Game Recap/Notes: Game #3. Pistons 133 - Sixers 132. (3-0)
Well that was something lol.
Jackson continues to be a real positive early in the season. Other than the buffoonery at the end of the Nets game, Jackson is looking comfortable in his role on offense and executing well. He finished this game playing 39 minutes, scoring 23 points on 17 equivalents with 3 assists.
He has looked especially effective at attacking defenders when he can receive the ball and go at a still rotating defense. I'm still not totally sold on Jackson and Ish getting heavy minutes together (especially given potential defensive issues it will cause) but I am really liking the dynamic that they have had together on the floor. Jackson has thrived playing off the ball more and looks like an ideal second option behind Blake Griffin.
In particular, there were two seperate times where Jackson was being covered by Robert Covington, who was 1st team all-defense last year, and Jackson totally dusted him. Once again, Covington isn't a scrub, he isn't even just a good defender, he's a legitimately great one, and Jackson bamboozled him twice. That's a good sign for Jackson's health.
41 minutes, 17 points, 14 shot equivalents, 3 assists, and nearly hit a game winner that just popped out. Bullock has struggled with his shot in the opening games of the season but that shouldn't be a big worry long-term. He looks comfortable in the two-man game with Blake Griffin already and is firing away with confidence.
The issue tonight for Bullock was his defense. He was largely tasked with following JJ Reddick around and it went very poorly. Bullock (and most other Pistons defenders) have seriously struggled to deal with good screens this season and it resulted in JJ Reddick going for 30 points.
In the end it was a bit of a rough go of things for Bullock, he's still trying to find his shot from deep and he did very poorly on defense in this game.
Yeah not great. 19 minutes, no points (0-5) and 3 assists. Without Simmons there just wasn't the sort of wing player for Stanley to sick himself on defensively and he provided nothing on offense. Had Simmons played we would've all been much more thankful for Stanley in this game, and as the Pistons start to run into more elite wing players that will be true, but it has been a rough opening pair of games to the season for Johnson.
Sorry Dad I know you don't like it when I cuss but I had no choice.
Blake Griffin's demise has been greatly exaggerated. Many this offseason would've had you believe that Griffin's full name was “The rapidly declining Blake Griffin” this was of course never true in the first place, health and not ability is the question with Griffin, and hopefully this performance on national TV can set the record straight for the wider NBA fandom. In this game, 44 minutes, 50(!!!!) points on 40 shot equivalents (and he only went 5-11 from the line by missing his first 6), 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1(!!!!!!!!!!) turnover. The Sixers simply had no answer for Griffin. He ground some defenders into pulp, he used poor Dario Saric as a turn style, and dunked all over Joel Embiid. In the first three games, this is Blake Griffin's world and we are all living in it. Unreal start to the season, now lets just hope he can stay healthy.
Certainly a struggle for Drummond. 14 and 16 with a pair of assists is a nice line but he took 22 shot equivalents to get those 14 points. It should be stated that the second technical that got him ejected was an utter travesty as much as almost any call I've seen live.
One thing worth remembering in all of this, and something I think Andre needs to do a better job of remembering to be honest, is that Drummond is one of maybe a handful of guys in the entire NBA who you put on an island against Embiid. Embiid finished with a good line, but many of those points came in moments where Drummond wasn't on him. He hit a couple of tough shots and did get Drummond a few times, but Drummond plays Embiid as tough on defense as anyone alive. So as much as his stat-line didn't end up great, remember that the reason Embiid likes to needle at Drummond is that he knows how good Drummond is.
The problem of course is that Drummond ends up trying too hard to get back at Embiid. Instead of just playing his game, Drummond tried to force things on offense far too much which resulted in some flailing, hopeless drives with no chance of success. I'm all for Drummond being aggressive and putting the ball on the floor, but he can't force what isn't there, he just isn't that caliber of scorer. In the future he has to channel his inner Aron Baynes against Embiid. Accept that he's going to get you and put up big numbers, but keep right on plugging away because you are defending him well and remember that he is a wimp who can't do it all game. Be patient and wait till the end and he will wear down to the point that he's afraid to attack Zaza Pachulia. Play your game, play great defense, let Embiid get the Dawkins highlights, and take your victory. So not a good game by Drummond, but the poorness of his play is overstated. There's maybe a handful of dudes in the NBA who can go one on one with Embiid and not die.
Continuing as a essential 6th starter, Ish Smith played a ton of minutes alongside Reggie Jackson again. 33 minutes, 21 points on 12 shots with 3 assists. Once again, I'm still a bit skeptical of the Jackson/Smith combo long-term, but the early results are good. I like that Ish has more energy since he doesn't have the offense going through him all the time, I like when Ish gets to destroy unsuspecting fools off the dribble, and Ish hitting threes is huge.
I'm not sure how this will hold up with Ish, he's currently over 50% from deep, but I do like the dynamic going on. Most importantly, Casey seems to have decided that Ish is his 5th best player (which is not an unfair assessment) and so he's simply decided he will play him regardless of position and fit.
Played 25 minutes, only scored 4 points on 3 shots. Not much doing. He also struggled to stay with JJ Reddick at times.
His first stint was terrible, his last stint was excellent. The first time Zaza came onto the floor he quickly found himself guarding Joel Embiid. This went about as expected as Zaza used 4 quick fouls and looked utterly incapable of guarding Embiid. But then, after Drummond was booted from the game on one of the worst technical foul-calls I've seen this side of clapping Tim Duncan, Zaza was guarding Joel Embiid for overtime with 4 fouls. Then on the opening tip of overtime Zaza got his 5th. Embiid proceeded to be too cowardly to attack that Georgian and when he finally did, Zaza stole the ball from the huge baby. Zaza must own a lot of real estate in Embiid's head.
Played 11 minutes after a DNP CD last game. 2 points on 3 shots, with his lone bucket being a really nice coast to coast play. Still not much there for Luke.
Blake Griffin is incredible, RJax and Ish are really working out together, and even Drummond is playing well even if some of the numbers don't say so. It's been ugly at times, but the first three games are going alright for Detroit.