2016-17 NBA Season Week 1...ish Recap: Pistons
A little over a week has passed in what has been an incredible NBA season thus far, and the Pistons are looking promising as ever. They currently sport a 4-2 record, with their two losses coming on the road.
Game 1 – Pistons 91 @ Raptors 109
Pistons opened the season on the road against the Raptors, looking to avenge their loss to the Raptors in the final game of the preseason a week prior. Drummond was limited for most of the game due to foul trouble, and the duo of Derozan & JVal capitalized on the Pistons lack of paint protection by combining for 72 points. The Raptors outscored the Pistons in the paint, 54 to 40; this helped propel them to a +6 FG percentage differential.
Game 2 – Magic 82 @ Pistons 108
Pistons came out strong in their home opener and never looked back, spurred onward by a crowd filled with energy for this Friday Night at the Palace. Andre Drummond chipped in 20 rebounds, leading the Pistons to a 53-44 edge on the boards. However, it was a well-rounded team effort that won them this game, as the Pistons had 6 players in double figures, including two off the bench. The Pistons had fun out there; they walked it in to the paint on more than half of their makes, destroying the Magic 60 to 36 in terms of points in the paint. Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris led the pistons in scoring, combining for 35 points, and just played a very efficient game on both sides of the ball.
Game 3 – Bucks 83 @ Pistons 98
After having a dreadful offensive showing against the Magic, Drummond rebounded with his first 20/20 game of the season, and it was no wonder the Pistons blew the Bucks out at home. This team generally goes as Drummond goes, and this game was no different. The Pistons played a great game defensively, limiting the Bucks to under 40% shooting from the floor, and made it count by beating them on the boards 66 to 44.
Game 4 – Knicks 89 @ Pistons 102
Detroit finally caught fire from three, going 8/13 en route to a total beat down of my Knicks. This was a game I really didn’t enjoy, mostly because the Knicks turned in an abysmal performance and made me regret leaving the house to come watch them play. As a Knicks fan, the pain just wouldn’t stop; whether it was Noah’s airball, which I’m still trying to figure out what made him take that shot, or Kristaps’ going ghost all game, or Rose’s inability to decide what to do with the ball before leaving his feet, it was just oh so very hard to watch. At least my section was filled with plenty of other Knicks fans to share my agony, and have an impromptu therapy session at the half.
Watching this game objectively as a basketball fan, however, the Pistons played a solid game in spite of Andre’s poor offensive showing and constant pouting for most of the game. Mook turned in an amazing effort defensively, matched up on Carmelo, and still managed to have an impressive showing offensively pouring in 22 points on 9/14 shooting. MVP of the game goes to Tobias Harris for his 25/10, and he lead the Pistons out of the gate, his energy set the tone early and secured this victory for his team.
Game 5 – Pistons 101 @ Nets 109
The Pistons traveled to Brooklyn to play the Nets on the second night of a back to back, and it showed in their effort across the board. They let the Nets torch them for 54% shooting from the field, along with 50 points in the paint. As I said earlier, this Pistons team tends to come and go and Drummond does, and the fact that Stan Van Gundy felt the need to pull him out in the 3rd quarter and bench him for the rest of the game, it is no surprise that they lost. The Pistons failed to capitalize on Lin’s injury, or the Nets inability to take care of the basketball, and took a loss in a game where nobody outside of Tobias and Mook showed up. Overall it was a much worse game for the Pistons than the score showed, and it was a good thing they had a couple days off to work on things before their next game.
Game 6 – Nuggets 86 @ Pistons 103
Sometimes, a benching can go a long way for young players, and it was apparent as ever with Andre Drummond; he bounced back with a 19-point, 20-rebound effort, including 7/11 from the free throw line. Drummond scored 5 of the Pistons’ first 8 points in the first 65 seconds of the game, including getting a steal that would be rewarded with an alley-oop from Ish Smith, propelling them to an 8-0 lead. The Pistons never looked back from there, and lead the entire game. The Pistons held the Nuggets to an absolutely putrid 33% FG rate, on a night where they were locked in on all cylinders defensively as well as offensively, with 6 players scoring in double figures.
Keys to their success thus far:
1) The offensive ingenuity of Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris
2) The superb PG play of Ish Smith, as well as positive contributions from Beno Udrih off the bench
3) Positive leadership from Andre Drummond, as this team has gone whichever direction he takes them
The Week Ahead:
Looking at the week ahead, the Pistons look to overcome their early season road woes, with a 4-game road trip on the schedule. Monday they will take on the Clippers, Wednesday the Suns, Friday night the Spurs, and cap it off with a rematch against the Nuggets on Saturday. In order to win these games, they’re going to have to win the battles in the paint against the Clippers & Spurs formidable big men. They’ll need to take care of the ball against the Suns and limit them on the glass, in order to limit their ability to get out in transition, and increase their chances of locking them down defensively. Beating the Nuggets will come down to effort, with it being the second night of a back to back, and mental approach, as they have to be careful to not be lulled into a false sense of confidence due to beating the Nuggets in Detroit the week before.
I think I would be ecstatic if they go 3-1 this week, but wouldn’t be surprised by the Pistons going 2-2. I fully expect them to beat the Suns with relative ease, and they should beat the Nuggets again as long as the fatigue of this road trip and the thin Denver air doesn’t slow them down. I truthfully don’t see any way in which they beat both the Spurs and Clippers, but I could definitely see them splitting this one; probably losing to the Clippers on Monday and beating the Spurs on Friday night because things just never play out the way they’re supposed to.