Going into tonight's matchup, with the Detroit Pistons on a nine game losing streak and the Celtics on a five game skid, it seemed possible that two struggling teams might find an offensive rhythm against one another.
Well that's not exactly what happened out of the gate.
The game began in worrying form for Pistons fans, with the team force feeding Drummond in the post leading to an ugly miss, followed by Jeff Green nailing a three-pointer in Josh Smith's face, followed by Smith quickly clanking an attempted revenge long-two on the other end. This is not what's good. Boston continued with a stretch of good ball movement, and Detroit answered with a number of head scratchers, including some particularly mysterious attempts by KCP outside the flow of what counts for the Pistons offense.
Then Moose subbed in for Smith. And not to give him too much credit, but it really felt like night and day. Monroe provided an offense focus, drew a couple of fouls, and seemed to settle the Pistons down, leading the team to a two point lead.
The second quarter continued promisingly, with Moose continuing to feast on post ups. But SVG returned to the starting line-up and the results were predictable. Detroit managed to pull close again on triples by Singler and KCP near the end of the half, after some good ball movement. For serious.
The third quarter was a janky up and down affair, featuring lots of hustling and lots of boneheaded plays in equal measure. Best exemplified by KCP expertly reading and reacting on defense, leading to a truly great steal, which then led to him taking a truly dumb shot on the other end, all within about a minute of game action. Third quarter score; 19-15, Celtics. The only moment that distinguished this quarter of basketball from hundreds of pick-up games across the country, and Garrett's Canadian rec league, was a monster Drummond dunk off a great Smith pass.
The fourth quarter began as a full on tire fire. The Celtics got into a flow in the halfcourt, with Rondo picking the Pistons apart, delivering pin point passes, many of them to Kelly Olynyk who was finishing everything around the rim.
Then Josh Smith picked up his 6th foul and things got better for the Pistons. Is that unfair? A little, sure. Lots of Pistons struggled shooting the ball. But with Smith out, Moose in, the Pistons offense suddenly came roaring to life. A DLN! comeback ensued, and it looked like it was all going to come up a little short until Caron Butler nailed a long 3 to tie the game, followed by Andre with a game saving block at the end of regulation.
Overtime was an uphill battle. Boston came out aggressive and jumped all over the Pistons, running out to a quick eight point lead. The Pistons fought back, again leaning heavily on Moose powered post-ups, but the lead was too much. A mystifyingly bad idea KCP jumper, bookended by Sullinger draining a couple of long range shots seemed likely to seal the Detroit's doom. But to their credit, the Pistons continued to claw and fight, and after KCP nailed a good idea three it looked like they might have a second comeback in them. Alas it was not to be, Boston took care of the ball, made their free throws and squeaked out the win.
No doubt about this one. With Greg Monroe on the court the Pistons transformed from a group of players who looked like they'd never played together before on offense, to an actual NBA outfit. 29 points (on 9-17 shooting) and 7 rebounds in 32 minutes. Moose was outfoxing each and every Celtic that tried to guard him in the post, gave the otherwise aimless Pistons offense a defined and easy to find focal point., and seemed energetic and engaged throughout.
George Blahaha Moment(s) of the Game
Hard to pick just one. I'll award it to the Pistons two headed monster at PG, with Brandon Jennings and D.J. Augustine combining to shoot 0-17, scoring one point apiece. Jennings did have 12 assists, but that level of terrible shooting would be difficult for any team to overcome.
Reasons for Concern
The Pistons continue to be absolutely terrible from behind the arc (a hair below 30% on the night). There's not really a fix for it at this point, and I know this is obviously not a novel point being made here. But seriously, with Monroe and Drummond dominating in the paint, the difference between an overtime loss and a blowout win is going to come down to shooters making mostly open shots. KCP has to be smarter about his shot selection. Singler can't get down on himself, it felt like he allowed a couple of early misses to affect his play the rest of the game. Jennings and Augustine can't miss all their shots. Put aside everything else, the concerns about defense, hustle, whatever. If SVG can figure out a way through rotations, schemes, anything, to get the Pistons to make threes at just a league average rate, the team would transform from a consistent loser to a really tough out on any given night.
Reasons for Optimism
It happened for all the wrong reasons, but will SVG be smart enough to take the gift that a trio of overly zealous refs gave him? Out of necessity, with Josh Smith fouling out midway through the 4th quarter, Pistons fans saw an extended run of minutes with Monroe and Drummond in a lineup with actual perimeter oriented perimeter players. The results were very, very encouraging. More of this, please. Please.
Now your thoughts.
GameThread Roll Call
|19||The truth Rodney White||15|
|30||the red pill||5|