Game Recap/Notes: Game #14. Pistons 95 - Bucks 99. (10-4)
In the grand scheme of things this isn't all that bad. The Pistons are still off to a great start and they lost a very close game against a pretty good team and they were in it right to the very end. Despite that, this one still hurt.
Didn't do a whole lot on either end of the floor. 6 points on 8 equivalents with 2 assists in just 22 minutes. SVG stuck with Ish Smith after the bench got the Pistons back into the game so he played limited minutes. Really not a whole lot to say about the game for him, he just didn't have much impact on either end, good or bad.
The full Avery Bradley offensive experience was on display in this game. He finished with 28 points on 21 equivalents, 5 assists and 5 turnovers, and ooo boy those were not the harmless kind of turnovers. They were bad, dumb, awful turnovers that shouldn't be happening. The real killer for this game though is that the Bucks are not a good matchup for Bradley on the other end, as their absurd length means that he is a bit mitigated as a defender since there isn't a guy his size that he can just hound the entire night. Look, this was still a good game for Bradley and he continues to be an absolute blessing for this team on both ends of the floor, but it is tough to watch him with some of those turnovers.
Also in that same vein of “Remember that I love this guy and am thrilled he is on the team but...”, after tonight he is going to be pretty close to leading the team in FGA per game, and I would guess (I'm not going to do the math on my own, we will see when the numbers update) that he has overtaken Jackson for the team lead in usage percentage after this game. Once again, Bradley is a good player, but that isn't good. Get Tobias Harris the ball more, and let Reggie run the offense more. Bradley should be a clear 3rd place in the offensive pecking order, and in recent games he has been pretty close to 1st and that isn't where he should be. Still a good game for Bradley though.
Returning from injury and I'm guessing still not all the way healthy as he played just 18 minutes. I'm guessing he wasn't all the way healthy because he looked very good when he was out there so I don't think they played him sparingly due to poor play. He did a great job on Giannis and was his usual super active self, but didn't have a huge impact on offense due to the low minutes.
The Bucks are a hard matchup for Tobias, they have long defenders and make you beat them with passing which is obviously a problem for Tobias, but he should've gotten more shots up and whether it was SVG or the point guards or whatever who was responsible, Harris cannot get just 12 shot equivalents in a game where the offense really struggles for long stretches. This seemed like the game where down the stretch you would want to lean heavily on your best two offensive players and they apparently had no interest (more on this later). For his part though Tobias was fine, he was efficient with 13 shots on those 12 equivalents and had a few nice passes and even had a couple decent defensive plays.
5-8 at the line is definitely an automatic qualifier for the honors, you know the rules.
Beyond his night at the line, Drummond played a very solid game, he finished with 13 points on 13 equivalents with 17 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal. I also give him some real credit for shutting up and playing in the second half of the game, because he absolutely had beef with the refs down low. Remember last game against the Bucks Andre shot 16 free throws and also had a bunch of fouls that were on the floor, it makes sense because the Bucks have no one who can body him up so they have no choice but to foul him, and they didn't play him any different tonight. It is kind of crazy to say because the Bucks got called for a ton of fouls, but the Bucks should've ran out of big men sometime in the 3rd quarter I think. Regardless, he got a little bit of an early hook in the 1st quarter to get him calmed down after he was clearly frustrated by the lack of calls but after that there was no complaining really at all from him and he put up a monster 3rd quarter and made a couple really nice plays in the clutch, I just wish he had been on the floor more than 29 minutes.
Playing 31 minutes, likely do to Stanley Johnson being on a minutes restriction, and he had a ver nice game. 9 points on 8 shots with 3 rebounds, a block, and a steal in 31 minutes doesn't really do it justice. He did a very respectable job defending Giannis and hit some big time shots in this game, dude continues to cruise as an awesome and important bench piece for the team and his shot appears to have started to come around.
Welp, it was bound to happen at some point. Smith, who has been playing awesome this year, especially scoring the ball, had a dud tonight. 4 points on 10 shots with 4 assists and 4 turnovers. He was on the floor when the Pistons made their initial comeback but it had very little to do with him and a great deal to do with Kennard, Tolliver, and Galloway YOLOing it up from deep. Smith was not very good tonight, and that is honestly ok even though it stinks to know that if he had been able to keep hot for one more night the Pistons probably win. It is ok because he still is having a career year and the Bucks are a really hard matchup for him given his small size.
Played too long but that isn't his fault. His stat-line isn't overly impressive with 0 points on 3 shots, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks in 19 minutes, but this was his kind of game. This was an ugly, frantic, dangerous game. And Moreland plays with an ugly, frantic, and dangerous energy at all times he is on the court and he had a nice night.
One side note on Moreland, if you are a younger kid who is thinking of trying a new sport or maybe you are an older person who has a kid who will be trying a new sport, do like Eric Moreland. Go full speed at all times. If you make mistakes make sure they are at full speed, because that is always something that will be worth something to have someone one the court/field/whatever who is going 200% at all times.
9 points on 11 equivalents with a couple of assists in 15 minutes isn't very good, but he had a rough first half. In the second half though, he scored 9 straight points totally by himself to open up the Piston comeback so that was fun. He honestly didn't do a whole lot other than that, he missed some floaters and a couple of threes after the 9 straight points, but those buckets were so big that he still had a good go of it.
Color me surprised. I assumed that we only saw Kennard against the Heat due to Miami's tendency to go with small, three guard lineups so SVG was comfortable playing Kennard at the 3. The Bucks on the other hand, generally have point guards on the floor bigger than what Miami often puts at small forward, and yet here was Luke Kennard getting the backup small forward minutes and boy did he make the most of it. He had 11 points on 7 shots in 15 minutes, and for the first time on an NBA court he really made good on the threat of his deep ball, going 3 for 4 on some shots that he would've been fully within his rights to do the Sam Cassell big balls dance afterwards. He even made a few nice defensive plays on rotations! (if this is surprising to you then you should probably read the bit I did on his game against the Heat.) This was an excellent game from Kennard and a huge show of faith from SVG that he played him against a team like the Bucks.
On a side note, it is kind of too bad that Kennard didn't get drafted by another team. Like, could you imagine if he had been drafted by the Bulls? With his combination of offensive skill and brashness how many shots per game would he be getting up? 15? 20? It would be ugly a lot of the time, but I bet he would drop 30 several times.
Ok, I respect Stan Van Gundy immensely as a coach and there is nothing that is going to convince me that he is anything other than an excellent basketball coach. HOWEVA, tonight was a bad night for him other than letting Kennard see the floor in a way that is clearly out of his comfort zone. Ish Smith played the entire 4th quarter, and Eric Moreland nearly did as well. Here is the thing, I get that the backups got the Pistons back in the game, but that was mostly against the Buck's backups and it isn't like Jackson or especially Drummond were having bad games. Jackson hadn't been all that good but he has regularly been quiet until the end of games this year and Drummond already had a double double when he left the game in the 3rd quarter! He also held Tobias Harris out until late in the 4th quarter as well. The Bucks were playing the sort of maniacal defensive game that shows just why there are people drooling over the potential for this unit of long armed athletes, and that is exactly the sort of game where you cut out all of the fancy crap and have your best players get you some freaking buckets, and instead Stan left his best players on the bench. I honestly think that if Stan had gone back to the starters at a reasonable moment the Pistons would've won this game and it was so predictable that Avery Bradley would end up with a terrible turnover to seal the game. Give me Reggie Jackson or Tobias Harris with the ball in crunch time over Bradley every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Beyond all of that however, remember that the Bucks are a pretty good team that may end up being very good and the Pistons are still off to a great start and this game was super close. No reason to have any heads hanging too far after this one.
What do you think? Would you have gone back to the starters? How many points per game would Kennard average on the Bulls?