How many heartbreaking losses can a team take before it completely melts down? Three, it seems. The Pistons completely collapsed on Tuesday night falling to 0-4 for the first time since 1999-2000 (a year they finished as the No. 7 seed in the playoffs).
The Pistons came out flat and never looked like they were really all that into the game. When you're playing in front of your own fans, against the defending Eastern Conference champs, that's a huge problem in more ways than one.
A few Pistons turned in adequate box score numbers (CV: 17 points on 7-13 shooting, seven rebounds; Austin Daye: 14 points on 7-14 shooting with five rebounds), but as a unit the team turned it over more than they dished it out (17 turnovers to 13 assists) and allowed the Celtics to have easy, wide open looks, which led to the C's shooting 56eFG% (19-24 at the rim) and dropping 109 points.
Rajon Rondo outplayed Rodney Stuckey at the point, forcing Stuck to shoot 6-15 and turn it over three times opposite only three assists. Meanwhile, Rondo racked up 17 assists (with ZERO turnovers) and four steals, setting the All-Time first-four-games assist record (67).
"We have to collectively somewhere, somehow find another voice besides my own that is going to lead us and also have that passion."
The problem with that quote, aside from its ability to be taken completely out of context as I did, is that it sounds as if Kuester is taking zero blame for how things are going. That is unacceptable from a head coach.
Then, that message is undoubtedly going to be relayed to the players for their response. A classic "he said, she said," that's only going to get a rise out one of the more frustrated players. That just happened to be Tayshaun Prince tonight, who got real:
"That (leadership) isn't the only thing that's lacking. He can put it towards us and we can put it towards him. We've got to be more vocal, he's got to do some things better too. We're 0-4 but it ain't just the team, it's everybody
And that, my friends, is how drama is made. Rodney Stuckey answered the question the best, taking responsibility, and Ben Wallace gave the voting day PC response of "I'm not going to touch that," but Prince took the bait and made things uglier.
I already touched on this in the comments of a previous post, but as a coach you can't throw your veteran leaders under the bus like that. From everything we've read during the offseason and first few games, the vets have, in fact, been very good leaders on and off the court. The team's already down on themselves for blowing three games and then putting in a lackluster performance, the last thing they need is hearing their coach's unhappiness get the best of him to the media. Save that for closed door meetings.
As for Prince, he also needs to know when to leave a situation alone. Nothing he said was false, but he should take notes from what the younger Stuckey said -- take responsibility for your poor game, cram it and play. It didn't start after the game, though. During the game, Prince got into it with fans behind the bench because they were supposedly heckling him or his teammates. According to Dennis Fithian of WXYT, who was sitting in the area, the heckling was mild and didn't deserve a reaction from Prince.
So, after all this, what are the Pistons left with? An inevitable media effect and a potentially very awkward plane ride to Atlanta, which could lead to the ultimate season melt down. The best way to make it all go away? Go pick up a win in less than 24 hours.