless, Jackson finished with just 6 points on 8 shots, with 2 assists against 2 turnovers, 1 rebound, and 1 steal which is a bad stat line when combined with the -29. HOWEVA, if you were to swap him exactly with Ish tonight, in terms of how they played, it would've been worse for him. Despite missing some shots, Jackson once again was in the paint consistently and only puled up for 1 jumper, and he even made a few nice defensive plays and looked visibly less fatigued in this game. Especially in the preseason, I would rather see Reggie getting into the paint and just missing some shots due to rust than pulling up for lots of jumpers and happening to hit them. It should also be noted that he should've had at least a couple more assists if other guys had finished some plays. (Especially Drummond)
Kennard remains utterly unremarkable in preseason. He had a rougher night in this one with just 2 points on 6 shots with 2 assists, and he also looked a bit out of place on defense for the first time as he racked up 4 fouls in just 19 minutes. That unremarkable still isn't all bad as he isn't making terrible mistakes with regularity like Ellenson is, but I would like to see a little bit more. The biggest complaint I have with him is that he hasn't been trigger happy enough from 3, being too willing to pump fake closing out defenders and take a dribble in for a long 2. TAKE THE 3.
For the first time this preseason, Johnson didn't look awesome but he still did fine. 6 points on 7 shots (2-4 from deep) with 5 rebounds and a really nice assist to Andre Drummond with 2 turnovers in 24 minutes. He just didn't seem to have the same defensive impact he has had in the other games, and he didn't touch the ball as much on offense I felt. Regardless, he wasn't bad, and it is super encouraging to see him hitting some 3s (especially from the corners) but not much to take away from this game.
Harris remains the guy I am worried the least about this preseason, but he had a rough go of it tonight. Just 9 points on 10 equivalents in 25 minutes, with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. He struggled to get going offensively against Serge Ibaka, and Ibaka got open for several 3s against Tobias. Much like Stanley, I'm not worried about it at all, but it wasn't a good night for Tobias.
These are the rules. Drummond went 6 of 6 at the free throw line, and all season if he shots over 50% he is getting the honors, and the reality is that right now I don't care much about the other problems because it is preseason. He almost certainly won't shoot 80% from the line, but he is almost certainly going to be significantly improved.
HOWEVA, other than the free throws, this was one of the most bizarrely terrible games I've seen Andre play. He finished with 14 points on 13 equivalents, with 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in 38(!!!) minutes. Which is a fine line, if a bit low on points and rebounds for his high minutes total, but he really was terrible defensively. And the thing is that it was in a really weird way, like it wasn't just that he was slow on some rotations or made some mental mistakes or bit on too many pump fakes. (tho that did happen.) He just made some totally dumbfounding decisions about doubling guys at stupid times and just not boxing dudes out occasionally. For now I'm going to assume that he is out of it after being sick the last few days and we can forget this happened, but he was TERRIBLE on defense. Even on offense, he just seemed totally off. Not just in a energy way, but he failed to hold onto some passes that were not hard catches and didn't really even stick around for any of his screens. Reggie missed like 2 or 3 assists because Andre just couldn't come down with alley oop passes. As long as that all proves to be an anomaly though, ANDRE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO HIT FREE THROWS AND THAT'S ALL I REALLY CARE ABOUT RIGHT NOW.
Galloway had a decent game, and played a lot of minutes, 16 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 29 minutes of play. He got his 16 points on 17 equivalents, and generally tried to go inside more than I would like to see him do, but he was still very willing to fire away from deep which is still nice to see from someone on this roster. He looked fine, and he should be a solid piece on the team this year.
His jumper was falling on his way to 22 points on 15 equivalents with 8 assists against 1 turnover and the only guy on the team to go positive with a +7. But in the end, the scoring really was just a result of him happening to hit his jump shots, which does occasionally happen with him. Don't read too much into it beyond that, he also got the benefit of the Raptors playing their end of bench guys to close out the game.
Regardless though, he joins Tobias as someone who I am utterly unworried or interested in this preseason, we know what he is and what he is capable of, and I have absolute confidence in him to play up to the level the Pistons expect/need of him and this game only further cemented that.
Bit of a rough go for Bullock who missed both his 3 point shots on his way to 4 points on 6 shots with 3 rebounds and a steal in 23 minutes. He didn't have the ball find him as much as it often does when he is on the floor, but he looked fine other than that. He is somewhat like Tolly where on a game to game basis his contributions will fluctuate quite a bit with whether he hits his 3s or not.
I think it is official, Ellenson is not ready for any significant playing time when the season starts. He still shows a great offensive skill set that can be used in certain situations, but his defense is miserable to the point that it basically breaks the entire team on that end. He finished this one with 9 points on 5 shots with 2 rebounds and an assist.
I don't think it was really his fault, but he joined Jackson in a horrible plus minus finish with -22 in just 14 minutes. In the end though, 6 points on 5 shots, and 3 rebounds while playing all his minutes at center is fine. I like him getting some minutes there.
The Pistons only took 17 3 pointers which is a problem, the Raptors shot really well. It should also be noted that the Raptors didn't really go on any huge run, they just sort of continually built a lead and kept it going. In the end I'm not worried about the final score. Jackson continues to be encouraging with how much time he is spending in the paint, Andre is hitting his free throws, and Stanley is hitting enough shots to survive on offense. Those were the 3 biggest question marks heading into preseason and they are all looking good so far, so I'm coming away with a good vibe still.