Game Recap/Notes: Pistons 115 - Warriors 107. (5-2. #1 in East)
Sorry about this being late. I had a terrible headache last night and a test this morning so I went to bed early. Anyways though, what a great win to add on to a now impressive opening to the season for the Pistons!
Jackson played an excellent game and it showed in the numbers, he finished the game with a season high 22 points on just 14 equivalents with 3 rebounds and 5 assists (against 2 turnovers) and did a lot of that work in a stretch in the 2nd quarter where it was all him. I'm not totally sure how I feel about the lineup of Jackson/Galloway/Bullock/Tolliver/Leuer because that is pretty much a lineup where you give the ball to Reggie and hope he does something, but it worked out in this one.
He also did a decent job defensively as he spent most of his night covering Klay Thompson, who despite having a very good game I felt like Reggie did a decent job of keeping him from getting too open with regularity which is a very tough guard for him. Once again, he doesn't need to be the defensive terror that his backcourt mate is, he just needs to be alright, and he was tonight.
I'm still looking for him to get to the hoop more, but he continues to knife into the paint almost at will, and for really the first time this year he started to really go at people with his jump shot and he actually got it to fall. And on that note, Jackson started off the season looking right but missing too many shots which was hurting his scoring efficiency. As of this morning Jackson is now sporting a very nice true shooting percentage of 54.6% and his long ball is creeping upwards after a terrible start as well.
I'm going to get the one small complain out of the way immediately. I was a wee bit disappointing at times with his defense of Steph Curry. I want to emphasis that it was only a little bit, but there were like four or five possessions where Bradley got picked off and Curry got very clean looks that just can't really happen. I get that sticking with Curry around all the screens is a very tough thing to do, but Bradley is held to a pretty high defensive standard.
HOWEVA, other than those few possessions Avery Bradley was absolutely brilliant. His jumper was on target and he also got the memo to turn more of the long twos into threes on his way to 23 points on just 14 equivalents with a pair of assists in 36 minutes. And then of course on the other end of the court he harassed Curry for most of the night and finished the night with three steals including a steal and breakaway layup that essentially sealed the game. Once again, I think he gave up a few too many easy looks, but he was mostly very good and this was almost certainly his best offensive game of the season.
Here is a fun and also very good thing for the Pistons. Since his opening night goose egg Stanley Johnson is shooting 48.8% from the field and 38.1% from three for a true shooting percentage of 61.2%, good for second on the team in that span. He kept up the solid offensive performance with 15 points on 13 shots with 3 assists in 41(!!!!) minutes of play on the night, and he backed it up with excellent defense on the other end which rewarded him with 3 steals. Stanley had his defensive versatility on full display as he spent most of the game guarding Kevin Durant, and also some stretches on both Steph Curry and David West. Dude can legit switch across all positions.
As for his defense on Kevin Durant, I actually thought he did a really good job despite Durant's excellent game. A lot of Durant's damage happened when he got switches onto other guys (including a few on poor damn Andre Drummond at the end of the game) and even when Durant got Stanley it was mostly just shooting over him. His height is really the thing that sets Durant apart, and whenever he goes against Stanley he will be able to shoot over him, but much like Andre against Karl-Anthony Towns the other night, if he keeps him out of the paint you live with him hitting some jumpers. Excellent game from Stanley who is shaping up to be exactly the player the Pistons need him to be this year.
Another rough game for Tobias, but unlike the last two rough ones for him, he was able to redeem himself to an extend by getting some huge buckets at the end of the game. He finished the night with 16 points on 19 equivalents with 4 rebounds and a pair of assists in 31 minutes, but he started out the game miserably from the field. Draymond Green gave him all kinds of problems and forced him into terrible runners that never really had a chance to go, and Tobias was just fully struggling to get anything going at all. Down the stretch however he got several huge buckets, including a full on F-U three pointer in Kevin Durant's grill. Not a great game for Tobias, but he saved it from being a terrible one.
One last note to put in the “Early season trends worth watching” is that Tobias continues to can three pointers at high volume and efficiency as he is still shooting 46.3% on 5.9 attempts per game.
I'm not totally sure how I feel about this overall game from Drummond. On one hand, he scored just 8 points on 17 shots (barf) and a lot of them were bad shots where he took hooks/floaters instead of bullying to the basket, and the Warriors actually got a few more rebounds than I would've liked them too with him on the floor. On the other hand, he finished the game with with 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and was the only starter to go positive with a +1 in 41 minutes on the night. He remains a problem for opposing offenses with his swiping hands and he joined in with his teammates to cause a ton of Warriors turnovers and he also got more active on the offensive end in the second half and started to really make himself felt on both ends of the floor. I really hate that he went back to trying to finesse his way to baskets, but other than that it was a very good game for Drummond. And despite the fact that he got absolutely cooked by Durant a couple of times, his ability to switch onto perimeter guys was absolutely key to the Pistons holding onto this game.
Ish Smith put forth a very odd game in which he scored 16 points on just 9 equivalents with just 2 assists and no turnovers. Most of the time he would put up a line like that I would be dissapointed because even though he happened to hit some shots he needs to pass more, but I honestly felt like he took the right shots and made the right passes. Like in the end his excellent shooting was largely a result of him getting to the right places on the floor and taking the right shots, and less that he happened to hit a bunch of mid-range jumpers. Regardless he had an excellent game as he and the bench mob largely led the way in this one.
How much did the Pistons miss this dude last year? He finished the night with 7 points on 5 equivalents, 3 rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 17 minutes and went +21. His activity on both ends of the floor was excellent, and he made a couple plays off the dribble which was something he added to his game last year. It sucks that it is pushing Ellenson out of the rotation, but it is hard to complain when Tolly is playing so well. The thing that really stands out to me is that he was such a clearly positive force on the court despite going 0-2 from deep.
He joined Tolly in going 0-2 from deep but still having a really positive effect on the game. He had 4 points on as many shots with 2 assists and 3 steals and a monstrous +26 in 14 minutes. His movement and smarts on offense just makes you a lot better, and especially when his three pointers start to fall like we know they can he is an absolute weapon on that end, combine that with great effort and heads up defense and he is an excellent wing to have off the bench.
Only played 7 minutes as Andre got big minutes, but he did fine. 4 points on as many shots and 4 rebounds. Didn't have a whole lot of impact either way.
With Johnson and Bradley getting big minutes Galloway was left to just 5 tonight, and he didn't record a stat other than missing a pair of threes. Really didn't do much.
A lot of people (especially the Warriors announcers) made/have made a big deal about how the Warriors blew this by being sloppy and that it was more that they lost the game than the Pistons won it, but I actually don't think that was so much the case. The Warriors achilles heel has been turnovers for years now, even going back to the Mark Jackson era, and the Pistons feature one of the (if not just the) handsiest centers in basketball, a pair of ferocious defenders in Bradley and Johnson, and even Jackson and Harris have length and athleticism. The Warriors are prone to turning the ball over too much, and the Pistons are prone to creating a lot of turnovers (while not turning it over themselves) and that is essentially what happened in this game. Obviously the Warriors didn't help themselves in this game, and I'm not suggesting that the Pistons could realistically compete with the Warriors if they were all the way locked in, but as far as a regular season goes this honestly wasn't much of an outlier there, the Pistons outplayed the Warriors and were the better team, even if just for one night.
Also worth noting, people are starting to slowly take notice of this team. There was a lot of hype around them heading into last year before Reggie's knees derailed the season, and they are starting to now look like the team they were supposed to be last year. There is a lot of basketball yet to be played of course, but this is about as good a start to the season as you could hope for.
What do you think? Did Andre have a good or bad game? How about the long arms?